Career Testing
Career Testing
Career Testing
CHOOSING A CAREER / DEC. 17, 2014
version 4, draft 4

How to Become a Police Lieutenant in the US

To function efficiently, many local and national police departments have smaller divisions within their structure. Police lieutenants are the officers in charge of these divisions. As such, lieutenants are senior police officers with a range of leadership and law enforcement duties. If you believe it is possible to create a crime-free society and would like to work in a police force, you stand a good chance of rising to this position.

What Do Police Lieutenants Do?

The specific duties of police lieutenants varies depending on the primary responsibility of a division. For example, the scope of work of a lieutenant in charge of a counter terrorism division is wider than that of a lieutenant heading a street crimes unit. Regardless of this, they perform the following common duties:

  • Taking and executing orders from a police captain
  • Creating the goals and objectives of the division
  • Assigning work activities to police officers posted to the division
  • Organizing training programs for these officers
  • Taking part in the development of the division’s annual budget
  • Responding to public inquiries and incidents reported to the division
  • Finding solutions to specific law enforcement issues

Work Environment

The rank of police lieutenant comes with some privileges. Although many police officers spend time outdoors responding to crimes, lieutenants spend more time in an office environment performing administrative tasks. In some cases, however, lieutenants may need to conduct patrols in police vehicles. This means the job involves working past the normal 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday schedule. Be prepared to work during the night, weekends and holidays.

Like many law enforcement jobs, lieutenants can be exposed to physical harm: It is never an easy job dealing with criminals!

Salary

How much do police lieutenants make in a year? Find out below:

Occupation

Average Annual Wage

Police Lieutenant

$52,000

Source: Indeed

Education and Training

To become a police lieutenant, you need to first become a police officer and later work your way up through ranks such as detective and sergeant.

Although the requirements for becoming a police officer vary by state, you generally need to:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Be an American citizen
  • Have a high school diploma
  • Have a clean criminal and drug background
  • Pass a medical test
  • Complete a police training program

After becoming a police officer, focus on gaining law enforcement experience. Many employers usually hire lieutenants with at least two years’ experience.

Since a post-secondary credential is also a key requirement, it is a good idea to obtain at least an associate degree in any of these fields:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Criminology
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology
  • Law enforcement

With these qualifications, you are an ideal candidate for the job.

Important Qualities

What skills and abilities do you need to be an effective police lieutenant? You need:

  • Strong leadership skills
  • Strong skills in public relations
  • Planning, organizing and coordination skills
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Skills in personnel management
  • Skills in budget administration
  • Physical stamina
  • Analytical skills to assess law enforcement issues
  • A knowledge of occupational hazards and safety practices
  • The ability to delegate authority

Career Development

After becoming a police lieutenant, you can still work your way up by earning more experience and importantly, proving your competence. If you are in charge of the street crimes unit, lowering the crime rate within a short period is a solid statement of your competence.

Besides pursuing a bachelor’s degree in any of the fields listed above, you can also join a local police association or the National Association of Police Organizations to show your dedication to the law enforcement field.

Job Opportunities

The employers of police lieutenants include:

  • Town, city and county police departments
  • State policy departments
  • Federal law enforcement agencies, such as the U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection

With vast law enforcement knowledge and experience, you can progress to become a police captain. Other senior positions you could chase include police commander and chief of police.

Finally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a slower-than-average (8 percent) job growth for all protective service occupations from 2012 through 2022. The trick to landing this position is gaining vast policing experience and earning an advanced degree. In addition, your desire to help America become a crime-free society can keep you determined.

 

Image: iStock

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