Public safety is a broad discipline, so it is not uncommon for students to wonder where they will end up after earning an advanced degree in public safety.
Before delving into the possible career paths for a public safety graduate, it is useful to understand what a master’s degree in this field entails.
An advanced degree in public safety will teach students skills that prepare them for administrative and leadership roles in security and care. You will learn critical leadership, effective communication and strategic leadership skills, allowing you to become an efficient planner and implementer of emergency responses and safety plans.
Many motivated professionals pursuing a master’s degree in public safety already have significant work experience in the industry. However, some students are taking the program to build and cultivate the knowledge from their undergraduate degrees. Either way, they can improve their management and leadership chances while also narrowing their focus areas.
Unlike other industries, public safety empowers students to establish essential skills and apply this expertise in responding to critical threats and preventing injury or death.
The reality is that public safety is a results-driven industry, and it needs professionals with the skills to make a real difference in their respective job sectors.
Here is a look at some of the career paths you can pursue with a degree in public safety.
Emergency management director
An emergency management director creates effective emergency response procedures and plans to respond to emergencies such as auto accident cases in Florida. They often work together with non-profit groups and government organizations to lead the response during and after emergencies.
Some other tasks emergency management directors might be responsible for include:
- Evaluate risks and create disaster plans to reduce property threats.
- Discuss emergency response strategies with representatives of public and private businesses.
- Plan training sessions and drills for emergency staff and responders.
- Assist in responding to disasters and coordinate the pooling of equipment and resources across communities.
- Prepare and evaluate damage estimates after catastrophes or disasters.
- Examine the emergency plans of hospitals and other facilities to ensure they are adequate.
- Seek federal financing opportunities to help manage, respond to, and recover in emergencies.
- Examine multiple plans during local emergencies and make any required revisions.
- Maintain the facilities used for emergency operations
Now that we’ve established the functions of this role, you might wonder whether a career as an emergency management director is financially rewarding or sustainable. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, an emergency management director earns an average of $76,730 annually, and their income can range from $46,670 to $133,580. It also has a strong job outlook, with employment expected to grow 3 percent from 2023 to 2031.
Anticipating emergencies and reducing risks will support demand and job possibilities in this field. Moreover, these employees must assist companies and organizations in continuing to offer services during and after calamities.
Community service officer
A community service officer helps law enforcement agencies. They support police activities, especially in cases where a police officer is not needed. This can range from directing traffic to issuing municipal parking penalties. Their responsibilities include crime scene investigation, security at special events and schools, community outreach and crime prevention.
At a police station, they are also in charge of various administrative duties, such as filing reports for crimes like burglary, missing persons, and property vandalism; dispatching calls as necessary; and coordinating with other public safety agencies, such as animal control services.
A community service officer may also expected to perform the following duties on the job:
- Oversee, coordinate, and monitor the performance of subordinates.
- Escort arrested individuals to and from designated cell sites and interview rooms.
- Receive, prioritize and respond to multiple requests for digital reports or calls for service.
- Facilitate an interviewer’s access to booking records, including booking door cards, arrest records, booking sheets, court dockets, and the jail management system.
- Keep track of and document the in-and-out transit activities of each arrested person who is interrogated.
- Provide interviewers with security when they speak to individuals who have been arrested.
- Provide knowledge of local law enforcement policies, practices, and statutes in response to interviewers’ questions.
- Fulfill requests for reports and summaries on assigned cases.
Like emergency management directors, working as a community service officer can be financially rewarding. According to the popular job search platform Indeed, a community service officer earns an average annual salary of $31,676.
Law enforcement officer
Protecting lives and property is a law enforcement officer’s top priority. Their job focuses on this single duty.
There are many different categories of law enforcement personnel and agencies. Various tasks are carried out depending on the organization and type of officer. Law enforcement officers carry out their responsibilities, on or off duty, in practically all circumstances.
As mentioned, the responsibilities of law enforcement officers vary. Outlined below is an overview of some of the most common types of law enforcement officers.
- General law enforcement officers: These officers patrol and respond to requests for assistance. They might control traffic at a fire scene, look into a break-in or administer first aid. They also establish connections with neighborhood residents and assist them in battling crime.
- Detectives: Detectives are in charge of acquiring information and assembling evidence to investigate criminal situations. Most detectives have a particular area of expertise, such as homicide or drugs. Cases are assigned to detectives, and they continue exploring motives until a conviction is made or a case is dismissed.
- US marshals and deputy marshals: The US Marshals Service is the country’s oldest law enforcement organization. They carry out various tasks, such as alien and prisoner transit, prisoner services, witness security, fugitive investigations, judicial security, forfeiture of assets, serving court papers, and other unique operations and initiatives.
- Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents: As the primary federal agency responsible for drug law enforcement, DEA officers uphold domestic drug laws and coordinate and conduct US drug investigations abroad. Some DEA officers use covert methods to penetrate illicit drug networks.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents: These agents are criminal investigators for the federal government and look into potential violations of numerous statutes. They frequently carry out delicate national security inquiries.
- State police officers: Also known as state troopers and highway patrol officers, they have authority over the entire state. Safety in motor vehicles is their principal duty. They help at accident scenes and enforce traffic laws and regulations. They also look into offenses involving motor vehicles and other traffic incidents.
- Sheriffs and deputy sheriffs: Sheriffs are often elected to their positions. Their responsibilities are comparable to those of county or local police chiefs. Deputy sheriffs are responsible for patrolling, responding to calls, investigating criminal activities and other administrative duties.
The salary of a law enforcement officer varies depending on the field in which they work, but the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that police officers and detectives can earn an average of $66,020 annually.
Occupational health and safety specialist
Occupational health and safety specialists recognize, prevent and manage health and safety risks at work, including chemical and biological threats, radiation exposure, and excessive noise.
To keep employees safe while working, they develop creative safety programs. Occupational health and safety experts are necessary for businesses with potentially hazardous working circumstances.
Professionals in this sector tackle various issues, including:
- Preventing health problems caused by chemical and biological contaminants.
- Checking the safety of industrial processes and equipment and routinely inspecting job locations for safety.
- Assessing how effectively businesses follow the laws, rules, and guidelines intended to safeguard workers.
Where do occupational health and safety specialists work? Individuals with a strong background and a Master’s degree in public safety can work in various fields, such as manufacturing, government, construction and even healthcare.
Like the other professions in this list, an occupational health and safety specialist can also make a good living. Data shows that the base salary of an occupational health and safety specialist ranges from $73,777 to $83,664, with an average base compensation of $79,274.
How to get started in public safety
You might be asking how to get started now that you have a clear idea of the career prospects for graduates in public safety, especially if you already work full-time, have a family to care for and cannot take time off work. In addition, the costs of returning to school to earn a master’s degree in public safety can be expensive. This is particularly true if you are still trying to pay off outstanding student debts.
A Master of Public Safety online program from an academic institution such as Wilfrid Laurier University can eliminate many of these concerns. You can save a sizable sum of money by taking classes online. The tuition for an online program is lower at many colleges than the price for the same program offered on campus.
Even if this is not the case, earning a Master’s in public safety online can help you avoid financial hardship in other ways. For example, you won’t have to pay for a housing or meal plan or spend money on fuel to get back and forth to school. Most of your educational resources are also available in digital form, so you won’t need to buy books.
Additionally, it enables flexible learning. You can fit your education around your life rather than the other way around when you enroll in an online public safety course. Classes in a conventional on-campus public safety curriculum are held at set times, but when you take it online, you can attend classes whenever it is most convenient.
For example, if you are unable to go to class on Thursday because you are overworked, you could take the class on the weekend instead. Having the freedom to choose when you study increases the likelihood of retaining and using the information in practical situations.
The admission requirements will vary depending on the university you choose. These can include official transcripts of records from all academic institutions you’ve attended, your resume and letters of recommendation.
What does earning a master’s degree in public safety entail? Although course curricula vary depending on the academic institution, they often incorporate public safety concepts to assist you in developing a thorough understanding of technologies, social factors and current challenges that impact public safety practice.
You may take courses on topics such as:
- Issues in contemporary public safety: You will study problems with international public safety in this course, along with the internal and external pressures influencing how things are done. Additionally, you’ll be assessing current and upcoming problems that public safety personnel may face.
- Intelligence and analytics in public safety: This course will teach you how to examine and evaluate the intelligence function in a public safety environment. You will also learn the intelligence theory and procedures in the required public safety domains, such as emergency management, crime prevention, border security and national security.
- Leadership and ethics in public safety: The main theories will be covered in this course, along with their application. You will tackle subjects related to organizational decision-making, change management, ethics and leadership, succession planning, and managing productive and diverse teams.
- Research methods and statistical analysis in public safety: This course will teach advanced quantitative and qualitative public safety methodologies. You will study subjects such as data interpretation, qualitative analytical software, content analysis, research design, variable measurement and ethics.
Start a meaningful career in public safety
Are you eager to find out more about a public safety career? Do you possess the skills needed to conduct safety investigations, examine workplace dangers and develop solutions to health and safety issues? If so, a public safety degree could help you launch a rewarding career in this field.