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Career Advice

Career Opportunities in the Public Safety Sector

On the whole, modern life is safe, secure and peaceful enough which is thanks in part to the many people who work in the public safety sector around the globe. These people include those who have chosen a career in law, public safety and security. Common careers range from lawyers, judges, and magistrates to police officers, ambulance dispatchers, and firefighters. If you enjoy helping people and think that working in a field where safety is a top priority, working in public safety could be one of your options. For some of the careers and depending on where in the World you live, you’ll only need a high school diploma to get your foot on the first rung of the ladder. Whereas other roles, particularly those in management, require more extensive education.

If you want to learn more about some of the most common public safety careers available across the globe, keep reading.

  • Correctional Officers

A correctional officer is responsible for overseeing people who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. This can be a very stressful and often dangerous career. It’s also a career that has one of the highest rates of injury and illnesses of all occupations. Work tends to be on a shift basis and can include days and nights, weekends and holidays. To become a correctional officer, you need to attend a training academy, together with on-the-job training. Actual qualifications vary depending on where you’ll be working.

  • EMTs and Paramedics

Paramedics and EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) care for people who are sick or injured in emergency medical settings. They respond to emergency calls, perform medical services and transport patients to medical facilities. This is a vital role because people’s lives often depend on the quick reactions and care provided by these workers. It can be a very stressful and physically strenuous job that can sometimes involve life-or-death situations. Qualifications generally include post-secondary education. EMTs and paramedics also have to be licensed, the exact requirements of which depend on location.

  • Firefighters, Fire Inspectors, and Investigators

It’s a firefighters job to respond to fires and other emergencies. They tend to be the first responders at the scene of an accident. To qualify to be a firefighter you usually need a high school diploma. A post-secondary degree in fire science or another related discipline would also be advantageous. There are written and physical tests that have to be passed, together with a series of interviews. A firefighters career can be advanced by holding an EMT certification and receiving further training.

Fire inspectors work in the office and the field, visiting and inspecting buildings and other structures to check for fire hazards and ensure fire regulations are being followed. Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists assess outdoor fire hazards in public and residential areas. A fire investigator is called in when the origin and cause of a fire need to be determined. They work to collect evidence by searching the surrounding scene. You will be required to attend training academies, receive on-the-job training and have a high school diploma. It’s also very typical for inspectors and investigators to have previously worked as a firefighter.

The job outlook for fire inspectors is very good with opportunities expected to rise by as much as 10% in the next few years. However, you should be aware that competition will be fierce for the limited number of positions that are available.

  • Police Officers, Detectives, and Criminal Investigators

If you’d like to work in a field that protects lives and property, being a police officer could be your calling. If you’d like to help solve crimes, then being a detective or criminal investigator could be the role you’re looking for. This type of work can be stressful, dangerous and physically demanding with high rates of injuries and illness. You may be called on work all hours, with shift work being a common requirement of the job. The education requirements vary, depending on the type of job you’ll be doing but typically range from a high school diploma to a college degree. You may also have to graduate from a training academy and complete on-the-job training. There are plenty of opportunities for advancement and furthering your education, particularly in the field of public safety. A Safety Master Degree online from Wilfrid Laurier University is one option.

Detective work is also available in the private sector where you might be involved in finding facts and analyzing information relating to legal, financial, and personal matters. A private detective or investigator will usually have a college education, and a license may also be required depending on where you’ll be working.

  • Air Traffic Controller

This role is involved in coordinating air traffic and making sure that planes stay at safe distances from each other. There are certified schools you’ll need to attend, pass pre-employment tests and complete a training course. It is possible to enter this field if you’ve gained air traffic control experience when in the military. You’ll usually be working in an airport control tower, approach control facilities or a route center. It’s a job that requires high levels of concentration, which can make it very stressful. Rotating shifts are common with nighttime and weekend work will be a normal part of your working routine. Job prospects are good, and the number of air traffic controllers looks set to rise over the coming years.

  • Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists

If you choose this type of career, you’ll be helping people manage or overcome mental and emotional disorders and family and relationship problems. You need to be a good listener and be able to ask the right questions and help your clients understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives. You could find yourself working in a range of different settings such as mental health centers, substance abuse treatment centers, hospitals, and colleges. It’s also possible to work in private practice and mental health programs provided by employers. It’s typical for a mental health counselor and marriage and family therapist to have a master’s degree, together with a license to practice. The master’s degree should be in psychology, social work, counseling, marriage and family therapy or a related mental health field. License requirements usually include a master’s degree and a certain number of hours of post-degree supervised clinical experience. There is often a state-recognized exam to pass and continued professional development.

  • Social or Community Service Manager

In this type of role, you’re responsible for coordinating and supervising social service programs and community organizations. You could find yourself working with members of the community to identify, design and oversee programs that meet the needs of the community or target audience. Gathering information, supervising staff, analyzing data, suggesting and implementing improvements can also be part of your job description. This type of work could take you into a variety of social and human service organizations that could focus on a particular demographic such as homeless people, children, vulnerable adults or veterans. They could also focus on helping people with mental health needs, long-term unemployment or other life challenges. Education requirements include at least a bachelor’s degree, together with some work experience. It’s also possible that a master’s degree may be a requirement. The degree would have to be in a related field such as social work, urban studies, or public administration. Additional studies in statistics, program management, and policy analysis would be helpful.

  • Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers

This role includes patrolling and inspecting property against fire, theft, vandalism, terrorism, and illegal activity. You could find yourself working in a wide variety of places including office buildings, retail stores, and public buildings. Gaming surveillance officers usually work in casino observation rooms and watch what’s going on in the casino with the help of audio and video equipment. It’s the kind of job that could see you working around the clock as many buildings and casinos are open 24/7. To become a security guard, you’ll generally need a high school diploma. Further experience is needed with security and video surveillance if you want to be a gaming surveillance officer. Security guards also need to be registered, especially if they’re required to carry a firearm. To be effective at your job, you need to remain alert and look out for anything unusual. In an emergency, you may be required to call for assistance from either the police, fire, or ambulance service. Specific responsibilities differ from employer to employer, but they can include protecting people, records, merchandise, money, and equipment. It could involve protecting paintings and exhibits, checking credentials of people and vehicles entering and leaving premises, controlling crowds, supervising parking and seating. Security guards are also employed at the entrance to bars and nightclubs to keep underage people from entering.

This is a very small selection of the career opportunities available globally if you’re interested in working in the field of public safety. The work can often be hard and very stressful but is ultimately rewarding as you’ll be helping to make the world a safer place for people to live in.




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