Many military veterans look for a post-military career where they can continue to serve their country and community. One profession that does just that, and in many ways is like the military is the field of law enforcement.

Law enforcement is a good career field for veterans for several reasons. But in particular they are well-suited for this line of work because they are:

  • Team players – Beginning in basic training, recruits are taught how working together as a team is critical to the success of every mission. In many law enforcement situations, knowing how to follow orders (or how to give them) can mean the difference between life and death – just like it can when serving in a combat zone.
  • Good communicators – Much like being a team player, knowing how to effectively communicate, both verbally and written, in this field is critical to mission success and includes receiving orders, giving them or writing up incident reports.
  • More mature – Most military veterans have served for at least six years or more, so they have a higher level of maturity based on their experiences and training when pitted against new graduates fresh out of college and looking for their first real job.
  • Better able to manage stress – The majority of new veterans have served on one or more deployments in a combat zone, so they have the experience and training to better manage stress and better able to keep a cool head in stressful situations.
  • Able to get a security clearance – Many veterans served in positions requiring a security clearance. Depending on when the last reinvestigation was done, the clearance could be good for up to two years after getting out.

With that said, the five items will only take them so far when vying for a law enforcement position. With more agencies, especially at the federal level like the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, CIA and Secret Service, requiring a higher level of law enforcement education, using the GI Bill to get a criminal justice or related field degree seems like a prudent action to take for career purposes. And even if it is not required for the current open positions, it can position one higher on the hiring short list than others not having that same level of applicable education.

Post 9/11 GI Bill

Just using the New GI Bill to complete a two-year associate degree in criminal justice can put one light years ahead of other applicants. Not only does it pay tuition and applicable fees in full if attending a public university or community college, it also pays up to $1,000 per year in books and a housing allowance that averages across the nation at $1,300 per month.

As mentioned, federal, and some state and private security agencies, require their law enforcement personnel to have four-year bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. Because the Post 9/11 GI Bill allows for up to 36 months of education benefits – enough for four 9-month academic years – it is enough to not only secure an associate degree, but also a four-year bachelor degree if managed correctly.

One additional piece of training valuable in today’s world of policing is knowing how to speak a second language. While in college, be sure a second language, like Spanish or an equivalent, is included as part of your curriculum.

Having the aforementioned items, post-secondary education and military training and experience on a resume will attract the attention of hiring officials and should move one easily up to the next step – interviewing. In today’s job market, it is necessary to position oneself above the rest of the pack and using these tips will do just that.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.