Getting Prepared for a Career in Law Enforcement

With the high level of responsibility and trust given to those in law enforcement, you can expect the hiring standards to be higher than many other careers. While each department has slightly different requirements depending on the state or town, there are a few universal practices. If you’re considering a career in law enforcement, there are a few things you can ask yourself to see if you’re prepared to step into a law enforcement role.


  1. Do you meet the minimum qualifications?

It’s important to consider whether or not you meet the minimum requirements of the role before anything else. If you don’t, this is something you can work on now to ensure the likelihood of your landing the job in the future.

Most departments require a high school diploma or equivalent at minimum. Sometimes you will also need a college degree, experience in a similar field, or a certification from the Criminal Justice Academy depending on the role. U.S. citizenship and an active driver’s license are things you can generally expect to need too.

As far as age requirements, with the new Law Enforcement Training Bill, citizens in South Carolina as young as 18 can begin their careers in detention. You would then have the possibility to move into patrol when you turn 21. Job listings always come with a list of qualifications, so pay close attention to them before you apply.


  1. Do you understand the application process?

Knowing and understanding the ins and out of the hiring process is important, so you know exactly what to expect. HR will definitely do a background check (looking at past criminal history if any, previous work history, your social media profiles, etc.), so make sure you evaluate your past behaviors and associations before applying. 

Departments will also evaluate both your body and mind with processes such as physical ability tests, interviews, polygraph tests, psychological evaluations and more. The entire application process can take up to a few months. Keep in mind you might have to go to the academy to become certified, so this can be an additional hurdle before you’re able to officially start the job. 


  1. Why do you want to go into law enforcement?

Know your motivation behind wanting to join law enforcement, and make sure your intentions are right. Be sure to research the department you’re interested in ahead of time and make sure it’s a good fit for you. If you are unsure if it’s the right direction for you, reach out to the department to see what opportunities they have for you to get a sneak peek at the role before diving in.

At LCSD, you have the opportunity to ride along or participate in our Explorer program if you are between the ages of 14-20. This program gives students a behind-the-scenes look at a career in law enforcement and offers students a personal awareness of the criminal justice system through training, practical experiences, competition and other activities. Some departments will also offer ride-alongs, which are a great way to get a feel for the role.

It’s important to keep in mind there are many different opportunities inside each department, so find out what resonates with you and work toward meeting the requirements of that role. Preparation is the key to a successful career.

If you’re interested in working for the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, please get in touch. We would love to discuss what we can do to get you in a career you’re passionate about. You can learn more about us and get in touch here: Join LCSD – Join the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office