How Can You Move Forward in Your Career in Public Service?

How Can You Move Forward in Your Career in Public Service?

The public service sector is an exciting field with many job opportunities. You can go far in the industry when you have the necessary background and enough experience in your position to advance.

An essential part of advancing in public service is to have the proper education. Your degree in policing can help you access various positions that can lead to more opportunities over time.

But there are many other points to note when aiming to progress in this field. In addition to having a proper degree, you’ll need to complete the necessary exams in your industry. You will also require thorough experience in your job to go far, although the requirements will vary by position.

What education is necessary?

First, you will require the proper educational background to advance in public service. A bachelor of policing degree from a provider such as Wilfrid Laurier University is an excellent way to start.

A bachelor of policing degree encompasses managing the law and working as a police officer. The degree illustrates your understanding of how the legal system works and how to handle different situations where people may break the law.

Most police departments will require their recruits to have some educational background in policing. A bachelor of policing degree can show your commitment to the field.

You will learn many points during your BA studies, including:

  • Different policing models
  • Ethics and accountability standards
  • Leadership skills and how to command a group
  • Managing crises you may encounter during work
  • Handling more advanced forms of crime, including ones that require further investigation

Your studies are necessary for helping you understand how policing works and how to maintain an ethical standard for your work. You will stand out from other recruits and job candidates with your thorough understanding of the field and how it works.

Some studies can also include specific courses surrounding concerns in your area. These include courses on managing legal situations on Native lands, handling cybercrime and following different protocols in your local area. Every public servant will encounter different situations and manage various cases, so proper studies surrounding how policing works in your area will be vital to your success.

The timing for completing your bachelor of policing degree will vary, with many people spending a full four years to complete the program. However, some people can attain their degrees in three years or less, especially if they study online. You may also transfer existing credits from prior education to your BA studies, although the credits you can transfer may vary.

Academy and field training are necessary

You may be required to complete police academy training before entering the public service field. Police academy work involves learning how to handle various real-life situations. You will use the knowledge you learned in your BA studies to demonstrate your understanding of the field.

The aspects of academy training will vary, but generally, you should expect the following in your studies:

  • Classes on laws in your local area
  • Investigation standards
  • How to write reports
  • Hands-on instruction on handling firearms and other necessary equipment

Police academy training can take about six months to complete. You’ll also need to complete an exam afterward, with the passing grade varying by state or district.

You’ll also undergo field training to prove your ability to operate as a public servant. Police Chief Magazine writes that field training is about helping people develop practical knowledge of law enforcement and understanding the professional culture within the field.

You’ll complete various work projects in your community. A supervisor will review your ability to handle multiple tasks and interact with others.

Those who can complete academy and field training will enter a probationary period. The Balance Careers states that the probationary period typically lasts a year for most workers. The time frame lets your supervisor observe you to ensure you’re capable of handling your job well. This assessment won’t be as extensive as what you’d experience during field training, but you are still expected to perform well and be responsible in your studies.

The amount of training and testing necessary will be extensive, so when preparing to move forward in the field of public service, make sure that you know what to expect. Most importantly, be sure that whatever position you enter has standards you are comfortable with meeting.

Common tests to review

Examinations are an essential part of entering public service. Many civil service positions require people to complete specific exams to be eligible for work. The tests you’ll require will vary depending on the position you’re applying for, but these exams often involve many similar points:

  • You’ll have to show your ability to read and understand different concepts surrounding the law.
  • Your ability to apply critical thinking skills to various events and scenarios will be tested.
  • A polygraph examination may be required to identify your honesty.
  • A physical fitness test may be necessary, depending on the field of work. The test may review your ability to physically keep up with various stressful situations, including cases where you might work in inclement conditions.

These tests may be conducted alongside an interview. An employer can interview you to see how well you can respond to specific scenarios. Your personality will be under assessment at this point as well. The interview is a more intensive analysis of your ability to work and can cover topics that go well beyond what you might find in an exam.

In addition, you will likely undergo a background check. The analysis reviews your prior employment and education history and confirms whatever data you provide. The analysis will also bring up if you have a prior criminal record. This detailed check is necessary, as you might become ineligible for a position if you have a past record. Agencies want to ensure you aren’t a potential threat, so they will conduct a thorough background check on you before offering employment.

What happens after probation?

You can start advancing in your career after you complete your probationary period. Your BA in Policing will help you move forward in the field, as a degree will not only demonstrate your commitment to your career but also illustrate your knowledge of the field.

There are a range of different career options within the policing sector, so it is important to research what might be of interest to you and where you’d like your career to go. Here are just five possible career options within the police department and a breakdown of what they entail:  

1. Crime scene investigator

A crime scene investigator will be tasked with documenting crime scenes by taking photographs and physical measurements of the scene. These individuals are also responsible for securing forensic evidence for analysis, including fingerprints, footprints, blood and more. The work is about gathering as many details about a crime as possible and helping to find a lead in a case. 

2. Correctional officer

A correctional officer works in a jail or prison. This individual will supervise prisoners and escort them in and out of different areas of the compound. Officers can also provide security for entry and exit points. This position is about protecting people who have been arrested or convicted while ensuring no one gets into further trouble.

3. Intelligence analyst

An intelligence analyst will check the qualifications and histories of various people. The most common use of an intelligence analyst involves conducting background checks on people applying for jobs, citizenship or anything else of value. Some investigations can also involve concerns over misconduct and other activities in the public service sector. Investigative projects are often critical to ensuring people and entities are protected, making this one of the most valuable positions in public service.

4. K-9 officer

K-9 officers are handlers for dogs who can track or take down suspects. These dogs may also be trained to identify drugs, explosives and other suspicious materials. The officer will keep a hold on a police dog, but the officer may also be responsible for training these dogs to handle their duties.

5. Probation officer

Prison inmates who are released before they finish serving their sentences are placed on probation. A probation officer will supervise these inmates and meet with them to ensure they are adhering to the terms of their parole. Some of these terms include finding proper employment and paying restitution, although the conditions of parole will vary by person. The probation officer’s job is to ensure inmates can safely and reasonably reenter society while learning to become better people who will not break the law again.

How much experience is necessary?

The amount of experience you will require in public service before moving on to a more advanced position can be extensive. One example of this involves becoming a homicide detective. You would require multiple years of experience in policing to enter this position, as it involves a thorough analysis of a criminal scenario in which someone is killed or significantly injured. Such jobs often entail high-stakes cases and can involve very sensitive material, so a police station will likely reserve these cases for someone with more experience and understanding of the criminal justice system.

Positions involving significant high-stakes work may require additional experience. Every department will have different demands on their employees, so check with your employer to see what you can expect from your work.

Can you potentially earn a higher salary?

Those who progress further in public service can enjoy the benefit of a higher salary. Positions that focus on specialties or are in high demand are often likely to warrant higher pay rates.

It is well known that public service officer salaries vary depending on the role and can increase depending on where you live. Major cities, for example, often have higher salaries in line with higher costs of living. 

However, people who have more experience or a higher education background are more likely to attain more advanced salaries for their work. These people are often considered more valuable and capable of handling more complex or detailed tasks. Attaining higher education and getting enough years of experience on the job are critical to helping someone enter a more profitable and viable career in public service.


The possibility to advance in the public service sector is significant. If you are looking to climb the ladder, you can find many interesting positions in this field that will provide a plethora of responsibilities. Some positions can be attained if you develop specific skills, while others are available after years of experience and specialized training.

Fundamentally, you’ll need to complete the necessary studies and training to advance in this field. You can earn a degree in policing to improve your chances while showing your desire to work in the public service sector. Make sure to look around for openings in your field and complete all the necessary training and probationary measures to help ensure the highest chances for success.