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Tips for Leaving Law Enforcement


Leaving law enforcement for new career opportunities comes with challenges, but it doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. A professional who has dedicated their life to law enforcement (perhaps even earning a law enforcement degree) may be intimidated by the idea of leaving the police force.

Many careers for people leaving law enforcement benefit from having someone with a background in law enforcement. There are also careers within law enforcement as a civilian that someone may feel more comfortable applying for without the need to completely leave law enforcement.

Should I Quit Law Enforcement?

The main question that comes up for someone considering leaving law enforcement for new career possibilities is “Should I quit law enforcement?” or “Do I need to get out of law enforcement?” The answer to these questions will depend on the individual asking them.

Some considerations for leaving law enforcement can include:

  • Riskiness or increasing riskiness of the job
  • Risks not worth the pay
  • A lack of fulfillment
  • Distaste for the law enforcement culture
  • The realities don’t align with expectations
  • Stress and burnout
  • More time at home
  • To pursue higher education
  • The desire to do something different

These examples are not exhaustive. When someone says I want to get out of law enforcement, their reasons can vary across a wide spectrum.

For some, the question of “Do I need to get out of law enforcement?” has more to do with their personal desires and goals, rather than the job itself. For example, someone may want to start a business or go into a different field because they’re more passionate about it.

How Do I Go About Trying to Get Out of Law Enforcement?

Going from law enforcement to civilian isn’t always easy for several reasons. The psychological switch from enforcing the law to being just another person who needs the protection of law enforcement can make leaving law enforcement difficult for some.

For many in law enforcement, the job is more than a job, it’s a calling and way of life. This can also make leaving law enforcement for new career opportunities difficult.

Trying to get out of law enforcement starts with having a goal in mind. There are many careers for people leaving law enforcement, but it’s not a good idea to leave employment without having the next step in place. Once that goal is in place with a plan to achieve it, then it’s okay to hand in an official resignation.

People who want to leave law enforcement should keep in mind that their states or counties may have very specific rules on how to resign. People leaving law enforcement should make sure to follow the rules that pertain to them very closely. This is especially true of those seeking to leave law enforcement by retiring.

What Are Some Examples of Careers for People Leaving Law Enforcement?

Law enforcement teaches and fosters a variety of skills, and many of those skills can translate well to several career options. As there are different types of law enforcement, individuals may have developed skills that can help them make the transition to a new career somewhat seamlessly.

In addition, some law enforcement skills can help someone stay within the law enforcement field without needing to maintain their status as a sworn officer. For example, the criminology and criminal justice fields typically welcome former law enforcement professionals who want to work in a civilian capacity.

The nature of law enforcement can help prepare someone for entering other fields. So, take advantage of trouble resolution, hazard mitigation, and potential problem recognition skills. Several private-sector jobs also make good use of law enforcement skillsets. For example, private investigator, security, firearm training, and teaching positions may be a good fit. Various other careers where the discipline and training gained through working in law enforcement might offer an advantage.

Law Enforcement Transferrable Skills

Former law enforcement professionals can also work in fields that aren’t always obvious. For example, former police officers learn a lot of ways to speak to people. Officers often know how to diffuse situations. They can easily explain things and communicate with people in ways that help them calmly make a decision. These skills lend themselves well to sales positions. In addition, those same skills can help in any career that requires excellent communication skills.

The unique experience of working in law enforcement gives a unique outlook on events, news, and social issues. Former law enforcement professionals can transition into careers that involve journalism, advocacy, writing, and even professional punditry.

Basically, someone leaving law enforcement for new career fields can likely find a career path without too much trouble. Leaving law enforcement doesn’t have to become a pain if the individual sets a goal for their new career and sticks to what they’re both passionate about and good at.

Law enforcement skills aren’t unique to the law enforcement field. Those skills can translate to numerous jobs, fields, and industries. Of course, continuing education can become necessary for certain careers, so that too can become a goal for someone trying to get out of law enforcement.


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