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does a college degree really matter.....

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by cowboywannabe, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. cowboywannabe

    cowboywannabe you savvy?

    Jan 26, 2001
    really, if youre already with a department a degree can help you move up the chain of command, if the department is big enough.

    if youre with a small department a degree means next to nothing as there is no room to youre left with starting over at the bottom with a larger department.

    anybody know of small department which hire cops from other agencies into a higher than patrolman position because of a degree? i dont mean senior patrolman or corporal....

    im in a positon where i i can go no further with my department, going to another department means a pay cut and going to the bottom rung of the ladder again.....its frustraghting.
  2. phred119


    Sep 29, 2004
    South Carolina
    I don't know of any, other than agencies that hire chiefs from outside, instead of promoting a new chief from within. There are some local agencies around here that will hire people from other agencies into higher positions, but it's usually who you know, not what you know or degree you have.

  3. cowboywannabe

    cowboywannabe you savvy?

    Jan 26, 2001
    thats what i figured....ive been in patrol for 11 years and have no where to go. i have a young child at home and nights weekends and holidays have gotten old.

    i figure i need to put in resumes for juvi probation or pardons and cetera....
  4. collim1

    collim1 Shower Time!

    Mar 14, 2005
    You can always come work with me Cowboy.
  5. It can help. But it's not a guarantee of promotion. It also adds flexibility if you want to go somewhere else. I think people are looking long and hard at it with the price of education.

    I have worked at places that subsidized, that can be a help

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
  6. cowboywannabe

    cowboywannabe you savvy?

    Jan 26, 2001
    tempting, but the drive (in my truck) would bankrupt me.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  7. blueiron


    Aug 10, 2004
    I disagree, based on the cause of your frustration.

    Nearly any degree makes the employee a stronger analytic thinker, a more educated person, and exposes one to different concepts, beliefs, and higher orders of cognition. How is that "next to nothing"? It may take decades, but the education you get today will benefit you at some point in the future. Retirement is mandatory for those not killed on the job and you'll have to start all over again.

    You're frustrated at a lack of challenges and upward mobility. A small agency may not have a myriad of positions, but then a large agency usually has a myriad of applicants for every billet.

    Don't confuse having a degree or several for a guarantee of promotion or promotional opportunities. Timing, placement, and preparation is what will get you a specialty or promotion.
  8. cowboywannabe

    cowboywannabe you savvy?

    Jan 26, 2001
    i want to put my degree to work, i cant do that where i am currently. student loans need paying so i need more than what is offered where i am.

    im not a small town cop, im a cop in a small town.
  9. blueiron


    Aug 10, 2004
    Based on your level of frustration, it is time to apply elsewhere.

    There is nothing wrong with rebooting one's options. Being a "small town cop" or a "cop in a small town" is nothing to be embarrassed about. One may not have a CSI team to help, but one must be well rounded in all things to properly investigate, make a good arrest, and get a solid conviction in a small town or city.

    Example: Phoenix PD has detectives deal with dead body investigations. That is fine for those cops who don't want to deal with the dead, but the death investigation teaches a heck of a lot of forensics, a lot of science, the art of the interview, and good investigative techniques to the initial patrol officer on the scene. I was glad I learned them when I applied to investigations.

    Good luck in getting the posting you want. There are a few agencies here which will hire supervisors or managers directly from another agency, but it usually goes from a larger agency to a smaller one.
  10. A degree can always help but I don't think it's critical unless you want to promote very high!! At this stage job performance still matters allot.

    I was from a large department so what I experienced may not be the same as a small or medium sized department.
    I had a degree and I think it helped me promote to first level supervisor in a specialized Surveillance Unit, that and job performance, disciplinary record and arrest recap for the type of position I was striving for, along with knowing people inside the unit seemed to be the main things that got me promoted and into a very coveted position!! . That's as high as I wanted to go. There is a very strong rumor and fact that a first level supervisor in a specialized unit is the best place to work on my department!! Job satisfaction is high and the pay is very good.

    I have also seen some officers promote to detective supervisor or sergeant without a degree!!

    If you wanted to promote higher, and thus more money and responsibility like say to a lieutenant or detective lieutenant (D-3), a degrees really helps.

    On my department it was almost a necessity for you to have some kind of degree, the more and higher the better, if you wanted to promote to Captain or higher!!!

    My department did little hireing from other agencies and when they did it was as a patrol officer. In my 30 years I never heard of my department ever hireing someone as a sergeant, lieutenant or detective. With the occasional exception of Chief.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012
  11. rudeboy3


    Feb 19, 2011
    I am working on my degree due to goals for the future that are driving me, but I will leave my opinion. I kind of miss the sergeants, lieutenants etc who are old school cops who learned how to be a cop on the street instead of a classroom. I see a lot of people now who have masters degrees and the reason they promote early is solely because of there education, not because of what kind of cop they were. Luckily in my agency right now its not too bad but where I want to go, I am not sure I will fit in (Feds) :rofl:
  12. Hack

    Hack Crazy CO Gold Member

    I think it helps more in large agencies, some state agencies, as well as most federal agencies. Even in my federal agency it can help if you plan on moving up.

    Sent from my communicator.
  13. razdog76

    razdog76 Heavy Mettle

    Sep 26, 2007
    Cowboywannabe, you are asking a complicated question. The sort answer is that it depends.

    Blueiron's answer for you described part of it perfectly. I had my associate in LE before I had a job. My first commision was as a reserve in an agency with 5 full time officers, when offered a full time job it was for 12.5k/year without the benefits package. Nobody else had any college. I moved to a Sheriff's Office with about 150 sworn. I finished my Bachelor's about two years ago, and it took me about seven years to complete between work, divorce, being a dad, and working OT. I started working on it because I snapped my right PCL. After I finished mine, I began to conduct my investigations in a much more thorough and analytical method. I think it benefitted me, and it benefited the citizens of my county because I can guaranty that they are getting the very best chance of resolving their complaint.

    Now, for the other sides of this coin. Let's face it, an associate degree is not necessary to do this job, and neither is a baccalaureate, but it helps for all the reasons Blueiron mentioned, but in my experience with smaller departments you will have more education than the executives and supervisors. This may make them consider you as a threat instead of an asset. This seems to be dependent on their leadership ability.

    If nothing else look at it in terms of investing in yourself. There is the distinct chance that you will have to separate from LE abruptly due to an injury, politics, retirement etc... what will you be able to do after? If you choose to pursue a degree, you need to decide in what field (that topic has been beat to death).

    Lastly, since you have already been in the field for a while, you may consider going to the local community college with the best reputation in you area, and see how much credit they will give you to finish a degree in LE, Criminal Justice, Paralegal who cares. Once you have the degree, it is yours! You may then transfer to a four year institution, and if you need to stop for any reason you have completed one already.
  14. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

    It's who you know, not what you know.
  15. Goldendog Redux

    Goldendog Redux Shut your mouth

    Aug 22, 2003
    My two Bachelor's degrees account for nothing and they never will with regard to promotion or pay.

    Hell, when you have an edumacation the salty dogs say things like "He's book smart and all but does he have common sense?"

    It is the only profession in the world where people look down on you for having attended-and graduated-an honest to goodness university.

  16. scottydl


    May 31, 2005
    The Middle
    Experience means more in law enforcement than formal education. But you (the OP) are saying you have both, so that's a win-win.

    I started over last year after 9.5 years at my first agency. My circumstance sounds very similar to yours... I had nowhere left to go. BEST DECISION I EVER MADE. I literally do not have a single regret, and I left a specialty position with evenings and weekends off. But that wouldn't have lasted forever, and I needed to start over while I was still young enough (33 at the time) to put in 20 years at the new place.

    I now work at a department 5x the size of my first (25 to 130) with tons of opportunities that will present themselves over time. Oh, and my (and my wife's) student loans are almost paid off after 12+ years! ;) I could not be happier.
  17. opelwasp

    opelwasp ZOG/MORON LUBE

    Nov 22, 2005
    Northern California
    I am 1 class away from having my degree. I cannot fathom how getting it will help me in any aspect of my job, other than getting promoted and having the two letters behind my name. Hell I haven't even read one of the books that has been assigned to me. Getting a degree was a powerful waste of time, but I need it to get a 20% top step raise in half the time it would have taken me to get the 10% top step raise without it. I also can't promote to Sgt without it either.

    I guess it could help someone who has no critical thinking skills and zero knowledge of how to use the internet.
  18. FiremanMike

    FiremanMike Way too busy

    Jul 26, 2007
    The interwebs
    Here's the thing with college, it helps you think. I've been working towards my bachelors for the last few years and its been tough and frustrating and I've been annoyed at garbage classes that don't interest me. When I look back, I see how everything works together to develop my ability to better think critically and analyze a scenario from multiple sides before making a judgement or decision.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2012
  19. FiremanMike

    FiremanMike Way too busy

    Jul 26, 2007
    The interwebs
    I disagree, I had above average critical thinking before starting back to college. I feel the design of these courses has taken me to the next level.