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Which Public Safety Degree Should I Take?

If you’re looking to start a career in Public Safety or already enjoy your current role but want to set yourself up for promotion, you may be looking at getting an additional qualification.      

Graduating with a Bachelor’s can open a lot of doors for your career in public safety. It can pave the way to new opportunities and higher pay

However, studying for a degree is an investment – both financially and timewise. It would be terrible to finally qualify, only to find out the degree you’ve chosen is wrong for your career choice. So how do you know which degree to take? 

This guide should give you a little insight into which degree is right for you, for whichever career you’re interested in.

Which are the best public safety careers? 

The public safety field offers plenty of different career choices. Everything from park rangers and airport security through to firefighters and police officers all play a part in public safety. 

Entry-level positions in the industry don’t always require a degree, and you may be able to build your way through the ranks like this. However, the further you want to progress in your career, the more important obtaining a degree will be. Online degrees give you the opportunity to maintain your current job role while helping to progress your career

Degrees in public safety can easily lead to roles like chief of police, intelligence analyst, and emergency management director. You could find yourself working in local and provincial governments, courts, the military, or airline security. 

Below are some of the best public safety careers and what type of degree you’ll need to succeed in the role.

Policing and Law Enforcement

At the top of the public safety field is, of course, the police force. As a police officer, you first and foremost serve the community; you’ll help those in need of assistance while also preventing crime. 

The annual salary for police officers is around $81,000 a year, and there are plenty of ways to progress in the career. You may start as an officer and work your way through the ranks into a superintendent or chief. 

The application process to join the police force is complex, and there’s plenty of competition. As a foundation, you’ll need great communication skills and a keen attention to detail. You’ll also need to be physically fit with the ability to work in high-intensity situations. 

To advance in law enforcement, you might want to consider a degree in criminology, with a focus on policing. This degree will help you grasp issues related to addiction, youth justice, and crimes against humanity. It will give you a better understanding as to why crimes occur and improve your surveillance and research skills. 


Working in the country’s detention facilities, you’ll work with individuals on re-entering society or supervised release. Again, this career doesn’t necessarily require a degree for entry-level positions; however, you can work your way through a strong progression ladder with the help of the right degree. 

As part of the work, you’ll no doubt be working with educating underprivileged individuals, addiction, and managing mental health. You may also work in probation to ensure offenders meet the terms of their release. 

The work can actually be incredibly rewarding but also hugely challenging, so it’s best to equip yourself with the tools and knowledge you need to be prepared for just about anything. 

In terms of salary, correction officers earn an average of $68,000 a year with other roles available such as juvenile correction officer, parole officer, or even aboriginal liaison officer.

As you’ll be working with people from all walks of life, a BA in Policing is a great option for those wanting to succeed as a corrections officer. Through this type of degree, you’ll learn about crucial topics such as mental health, crime prevention, and diversity. 

Emergency Response

Everyone has been affected by the work of emergency responders at some point in their life. Their important, and lifesaving work inspires a lot of people to pursue a similar career. When disaster strikes, these people are integral in ensuring damage is limited and the community can recover. 

To work in emergency management, you’ll need superb organizational and analytical skills and a high level of communication in order to work effectively both with your colleagues and other emergency services. 

As you’ll likely be first on the scene, emergency response positions do require specific and specialized training. You’ll also benefit from a diploma specifically in emergency management. 

Jobs in emergency response are always in high demand, and the departments tend to experience growth year on year. A career in emergency management could see you enjoying roles as a firefighter or fire chief, public safety educator, or even an analyst.  

The salary outlook for emergency response can massively vary. For example, firefighters can make anything between $42,000 and $102,000, while emergency management specialists make an average of $76,000.

National Security

For most people, the worry about potential terror threats or organized crime is non-existent. But for those working in national security, it’s a huge part of every day. The roles are challenging and often intense, but you’ll feel a real sense of purpose in serving your country. 

National security personnel focus on keeping the country safe from any kind of threat. They work to prevent crime before it happens rather than solving the case afterward. You’ll need to be well versed in the psychology of human behavior, as well as hugely knowledgeable about different cultures and politics.

As there is a significant amount to learn for national security, you may want to consider a Master’s degree in public safety. These graduate degrees focus further on national security, digital analytics, and countering crime. 

To work in national security, you’ll need to be a citizen of the country you reside in and pass both a competency interview and a psychological assessment. Once accepted, you are on your way to a potentially lucrative career in airport security, behavior profiling, and security screening. 

These are just a few roles you can land in public safety. If you’re interested, it’s worth thinking about understanding the requirements for the mentioned degrees in order to stand out from other candidates.

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