Individual Career Stories
Detailed info from people on the job
Careers in protective services include a number of options such as correctional officers, fire fighters, police officers, private detectives, and security guards. The principal work of protective service professionals is to maintain safety within our communities and protect lives and properties from a variety of hazards. Many occupations in this field are considered stressful and dangerous, with the possibility of facing injury while performing job duties, such as those of a police officer dealing with criminals or fire fighters responding to a fire. Job requirements vary by field, with most requiring individuals to complete a specialized program and a period of on-the-job training.
Protective Services Subcategories
Protective services careers tend to attract honest individuals with a high level of integrity. Individuals should like working with people and have an appreciation and respect for public service and the law. Good judgment along with the ability to make decisions quickly are also important skills to possess, especially in emergency situations. Many jobs have physical fitness and health requirements, as some protective services careers require a great deal of strength and stamina, and may also be stressful and hazardous at times.
Requirements vary by position, but in general, individuals interested in a protective services career must have a high school diploma or GED equivalent, with some requiring at least a bachelorís degree, such as required for corrections officers by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Many occupations in this field are specialized and have their own classroom instruction and practical training programs, such as a fire or police academy. In addition, most positions have a period of on-the-job training, and may also require drug screenings and medical exams.
Several career options exist in both the private and public sectors in the field of protective services. The following are a few examples of job choices in this field:
- Correctional officers, also referred to as detention officers, guard inmates who have been arrested or convicted of a crime. Correctional officers responsibilities may be both inside and outside of state, local, and federal prisons, such as escorting inmates between areas or outside to jobs or necessary trips, standing guard over activities, patrolling the grounds, and controlling disturbances.
- Fire fighters protect life and property from fires and hazardous materials that may cause injuries due to fire or explosions. Considered a difficult and often hazardous job, fire fighters are usually assigned a specific duty at the scene, such as connecting hoses to hydrants or climbing ladders. Often the first responders to scenes such as traffic accidents or medical emergencies, fire fighters are trained in a variety of emergency situations.
- Private detectives, also called investigators, perform investigations on behalf of individuals and companies to research facts in personal, legal, or financial matters. Private detectives use a variety of means to perform their research such as performing surveillance and background checks, interviewing people, making phone calls, and gathering evidence. They may also be called upon to present evidence and testify at hearings or court trials.
- Security guards are responsible for protecting property or assets. Duties vary by assignment, but security guards are often hired in places such as hospitals, museums, banks, private businesses, government offices, department stores, and nightclubs. Protection may be done by a stationary or mobile patrol position, and may include performing security checks, working with emergency services such as police and fire, and writing observation reports, among others.
What People Love and Hate about Protective Service Careers
Here is a selection from Inside Career Info's Career Reports of what people love and hate about their protective services jobs:
- "helping people and saving lives. But the most exciting part is fighting fires. You get an amazing adrenaline rush that helps you to do it."
- "being able to serve the community. Firefighters are highly regarded by the public and enjoy an enormous amount of respect and trust. We are allowed access into peopleís homes in the event of an emergency and are given complete trust with their lives and valuables."
- "being awakened out of a dead sleep and being forced to make urgent decisions, especially in the dead of winter. It is very tough on the body and the mind."
- " seeing the suffering that comes with house fires, vehicle accidents and medical emergencies. The devastation or total loss caused by a house fire is tremendously painful for its inhabitants who often lose everything. Sometimes we are unable to save the lives that we work so hard to protect, and the loss of life can be very painful to see."