does a college degree really matter..... [Archive] - Glock Talk

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cowboywannabe
11-02-2012, 14:29
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 advance....so 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.

phred119
11-02-2012, 14:39
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.

cowboywannabe
11-02-2012, 14:57
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.

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 paroles...et cetera....

collim1
11-02-2012, 15:09
You can always come work with me Cowboy.

Happypuppy
11-02-2012, 15:10
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


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cowboywannabe
11-02-2012, 15:33
You can always come work with me Cowboy.

tempting, but the drive (in my truck) would bankrupt me.

blueiron
11-02-2012, 15:37
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.

cowboywannabe
11-02-2012, 15:40
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.

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.

blueiron
11-02-2012, 15:54
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.

Trigger Finger
11-02-2012, 16:10
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.

Dave Richardson
11-02-2012, 16:16
Yes, it does.

rudeboy3
11-02-2012, 16:36
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:

Hack
11-02-2012, 17:20
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.

razdog76
11-02-2012, 21:46
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.

lawman800
11-02-2012, 22:16
It's who you know, not what you know.

Goldendog Redux
11-02-2012, 22:36
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.

MF

scottydl
11-02-2012, 22:48
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.

opelwasp
11-03-2012, 02:04
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.

FiremanMike
11-03-2012, 06:14
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 advance....so 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.

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.

FiremanMike
11-03-2012, 06:16
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.

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.

lawman800
11-04-2012, 00:09
College makes you dumber sometimes because you start overthinking things and also, some of the drinking kills brain cells. College is not the end all.

rednoved
11-04-2012, 00:16
College makes you dumber sometimes because you start overthinking things and also, some of the drinking kills brain cells. College is not the end all.

:rofl:

PinkoCommie
11-04-2012, 01:45
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 advance....so 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.

If nothing else, a degree might help you figure out how to use an apostrophe, and how to spell "frustrating". ;)

And, with less snark, if all you want from a degree is a better entry position into another department, I would posit that it is not worth the effort. If you think that some rigorous study might make you a more rounded person and a better critical thinker, go for it.

Sgt127
11-04-2012, 10:07
A degree does not make a better Police Officer. Someone who is going to be a great cop will be one, with or without the degree. On the flip side, the degree can't hurt, it can only help you.

As you work your way up in a department, its alot less about being a cop and alot more about being a business manager. Payrolls, budgets, trends, crime analysis etc. An MBA, an accounting degree stuff like that may be very useful.

I have 70 something hours of college. I took classes I thought were interesting and, never got a degree. Where I am now, a degree would do nothing for me. I'm as topped out as I can get with Master Peace Officer, and seniority as a senior Sergeant. Its also as far as I ever wanted to go. Just passed up the last LT test. I've got 26 years in, same department. If I made LT, it would likely be back to late nights, it would take 3 years to top out as an LT and then I would retire in another year. Not worth it for me.

If you want to ever get into the upper ranks of a mid-large sized department, you need a degree these days. And, thats likely OK. Heck, a four year degree is pretty much the same as a high school diploma was 40 years ago.

If you are young enough, and want it, go get the degree, it can never hurt you. Just get it in something you can use outside of Police work if you ever change your mind. I'm stuck being a cop now. Its OK, I wouldn't have changed a thing about my life, but, my options were always limited.

ateamer
11-04-2012, 10:21
You can be well-educated without a college degree. If you have the basics down well and your writing is generally above reproach, go get life and work experience, which is far more valuable when it comes to law enforcement. College classrooms don't count much for life experience...well maybe for dealing with left-wing *********s.

CW Mock
11-04-2012, 14:11
You can be well-educated without a college degree. If you have the basics down well and your writing is generally above reproach, go get life and work experience, which is far more valuable when it comes to law enforcement. College classrooms don't count much for life experience...well maybe for dealing with left-wing *********s.

Funny you mention that ... One thing I learned in college was how impossible it is to reason with true-believer left wing nuts. You can't.

I got a lot of things from college other than what I learned directly in class. I don't think a degree will hurt me at all in the future.

In my current agency it means nothing, and I think our more formally educated guys are treated with some contempt. Some agencies I have seen offer incentives for getting a degree, etc. There are even some around my area which require it.

If you want it for the challenge, and the development of some thinking skills, go for it. A cop can get a lot from it. If you want it just for more money later - better be ready to shell a lot out up front. Took me 5 years to pay my college costs off.


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DaBigBR
11-04-2012, 15:35
The only obvious example I can think of are the university police in our town. Being a non-civil service agency, they are able to hire people in to any rank. They have hired experienced, educated cops from other agencies in to supervisory positions as well as administrative positions. It's a double-edged sword, IMO, as it gives the agency the ability to choose basically whoever they want, but it can be understandably frustrating to internal candidates and even to just rank and file folk who are suddenly outranked by somebody from "out of town."