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Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security

Careers in this cluster

Cluster definition

Are you able to work under pressure?
Can you work with various kinds of people?
Do you like to help people?
Can you work in the face of danger?
Are you good at winning arguments?
Do you instruct friends and family members on laws and regulations?

If you answered yes to two or more of the questions above, you might be interested in considering a career in law, public safety, corrections, or security.

If you are interested in working in this cluster, you have several options. One option is to guard the public by enforcing the law. Or you might provide fire protection and security. Another option is to provide legal services people who commit crimes.


Correction services

Workers in the Correction Services pathway are responsible for watching people who have been arrested or who have been convicted of a crime. Your primary mission would be to protect the public. In addition, you might treat or educate the offenders. Or you might work to help people leave corrections and return to a life in the public.

Emergency and fire management services

Every year, fires and other emergencies take lives and destroy property. Firefighters and emergency services workers help protect the public against these dangers. You might be the first emergency personnel at the scene of a traffic accident or medical emergency. In the Emergency and Fire management Services pathway, you may be called upon to put out a fire, treat injuries, or perform other vital functions.

Law enforcement services

People depend on police officers and detectives to protect their lives and property. In the Law Enforcement Services pathway, you might have duties that range from controlling traffic to investigating crimes. You would maintain order; enforce laws; issue traffic tickets; and investigate accidents. In addition, you would present evidence in court; serve legal documents for the court system; and arrest and process offenders.

Legal services

The legal system affects nearly every aspect of our lives, from buying a home to crossing the street. For this reason, you would hold positions of great responsibility and are obligated to follow a strict code of ethics.

Security and protective services

Employees in the Security and Protective Services pathway often work in public buildings, factories, warehouses, government buildings, and military bases. You might protect products, computers and machines, laboratories, or other employees. You check people and vehicles and walk through hallways, rooms, and buildings. Or you may watch camera monitors.

Level of education and earnings

The training and education requirements to work in the occupations included in the Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security cluster depend on the pathway and the type of work performed. Some occupations require less than one month of on-the-job training; however, lawyers need a doctoral degree.

The information provided in the table below, presents the level of education or training required to work in the occupations related to this cluster and the median wages for those occupations. Note that some occupations may have more than one required level because the type of work performed may vary in specific jobs.

Also, keep in mind that there are non-wage benefits that workers receive. For example, these types of benefits are health insurance, paid vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. It is important to consider these benefits when you are looking at pay. Some benefits, such as health care, are worth a lot of money. You should carefully weigh a job that pays well but does not have many benefits against one that has good benefits and lower pay. Remember, how much an occupation pays is only one factor to consider when making career choices.

  National Annual
Median Wage
Washington Annual
Median Wage
Short-Term, On-the-Job Training (Less than One Month)
Crossing Guards$28,960 $37,190
Life Guards and Ski Patrollers$22,410 $26,510
Parking Enforcement Officers$39,840 $58,230
Security Guards$28,490 $34,900
Moderate-Term, On-the-Job Training (One to Twelve Months)
Animal Control Workers$36,330 $48,270
Bailiffs$45,760 $58,400
Corrections Officers$44,330 $55,290
Legal Secretaries$46,360 $52,350
Police Patrol Officers$61,380 $78,870
Sheriffs$61,380 $78,870
Title Examiners and Searchers$47,130 $47,030
Long-Term, On-the-Job Training (Over One Year)
Firefighters$49,620 $75,200
Postsecondary Vocational Training (Certificate or Diploma)
Court Reporters$57,150 $68,960
Emergency Medical Technicians$34,320 $72,850
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Detectives and Investigators$81,920 $84,580
Fire Inspectors$62,510 $78,040
Fire Investigators$62,510 $78,040
Police and Detective Supervisors$89,030 $107,580
Private Detectives and Investigators$50,090 $48,920
Associate Degree
Fish and Game Wardens$57,710 $79,960
Paralegals$50,940 $57,670
Bachelor's Degree
Forensic Science Technicians$58,230 $58,920
Law Clerks$53,540 $57,670
Probation Officers$53,020 $61,370
Work Experience Plus a Bachelor's or Higher Degree
Arbitrators and Mediators$62,270 $64,340
Professional Degree
Judges and Hearing Officers$99,850 - $133,920 $101,800 - $121,640
Lawyers$120,910 $115,500

Employment & outlook

Employment opportunities in law, public safety, and security depend on several factors. First of all, turnover will create job openings as people leave their jobs or retire. Work in law enforcement, fire protection, and corrections can be dangerous and stressful. These three areas also depend on government funding. To lower crime rates, more money has been budgeted to increase law enforcement. As a result, the prison population has increased. So, new jobs have been created. However, state and local governments are facing financial problems and may cut spending in these areas to balance budgets.

The amount and types of legal services available have increased. As incomes increase, there is more money to spend on these services. However, law firms are relying more on the work of paralegals and are hiring fewer lawyers to provide those services.