October 15, 2021

How to Become a Public Safety Professional

The field of Public Safety is primarily concerned with administrative and operational functions in emergency management, and can encompass many different occupations, such as law enforcement, emergency medical, and firefighting. A career in Public Safety can be richly rewarding, allowing a person to serve their community in a number of roles, from the Police Officer to the Fire Chief.

Training for a Position in Public Safety

Basic training for any firefighter position can be obtained through community colleges. Many two-year colleges provide courses in fire science and emergency medicine. Many two-year colleges also provides course work in criminal justice. These training programs provide the necessary training for entry-level positions in the Fire Service or Law Enforcement. A college degree is an excellent way to begin a career in Public Safety. An undergraduate or graduate degree in public safety provides preparation for positions in law enforcement, government and private security, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and probation officers. Further, the degree can be a foundation for law school or graduate school. Psychology, Criminal justice, law, and forensics are some of the courses relevant to the Public Safety major. Skills expected in any Public Safety position include responding to emergencies, written and verbal communication including public speaking, the ability to apply critical thinking to problem-solving, decision making, and personnel management. These skills are generally obtained in military, police, and firefighter training, and may be augmented by related college course work.

General Requirements

Applicants for any public safety position must be 18 years of age, while some agencies require applicants to be at least 21 years old, and possess basic math and literacy skills. Since the work necessarily involves the public trust, any public safety position will require a background check covering criminal, financial, and personal histories. A check of references must show the applicant’s good moral character, including no history of felony convictions. A person working in the public safety field must show positive traits that demonstrate responsibility, good character, and self-discipline.

Duties, Roles, and Responsibilities

The core duties of any person working in the field of Public Safety are to preserve peace, uphold the rights and dignity of all people. Ethical conduct, integrity, respect, and responsibility are vital attributes of anyone wishing to work in Public Safety. Paramedics respond to medical emergencies and provide basic to advanced life support and transportation of stricken individuals to hospitals. Firefighters engage in fire suppression, prevention, and investigation. Police Officers’ duties involve the apprehension of persons suspected of criminal acts, as well as the investigation and prevention of criminal behavior. A position in Public Safety may begin as an entry-level Firefighter, Paramedic, or Police Officer. Obtaining a degree in Public Safety can put a person on track for promotion, rising through the ranks of his or her department. Management positions may follow career success, allowing for progressively responsible positions and training. The culmination of most public safety careers is the attainment of an administrative position, as the Chief Administrator of a Police or Fire Department. Larger cities may have Emergency Management Departments, which oversee the operations of all groups involved in Public Safety.