There are some careers designed to keep people safe from harm and protect people's properties. Police officers take up one of these spots. Officers enforce the law and maintain order. Fire fighters also fit the bill. They prevent and fight fires, and also rescue victims. Both careers can be stressful and hazardous, but they are ultimately satisfying because they emphasize public service.
Although popular media often depicts police officers shooting their guns and fighting criminals, their tasks typically require constant patrolling and talking patiently with individuals from all walks of life. They respond to 911 calls, write citations, conduct traffic and arrest people who’ve violated the law. To ensure fair and accurate dealings with the public, they write down their activities at the end of the day. They can then use these accounts when called to testify in court. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 7 percent growth rate for this type of employment, which is half the rate predicted for all other occupations.
Different departments have different qualifications for police officers. Some want a minimum of a high school diploma. Others demand postsecondary training up to a college degree. Applicants must also be U.S. citizens, at least 21 years old, and be able to pass several tests. Once accepted, they enter a police academy to learn about subjects in the classroom such as civil rights, constitutional law and ethics. Officers also learn about self-defense, arrest techniques, defensive driving and first aid during field exercises. When they graduate, they may go through a probationary period before becoming full officers. They can then receive promotions to higher ranks that offer more responsibilities and higher pay.
Firefighters are most commonly seen driving their trucks to the scene of a fire so they can put out the flames, working in well-coordinated teams. However, these public servants also respond to many medical emergencies. They pull victims from crushed cars at accident scenes or stabilize someone having a heart attack so the victim can be transported to an emergency room. They also teach the public about fire safety and conduct fire drills. As with police officers, fire fighters must maintain a written log of their activities.
The educational qualifications of a fire fighter can also range from a high school diploma to a college degree, depending on the hiring department. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a valid driver’s license, and pass physical, medical and oral exams designed to test their fitness. Successful recruits then undergo several weeks of training at fire academies. They learn building codes, how to prevent and fight fires, equipment use and emergency medical procedures, both in the classroom and the field. Some departments have apprenticeship programs that last up to four years, with paid training under experienced firefighters.
Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.