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Career Change: Am I Crazy?

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  • Career Change: Am I Crazy?

    Hi All-

    After approximately 13yrs in a technical career, I am strongly considering a career change to Law Enforcement. I have always been somewhat motivated by money, but it has really hit me the last year or so, that job satisfaction strongly out weighs most financial benefits. I am currently working as a Sr Program Manager for a Fortune 500 company in So CA. I make a great living that allows me to own a home, cars, go on vacations at will, etc. At the end of the day, I still dread work everyday, and have little satisfaction.

    I am at a point where I am considering moving to just outside of Denver, and pursuing Law Enforcement, which is where my passion has been since I was 18yrs old. I would be taking a minimum of 100k a year pay cut to start from the bottom, but I honestly believe I'd be much happier doing something I am passionate about.

    The question I have for you all, is if my prior experience would benefit me in the selection process, or hurt me due to the careers being on opposite ends of the spectrum? My thoughts are that since I am in a mid to high level leadershiop role, and have a proven record of of my leadership abilities, combined with vast techinical abilities, that this may work to my advantage. I have been able to grow my career fairly quickly for my age (31), but have never received a degree. Will not having a degree be overlooked by my professional experience? I know this will vary depending on the department, but any insights or thoughts you might have are appreciated.

    I know many will say I am crazy to walk away from a high paying career, but I just have this burning inside that keeps pushing me to Law Enforcement. Thanks in advance, and I look forward to learning more from the forum along the way.

  • #2
    Your accomplishments will reflect well on your chances. Remember though, the degree, or lack of it can be a significant drawback. Do you want to go local? LAPD or LASD for example might be far more willing to hire based on life experiance than would a federal investigative (1811) position.
    At the federal level the gods of hiring almost always require a bachelors degree, and now an honorable discharge with combat era service.
    You have to figure out what you want to do, then do it. Otherwise at your young age you will always regret not trying. Also realize that after 5 to 7 years many officers would kill for your type of life.
    It is a great job, but can make for a sometimes difficult life. Don't romanticize it. Good luck.

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    • #3
      Happiness can not be found in dollar signs, do what you believe will create happiness. When you are on your death bed, make sure you have no more what ifs. Shot for it, but leave the bridge unburnt, so if it doesn't work you have an escape route back to where you started. I wish you best of luck, LE is a difficult and arduous task to get into. I'm currently going through the process, and it's a lot. It all comes down to how bad do you want it..

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      • #4
        Maybe this is just me, but I would seriously consider doing a couple ride-a-longs and see if it still interests you. If it does, I would go through an academy and become reserve/auxiliary somewhere. It will give you a great idea of the job, since you would obviously be doing it, but it would allow you to continue to work your current job. If you do it and don't like it, no big deal, you still have your job. If you really enjoy the work of LE, then quit your job once you find a part/full time job in LE.

        Just realize, the hiring process is VERY tedious and at least around me, there aren't many agencies that are hiring, especially full time. The pay varies, for here it's ~$40-60k starting. Part-time usually offers significantly less ($13/hr), with a maxed-hours (1500), and no benefits. Auxiliary is nothing at all.

        I sacrificed financial stability for a few years and it was tough, and still is. Granted I'm only 23, and wasn't really even making money...but the point is, I wasn't happy with my previous job so I quit and made less money doing something that I enjoyed more. Now that I'm in LE, I absolutely love it. If it truly is your desire, I believe you'll be much happier in the long run.

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        • #5
          Re the feds and your lack of a degree, being "as a Sr Program Manager for a Fortune 500 company" may overcome that hurdle for some agencies. It never hurts to ask.

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          • #6
            Great feedback guys, and much appreciated. I agree that LE is like any other career from the outside. From the outside my current position seems glamorous to some, and people think I'm nuts to walk from it.

            My plan is to apply at multiple agencies in the Denver area, which are both City and County agencies. I notice that the requirements for a degree seem to vary based on department, so my best bet is to probably contact each agency I apply for to determine eligibility. I am in a position that will allow me to take some time off and I plan to self sponsor through the academy to make myself more marketable to the various agencies. Does anyone have any knowledge pertaining to applications pending graduation from the POST cert? Meaning, can I apply to agencies once enrolled in the POST program, or is it best to be certified prior to even applying?

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            • #7
              I have done 6 ride a longs with local agencies, so while it's a small sample, I enjoyed it very much. It's definitely not the run and gun you see on cops, but more so many hours of boredom from what I experienced. The flip side, is that for that one call where you can save or change a life seems to make it all worth it.

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              • #8
                I did a ride along with an FTO who has been with his department for 14yrs; he previously worked at a utilities company until the age of 34 when he was hired at the department. I think your good. Best of luck to you!

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                • #9
                  I agree with all o the above people. A degree may not always be to your benefit though. I have a BS in CJ and still make the same amount as an officer without. We're a degree will help is when u want to promote to inv or detective. It is truly a thank less job. You really have to do it because it is your passion. I learn something every day! Good luck to you!

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                  • #10
                    Save some money for now to make up (at least a little bit) for the pay cut and start applying to LE jobs. Follow your dreams. You only live one life.
                    New York City Department of Correction and US Army. 🇺🇸

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                    • #11
                      Take this with a grain of salt, as I'm just a rook....but I applied to about 10 agencies before I was hired. I put myself through the academy, only ONE person got hired straight out of the academy, and at least around me, hardly any agencies will even consider you unless you already have your certification. That said, there are some out there that will let you apply and go through the motion, pending you actually complete your academy and obtain the certification. Then there are those agencies who sponsor you, and hire you prior to attending the academy, those seem to be few and far between. IMHO, you are far better off and much more competitive getting your certification yourself.

                      Also, there's only a few agencies in my area that required a degree to apply, most of them do not, however you will be at a disadvantage because of that. On the flip side, the agencies in my area are looking for older people, more mature, with more life experience. That said, clearly your age and business experience would be a great asset.

                      If you really want it, it's yours to take!

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                      • #12
                        Thanks again all, please keep the information coming. As mentioned, I am doing exactly as you guys have said, and I put away money to allow me to take the time to focus on the academy and pursuing what I really want. My girlfriend of 12yrs is a Registered Nurse, and part of the deal was that if I put her through school to start her career, she will step up and pay some of the bills when it's my turn. This was suppose to have happened 8yrs ago, but I got sucked into my career because of the money/lifestyle. Age has since taught me the lesson that income doesn't mean much when you're unhappy or can't get away from your job long enough to enjoy it.

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                        • #13
                          Hey man, as others said just go for it. You are still young enough to where you can start somewhere and be at a nice age when you retire from the PD. Don't burn bridges on your way out, in case you need to go back though. And just remember that working shift work means you are going to miss a lot of weekends, holidays, days when you are sleeping so you can work nights etc. If your gf is a nurse and works irregular hours, it might be harder with kids later on.

                          Speaking of, how do you gf someone for 12 years and not get the boot? A friend of mine wants to know :P
                          Last edited by ForzaMilan; 05-07-2013, 08:28 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Career Change: Am I Crazy?

                            It is even possible that you could tie the two interest together in the future. I know one guy that was lying for a well known airline. He was laid off, went back to school, got the MN POST Board requirements completed, and ended up as a suburban cop near me. He left once to go back to flying, but was re-hired a second time by the PD because he was well liked. Last I checked, he was still in the Captains seat at that airline.

                            I have known CPAs, attorneys, school principals, etc that get the "cop bug", Some satisfy it by being a reserve or part time, but others go full time. If you don't give it a shot you will always wonder.

                            It is a little unclear to me exactly what technical career you are in. Maybe it is IT, radio engineering, etc. Regardless, you might find a way to marry the two together a few years down the road with some sworn experience under your belt. I even know a trooper that double majored, got on the state patrol a few years, got that out of his system and went back to IT. However, he came back into IT with some very valuable law enforcement experience that few IT people I know have. The few that I do know that have it are great at cop AND IT work.

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                            • #15
                              RDM So Cal.....you can have my LE job, I will take your job, problem solved

                              In all seriousness, I am at the opposite end, I wish I could find a way out of LE and have been actively looking for other opportunities. I feel I am stuck because I need the job to survive financially which limits my abilities to explore other avenues. Just can't stop paying the mortgage and bills to pursue another career.

                              Been doing this for about 16 years, experienced some great stuff and some f#@ked up stuff, met some great people, but at the end of the day dealing with some of the earth's worst people just wears on me. I get home and look in my children's eyes and ask if its worth it.....if I didn't come home from work one day, was it worth it? Missed social events, a divorce, missed birthdays, working weekends, working holidays, 12-16 hour days, no sleep, no respect (scrutiny from public/media), low pay, your health, thankless job....I could keep going but you get the picture.

                              Take a good look at everything, this job is glamorized on TV when in fact there's nothing glamorous about it in my opinion. If I could do it all over again....I wouldn't be a cop. Just giving you a different perspective other than the rah rah, good for you, following your dreams BS. Good luck in whatever you decide to do.
                              ICE SA

                              Test: July 2009
                              NOR: Sept 2009
                              Interview: Nov 2009
                              NOR: Dec 30, 2010
                              TO: Jan 3, 2011
                              Medical: Jan 14, 2011
                              Drug Screen: Jan 26, 2011
                              Cleared all Pre-Employment Checks Feb 23, 2011
                              Met with BI: March 9, 2011
                              BI Complete: April 26, 2011

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