The field of public safety is not one that many people think of on a day-to-day basis, which is probably a sign that they are living in a country with effective systems and security protocols. The public safety sector is a complex one that offers a wide range of paths and specialist areas, providing people with fast-paced and interesting careers. There is always more to learn and new challenges to overcome. The public safety sector is typically independent of the government but operates alongside the government to improve and expand a country’s national security and intelligence.
Professionals in the public safety sector work hard to ensure the safety and security of the public. Depending on their role, this can be a dangerous career, but it can also provide a great sense of professional and personal satisfaction. This might include working for the fire department, paramedics, the police force, cybersecurity, immigration, customs, and drug enforcement.
If you are currently working in public safety but want to further your career, here are five ways to move to the next level.
1. Continue your education
To advance your career in public safety, you might want to consider completing a degree in a related field. Whether you study for a bachelor’s or master’s degree in public safety or something more specific like border security programs, you will acquire theoretical knowledge and practical skills that will take your career to the next level. These degrees require a high level of commitment and determination, but it is possible to study online. Online degree programs enable you to study in your free time while you continue to work, simultaneously earning money and gaining real-life experience. A genuine passion for your career in public safety will make it much easier to complete your studies to a high level.
2. Choose a specialist career path
There are plenty of career paths in the public safety sector that are simultaneously challenging and rewarding, but they can demand a lot of a person. To succeed in public safety, you need to be entirely committed to the protection of the citizens in your country. While no career should be all-consuming, having only a fleeting interest in public safety is unlikely to give you the passion you will need to reach the upper levels of the sector. Rather than spending time in general safety or security roles, consider focusing your efforts on a more specialist path with a clear trajectory.
For example, public safety can include working to reduce crime, prevent terrorist attacks, and other severe threats to public security. However, it can also involve working to regulate, streamline and improve society for the public in ways that will benefit them every day. In recent years, since the COVID-19 pandemic, this has become even more important as the public are adapting to a new living and working environment. Occupational health and safety have never been more important than it is today, and it is likely this trend will continue.
3. Work on key public safety skills
A public safety professional needs to have a strong sense of ethics, moral judgment, and a clear understanding of their legal obligations. The world is only becoming more complex, especially with the rise in cybersecurity threats, so it is vital that you continue to improve and diversify your skill set during your career. There are four key areas of public safety that professionals should consider in their development which are:
- National security
- Border control
- Preventing and tackling crime
- Responding to national emergencies
Managing an emergency might involve communicating and liaising with multiple emergency service providers, training others, and putting protocols in place to prevent problems from arising.
Public events can be a potential source of risk and danger, which is why public safety professionals should be skilled in their organization and in providing customer service. This includes the delivery of customer service and organizing events under normal circumstances, as well as adapting to deal with events during a stressful event or disaster.
The most basic qualification for a public safety professional is First Aid training (including CPR) to ensure that they are able to respond to medical emergencies as they arise. The ability to resolve conflict, whether the conflict is physical or verbal, on an individual basis or diffusing bigger incidents.
In recent years, COVID-19 has become a key focus for the public safety sector, so it is imperative that you take any opportunity you can to complete additional training in COVID-19 management.
4. Set yourself professional goals
To succeed in any career, it is important to set yourself professional goals and to consider your ultimate ambition. For example, one of the most highly respected and important roles in public safety is a chief security officer. A chief security officer operates at the most senior level of an organization to ensure the safety of the staff and any members of the public that interact with the organization. It is a wide-reaching role that encompasses many aspects of security, from cybersecurity to ensuring the physical security of the premises and health and safety.
Chief security officers are found in a wide range of industries in many organizations, and, in most cases, reaching this level of seniority gives you plenty of transferable skills. These skills can then be put to use in just about any industry or company you choose. Of course, there are other senior public safety roles to consider in prisons, law enforcement, emergency services, and health and safety executives.
5. Make public safety a part of your life
Building a career in public safety requires passion and commitment to the sector, and this might mean that it spills over into your personal life. The skills and experience that you gain in your career may be required in other areas of your life when you see an opportunity to improve the safety or security of a situation. You need to be able to put the safety of your fellow human beings above all else regardless of their background or the demographic they fall into. The Harvard Business Review has some tips on maintaining a work-life balance.