Are you thinking about a career in public safety? Or maybe you’re already a public safety professional who wants to take your career to the next level. Acquiring an advanced education is key to your long-term success, but it also requires an investment of your time and effort. Before you jump in, it’s important to consider where you want your public safety career to go and how you can best get there.
Online public safety degrees and graduate diplomas are the right choice for many people for career development. You can advance your education on your own time, even if you already work a demanding job, thanks to flexible scheduling and 24/7 classrooms. And because of the wide variety of online public safety degrees now available, it’s easier than ever to find an educational option that fits your career interests and maximizes your future potential.
Combine these benefits with the affordability that online public safety degrees offer, and you can see why this may be one of the best ways you can further your career.
What Are the Leading Public Safety Career Fields?
Within public safety, there are many career pathways to choose from. Police officers, firefighters, park rangers, border patrol agents, and airport security officers are just a few of the many options.
While many entry-level positions in public safety do not require advanced degrees or diplomas, having that extra education makes you more attractive to employers and can help you earn a higher salary. The further you want to advance beyond those entry-level positions, the more important your education will become. Online public safety degrees can help expand your career options and opportunities for growth.
By earning online public safety degrees, many public safety professionals have positioned themselves for roles such as police chief, emergency management director, or intelligence analyst. And they’ve been able to earn their online public safety degrees while continuing to work.
A wide range of employers in Canada are hiring people for public safety positions. The largest is Public Safety Canada, which has more than 66,000 employees across the country. Public Safety Canada’s partner agencies are the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Correctional Service of Canada, the Parole Board of Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Online public safety degrees and graduate diplomas can be very useful to professionals who want to work for Public Safety Canada. Degrees like Wilfrid Laurier University’s online Master of Public Safety program and its five graduate diplomas are designed in alignment with the pillars of Public Safety Canada.
There are also many others organizations hiring in public safety fields, such as:
- Local and provincial governments
- Airlines and airports
- Canadian military
Let’s look at the leading public safety fields and which online public safety degrees are the best choices for each field.
Policing and Law Enforcement
Police officers are the public face of public safety. Working shifts around the clock to keep people safe, police officers are the first on the scene when a crime occurs, and they’re often the last ones to leave. They are also involved at a grassroots level with the communities they serve, developing relationships with people of all backgrounds and making themselves available to those in need of assistance. Here are some quick facts about police jobs in Canada:
- Canada has more than 68,000 police officers.
- Police work for more than 170 municipalities, three provincial police services and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
- Police budgets totalled $15.1 billion in 2017–18.
- Police in Canada earn from $41,000 to $102,000 annually, with a median salary of almost $81,000.
- The job outlook for police officers varies across the country’s provinces and territories. The number of jobs should increase in 10 areas and remain stable in the other three.
- Job titles include police officer, constable, corporal, sergeant, staff sergeant, inspector, superintendent, deputy chief, and chief.
Serving as a police officer requires attention to detail, good communication skills, and physical endurance. Police officers must also be able to think quickly and make good decisions under pressure.
If you want to advance your career in law enforcement, one online public safety degree option is the Combined Honours Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Policing from Laurier. This program will develop your abilities to:
- Answer questions about why a crime occurred.
- Grasp issues of youth justice, addiction, and crimes against humanity.
- Improve your research and communication skills.
- These skills will help you stand out during the hiring process and give you the confidence to do the job when you’re hired.
Corrections and Re-Entry
Corrections and re-entry personnel operate the country's detention facilities and monitor individuals on supervised release. Entry-level positions may not require an advanced degree, but professionals with higher education are well positioned to earn promotions and raises.
Some corrections and re-entry personnel run programs inside jails and prisons dealing with education, addiction, and mental health. Others maintain contact with those on parole or probation to make sure they are meeting the terms of their release and have the services they need to successfully reintegrate into society.
Here are some quick facts about corrections and re-entry jobs in Canada:
- Correctional Service Canada (CSC), an agency within Public Safety Canada, employs more than 18,000 people. Each province also runs dozens of jails and centres where offenders are held.
- CSC staffs 43 institutions, 14 community correctional centres and 92 parole offices.
- CSC manages about 14,000 incarcerated people and keeps track of another 9,000 who are under supervision outside of correctional facilities.
- Provincial jails hold more than 24,000 inmates who have been charged with crimes or are serving sentences less than two years in length. They also keep track of more than 90,000 individuals on supervised release.
- The job outlook for corrections officers varies depending on the province. Jobs are expected to be added in six areas and remain stable in three.
- Corrections officers make between $46,000 and $84,000 annually, with a median salary of about $68,000.
- Job titles include correctional officer, juvenile correction officer, correctional program officer, parole officer, aboriginal liaison officer and probation officer.
Online public safety degrees can provide the skills and knowledge you need to advance in this field. A program like Laurier’s Honours Bachelor of Arts in Policing degree provides detailed training on topics relevant to this work. Topics covered include diversity, mental health, addiction, and how to prevent crime.
Emergency Response and Management
When disasters strike, emergency responders are the first ones there to help. They save lives, limit the damage, and help whole communities recover after the unthinkable happens. Disasters handled by emergency management personnel include floods, wildfires, severe storms, public health crises, and terror attacks.
Emergency management personnel use their highly developed communication and organizational skills to make disaster response more effective. They collaborate with other public safety workers, integrating various roles for a comprehensive response. Professionals in this field plan ahead with preparations before a disaster happens, as well as responding on the scene of an emergency.
Online public safety degrees can help you develop the specific skills needed to work in emergency management. Here are some quick facts about emergency response and management in Canada:
- Each province has its own emergency management agency, which works in coordination with local responders and Public Safety Canada on four components: prevention and mitigation; preparedness; response; and recovery.
- Public Safety Canada operates the country’s Government Operations Centre, which provides 24/7 monitoring, planning, support, and situational awareness.
- The job outlook for emergency management is strong in six provinces and territories, stable or growing in three and undetermined in some. Available jobs are expected to increase in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec and New Brunswick.
- Job titles include emergency management director, deputy director, analyst, specialist, firefighter, deputy fire chief, fire chief and public safety educator.
- Emergency management specialists typically make between $53,000 and $115,000 a year, with a median salary of $76,000,
- The job outlook for firefighters depends on the province. Jobs are expected to be added in New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
- Firefighters typically make between $42,000 and $102,000 a year, with a median salary of $69,000.
Careers in emergency response and management require competency in public communication and a passion for helping others. Successful professionals in this field also need strong analytical skills and the ability to think quickly on their feet.
Online public safety degrees like Laurier’s Graduate Diploma in Emergency Management help you gain the knowledge and skills needed to shine in this unique field. Laurier’s program includes courses on interagency disaster management, emergency management planning, and public safety in Canada.
Most people don’t worry much in daily life about terror attacks, organized crime, or the security of our roads or power systems. That’s thanks to a wide variety of public safety professionals who are working behind the scenes to protect us.
National security personnel are focused on keeping Canada safe. They identify threats to the country and its residents, and they take action to prevent crime before it happens. They also need to be well-versed in different cultures and global politics, as well as human behavior and psychology. In order to succeed in this challenging field, many experts have earned advanced degrees, including online public safety degrees.
Here are some quick facts about national security positions:
- The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) investigates all threats to national security.
- CSIS had a budget of $586.6 million in 2018–19, of which around $375 million went to salaries.
- Working hard to recruit, CSIS held more than 100 events to draw new workers in 2019 alone.
- To work for CSIS, you must be a Canadian citizen, complete a competency-based interview and go through a psychological assessment, among other requirements.
- Job titles include airport security officer, behaviour profiler, intelligence analyst, data analyst, facility officer, project manager, security screening investigator and foreign language communications analyst.
Professionals working in national security dedicate their careers to helping their country. They pay close attention to details and think through complex options and risks. Online public safety degrees equip graduates for the challenging demands in this field.
One option is Laurier’s Master of Public Safety degree program, which prepares you for advanced jobs in public safety. Laurier also offers public safety graduate diplomas focused on Countering Crime, National Security, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Data Analytics. These diplomas help you rise to the challenge of keeping your country safe.
Border security goes hand-in-hand with national security, but comes with its own distinct set of demands and challenges. Border security personnel help prevent dangerous individuals and illegal substances from entering the country. They also assist many people who are crossing the border legally, strengthening the country’s economy.
Many public safety professionals working in this field are employed by the Canadian Border Services Agency. The CBSA protects national security and public safety by controlling the flow of people and goods into and out of the country. The CBSA aims to keep the country’s borders “open to travel and trade but closed to crime.”
Here are some quick facts about careers on the border:
- CBSA staffs more than 1,100 points of service, including highway border crossings, airports, rail stations, postal buildings and marine ports.
- Trainees for CBSA make starting salaries of $64,234 to $71,525. Trainees who complete their training and become border services officers start out earning $69,486 to $82,411.
- Job titles include customs officer, immigration officer, detector dog handler and border intelligence officer.
To work in border security, you need good judgment. You should also be decisive, and according to CBSA, have “strong information-seeking skills.”
Online public safety degrees like the Graduate Diploma in Border Strategies from Laurier can help you gain the knowledge and skills you need. This diploma program teaches advanced investigative skills and gives you a strong grasp of government systems and infrastructure inside Canada.
Online Public Safety Degrees: Which Is Right for Me?
Laurier’s online public safety degrees can help you enter or advance in any of these leading public safety fields. Each program provides a unique set of classes designed to give you the knowledge you need for your chosen career.
Bachelor’s Degrees in Policing
Laurier offers two bachelor’s degrees that can further your law enforcement career. The Combined Honours Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Policing and the Honours Bachelor of Arts in Policing both require 20 credits. Up to 10 credits are transferable.
The courses can be taken at your own pace, up to three per term. Either degree can be earned in three to four years. Access to your online classrooms 24/7 makes it doable to fit your coursework around a busy schedule.
Combined Honours Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Policing
Online public safety degrees like Laurier’s Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and Policing do not require you to have any prior law enforcement experience. You will develop research skills and learn to delve into questions about how crime develops.
People who have earned this kind of degree have gone on to hold jobs like crime scene analyst, corrections officer, customs officer, and probation officer. Courses include:
- Introduction to Criminology
- Intercultural Communication in Policing
- Media, Social Media, and Crime
Honours Bachelor of Arts in Policing
The Bachelor of Arts in Policing degree is unique among online public safety degrees. It is designed by police officers and you must be a current police officer with at least one year of experience to enroll.
This degree can lead to careers such as detective, police chief, consultant, and inspector. It grows the skills you need to become a leader—skills like information security risk assessment, asset protection, intrusion detection, and human intelligence. Courses include:
- Police Psychology
- Leadership and Career Development in Law Enforcement
- Ethics, Corruption, and Police Accountability
Public Safety Graduate Diplomas
Laurier’s public safety graduate diplomas are focused on five areas:
Each diploma consists of four courses—two that are common to all diplomas and two that dive deeply into the particular program’s focus. You can earn one of these diplomas in as little as 18 months. Credits earned in the diploma programs can also count toward the completion of an online public safety degree.
One credit (two courses) from the GIS and Data Analytics diploma can be transferred toward your completion of Laurier’s Master of Public Safety (MPS) degree. Two credits (four classes) from the Border Strategies, Countering Crime, Emergency Management, and National Security diplomas can be transferred toward the MPS degree.
The courses common to all diplomas will deepen your understanding of the past, present, and future of public safety and sharpen your critical thinking skills on public safety issues. Here are the courses unique to each specialized area:
- Border Strategies: Beyond the Border; Immigration and Border Security
- Countering Crime: Intelligence and Evidence-Based Decision Making; Diverse Communities
- Emergency Management: Interagency Disaster Management; Emergency Management Planning
- GIS and Data Analytics: GIS and Data Analytics; GIS, Crime Mapping and Risk Terrain Modeling (RTM)
- National Security: International Rule of Law; International Crime and Terrorism
Laurier’s Online Master of Public Safety Degree
You won’t find options like Laurier’s Master of Public Safety (MPS) degree and the public safety diplomas anywhere else. They are the first and only programs created in alignment with the pillars of Public Safety Canada. Online public safety degrees like Laurier’s MPS help you gain a thorough grasp of public safety in Canada.
Laurier’s MPS also allows you to choose from four focus areas: Border Strategies, Countering Crime, Emergency Management, or National Security. The MPS is a four-credit (eight-course) program, and each course is 13 weeks long. Online public safety degrees like this one can be completed in less than three years. Courses in the MPS program include:
- Public Safety Administration
- Intelligence and Analytics in Public Safety
- Leadership and Ethics in Public Safety
- Research Methods and Statistical Analysis in Public Safety
Advanced online public safety degrees prepare you for high-ranking, well-paid public safety positions across the country. The work you complete will prepare you to deal with the most common issues that arise in public safety. You will also learn to assess and improve organizational performance and to solve problems using critical thinking.
Advancing Your Career with Online Public Safety Degrees
Whatever public safety career interests you most, advanced education can equip you with the knowledge and skills you need. Laurier’s online public safety degrees and graduate diplomas are affordable and designed to fit your busy schedule. With many start dates each year, you don’t have to wait to get started, and you can finish in as little as 18 months.
Are you ready to take the next step in a public safety career? Explore your pathway here.