Transit and railroad police specialize in protecting railroad and transit property, passengers and employees. They are often employed by private or government organizations, and use their specialized education and training to provide for safe and lawful transportation. The first step on the path to a transit and railroad police career can be enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice.
According to national data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2011, employment for the category that includes transit and railroad police is projected to grow as fast as the average occupation through 2018. A growing job rate may not guarantee employment in the industry. Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research regarding actual job growth rates, which vary according to location, education, experience, local trends, and requirements.
Job duties for transit and railroad police can vary, according to employer and location. Key responsibilities for these certified law enforcement officers include promoting safety and ensuring compliance with established laws on railroad property or throughout public transit lines, including subways, buses and monorails.
Transit and railroad police often patrol railroad yards, cars, stations and other facilities to combat trespassing, theft and violence, and to protect the public. They are typically responsible for verifying the credentials of persons entering secured areas, and removing trespassers from railroad and transit property.
These law enforcement professionals may analyze statistical data to discover crime trends, and use the results to help prevent future crime. Railroad and transit police investigate freight theft, damage, and loss of property, and often participate with other police agencies to investigate crimes committed on railroad or public transit property.
During derailments, accidents, fires or other disasters, transit and railroad police are usually in charge of directing security activities. Additional job duties include planning and implementing safety and crime prevention programs, coordinating daily activities of security staff and training new staff.
Some transit and railroad police may specialize in canine handling. Officers working on K-9 teams support police teams by patrolling to deter crime, conducting searches, discouraging trespassers and detecting explosives.
Transit and railroad police work varying schedules; they may work indoors or outside, in all types of weather. Depending on the employer, travel could be required. A 40-hour week is standard, but overtime may be required. Weekend, evening and holiday hours are also typical in this field.
According to a 2010 national survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, the average annual salary for transit and railroad police was $55,930, while the middle 50% earned between $43,830 and $67,460. The lowest 10% earned approximately $36,550, while those in the highest 10% bracket brought in around $80,500 per year. Because salary potential may vary depending on location, education and experience, prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research to determine actual earning potential.
Transit and railroad police work typically requires specialized skills and education, but requirements vary according to employer. Many require candidates to hold college degrees and undergo police academy training. A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field, plus law enforcement experience, may be preferred by certain agencies. This experience may be obtained through summer employment or internships while pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Many railroad and transit agencies require a qualifying test of all candidates.
Working toward a transit and railroad police career may begin by enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice. Coursework typically includes law enforcement systems, police organizations and administration, criminal justice ethics and introduction to criminal justice.
Employers can be confident that individuals who have earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice are able to:
Some employers offer opportunities for continuing education. It may be possible to gain an entry-level position with a bachelor’s degree and use a tuition assistance program to further your education.
If you aspire to a transit and railroad police career, you’ll need a special set of skills and knowledge. Excellent written and verbal communication skills, complex problem solving, and excellent decision-making skills will be important in this career. Social perceptiveness and sharp awareness, along with integrity and good judgment are additional necessary attributes. Augmenting your skill set with the knowledge gained in a bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice can be a great start to your transit and railroad police career.