The public safety sector is a vast field which encompasses a range of disciplines. With the overarching objective of protecting the wellbeing of citizens and society as a whole, public safety protocols are critical to maintaining a secure environment.
Although government departments and local organisations are usually ultimately responsible for public safety, facilitating a safe society requires input from a range of professionals. This means that there are a wide variety of careers that fall under the umbrella of ‘public safety’.
Before looking more closely at what it takes to build a successful career in the public safety sector, take a look at some of the job roles that fall under the scope of public safety and discover how you can use your skills to protect the people around you, your community and the environment:
1. Police Officer
When you think of public safety, the police are often the first organisation you think of. As well as responding to emergency calls and active threats to people’s safety, the police are also tasked with maintaining law and order, securing large scale events and reducing crime rates.
As you might imagine, it takes a large workforce to facilitate such services. Currently, there are around 70,000 police constables working in Canada, although a further 31,000 full-time, non-serving personnel also work for the police.
If you’re interested in a career as a police constable, you can apply directly to your chosen department. With more than 140 police departments, 36 First Nation self-administered services, three provincial police services and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Force (RCMP) providing municipal, provincial and federal policing, there are plenty of options to consider.
Entry requirements vary from one department to another but, in most cases, you’ll undertake a rigorous training programme over a period of months before you can begin working as a serving police constable. After gaining experience as an officer, you’ll have the opportunity to progress your career by applying for leadership roles, such as Sergeant, Detective Constable or Inspector.
Working as a police constable ensures you’ll undertake a variety of different tasks. However, everything you do will be geared towards maintaining public safety. While the role can undoubtedly be challenging, protecting your community and its residents provides an enormous amount of job satisfaction.
2. Emergency Management
Sometimes referred to as disaster management, this area of public safety is concerned with both natural and manmade threats. From earthquakes and tornadoes to terrorism and industrial disasters, there are a variety of emergency situations which need to be prepared for and mitigated.
A career in emergency management may begin with a role as an officer, before being promoted to the role of emergency management specialist or manager. Following this, you may decide to take on additional responsibilities and become an emergency management director.
As you can imagine, there are numerous potential emergencies which need to be risk assessed. Using detailed analysis and modelling, you’ll be responsible for identifying threats and grading their potential impact.
A significant element of the role is ensuring organisations and departments are able to respond to emergencies effectively. By determining the impact of viable threats, you’ll create workable plans, procedures and polices to facilitate an appropriate response. As an emergency management professional, you’ll work closely with other departments and organisations, such as town and city planners, police forces, medical providers and fire services.
Working in emergency management requires a high level of attention to detail and organisation. If you’re an analytical thinker with a passion for problem solving, this could be the ideal opportunity for you to build a public safety career.
3. Chief Security Officer
Although many public safety professionals are employed by government agencies and departments, private companies also employ public safety specialists too. Today’s businesses are required to implement effective security measures to keep their employees, customers, clients and the general public safe. In addition to this, companies are also required to enact successful cybersecurity strategies to protect financial information and confidential data.
To meet these objectives, companies routinely hire public safety professionals, such as cybersecurity analysts, logistical planners and chief security officers (CSOs). Becoming a CSO can take time, so it’s likely you’ll spend time developing your skills and gaining experience before you’re promoted to this level. Once you’re suitably qualified to operate as a Chief Security Officer, however, you’ll play a critical role in ensuring safety and improving security.
As such, you’ll be responsible for creating effective security policies, rolling out training plans to ensure staff are equipped to enforce these protocols, confirming compliance with relevant laws and regulations, implementing security strategies and monitoring outcomes. With the potential to specialise in any industry or to work across a variety of sectors, the increased need for enhanced security in the private sector means there are likely to be more job opportunities for Chief Security Offices in the future.
Both paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) respond to urgent medical situations, provide life-saving treatment and transport patients to medical facilities, amongst other duties. Their role is essential to society and one of the most well-known public safety jobs.
To qualify as a paramedic, you’ll need to undertake specific training, although the exact specifications vary from one province to another. Following this, you’ll need to pass the relevant examination in order to obtain certification and begin working.
Most paramedics in Canada begin working as a primary care paramedic (PCP) following their initial training and certification. However, further study and additional experience can enable you to progress your career and become an advanced care paramedic (ACP) or a critical care paramedic (CCP).
If you work well under pressure, are committed to delivering enhanced healthcare services and are looking for a role that offers something different every day, training as a paramedic could provide the challenging working environment you’re after.
If you’re committed to working in this area of public safety but you’re not sure if a role as a paramedic or EMT is right for you, there are other career options to consider. Working for the emergency medical services as a call handler or dispatcher, gives you the opportunity to work in the sector without delivering direct medical care to patients, for example. Alternatively, training as an administrator or healthcare IT specialists gives you the opportunity to become part of the public safety sector without being on the front line.
Building A Public Safety Career
Now that you’ve got an idea of some of the jobs that are available within the public safety sector, you’ll be eager to know how you can begin building your career. Although many public safety roles provide training, you can enhance your knowledge and employability by completing a bachelor’s degree first. If you want to know which degrees are best suited to your career goals, take a look at this blog post.
Having a public safety degree can set you apart from other candidates when you’re applying for a place on a training course or interviewing for sought after roles. In addition to this, there are instances in which having a public safety degree will enable you to go straight into a more senior role, without the need to start in an entry-level position.
As well as developing your knowledge and abilities via higher education, you can prepare for a career in public safety by honing the skills you’ll need to succeed in the industry. Learning to work well under pressure, being adaptable and being able to solve problems are all traits which are highly valued in the public safety profession, so you can get a head-start by nurturing these skills now.
Similarly, responsiveness, resilience and organisation are characteristics that will stand you in good stead as a public safety professional. By identifying the skills and attributes needed within your chosen field, you can work on enhancing your employability now.
Gaining Public Safety Experience
It can be tricky to gain formal public safety experience if you’re not qualified or certified yet. However, some public safety departments and organisations do have formal work experience programmes or internships. These can be a great way to learn more about what a public safety role entails and will give you real-life experience of the challenges you’ll be faced with.
As well as applying for formal work experience schemes, you can also gain public safety experience by undertaking optional courses and/or volunteering your time and skills. Acting as a marshal at community events or being a first aider helps you to develop important skills that will be relevant to your future career, for example, as well as giving you a glimpse of what working in the public safety sector can be like.
By getting as much experience as possible, formalising your abilities through certifications and courses, and expanding your skillset, you’ll be well-placed to begin your career. When you combine this with formal learning, such as an undergraduate degree, postgrad diploma or work-based training, you’ll have the knowledge, skills and confidence you need to build a successful career in the public safety sector.