Home Career Career Considerations: Don’t Overlook Federal Law Enforcement

Career Considerations: Don’t Overlook Federal Law Enforcement


By Dr. Vincent Giordano, program director, criminal justice at American Public University

Today’s criminal justice students should consider careers in federal law enforcement. Since 9/11, federal law enforcement has increased its footprint in the United States and throughout the world and continues to grow. Here is a look at these agencies and their role in law enforcement.

Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the newest federal law enforcement agency in the United States, founded as a direct result of the Sept. 11th attacks. Under the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the DHS became an umbrella organization and took on several departments formerly under the responsibility of other agencies. For example, the U.S. Custom Service transferred from the Treasury Department and the Immigration & Naturalization Service transferred from the Justice Department. Furthermore, the Secret Service and U.S. Coast Guard are also covered under the DHS umbrella.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was created July 1, 1973, by President Richard Nixon. It was created by merging the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), with the Office of Drug Enforcement Law Enforcement (ODELE). The DEA is responsible for enforcing federal drug laws under the policy commonly known as the War on Drugs. In addition to domestic enforcement, the DEA also participates in international operations.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
The FBI was created as the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) in 1908. The primary job of the early BOI was to enforce the Mann Act, which outlawed human trafficking especially for prostitution, and to keep track of anarchists. In 1932, the BOI was renamed the FBI.

From 1924-1972, the FBI knew only one director: J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover changed FBI procedures to include science during investigations and created the famous 10 Most Wanted list. Present FBI law enforcement responsibilities include counterterrorism, protecting the civil rights of citizens, combating organized crime, and fighting white-collar crime. In order to become an agent, an applicant must 24-37 years old, unless he or she was in the military during that time frame. Additionally, all applicants must complete several physical and educational components before becoming an agent.

Individuals working in the field are involved in many different aspects of law enforcement from protecting the homeland to investigating white collar crime. The Federal Jobs Network states that there are more than 180,000 federally employed individuals working in the field of law enforcement earning an average salary of $50,000.

About the Author: Dr. Vinnie Giordano Ph.D. obtained a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Long Island University/ C.W. Post in Liberal Arts with a specialization in political science, his Masters of Science degree from Florida Metropolitan University in Criminal Justice, and another Masters of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Giordano also obtained his Ph.D. in Human Services with a specialization in Criminal Justice from Capella University. Before coming to APUS as a full time employee Dr. Giordano had worked in the field of substance abuse/ behavioral health for 13 years where he worked as a substance abuse counselor in a Department of Corrections funded youthful offender program, a counselor and supervisor for a 28-day residential and aftercare program, and as the Administrator of Juvenile Services at the Pinellas Juvenile Assessment Center. Currently, Dr. Giordano serves as the Program Director of the Criminal Justice Department which is under the School of Public Service and Health.


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