Many interested in military service consider Military Police careers. Some choose these law enforcement military specialties because they are interested in building a career in uniform in this specific area.
Others may sign up because they want to eventually wind up working for a federal agency such as the FBI, CIA, or for private security firms. Every branch of military service has security requirements. Military police forces provide this, force protection, and much more.
Military Police Forces For Each Branch Of The Service
Some branches of service, like the United States Air Force, call their version of the Military Police career field “Security Forces.”
Others, like the U.S. Army, have a MOS description specifically for the career field known as Military Police. The U.S. Navy refers to its Law Enforcement and Security professionals as “Masters-At-Arms.”
Each branch of service has different requirements, but in general these jobs are open to enlisted candidates who have qualifying ASVAB scores and meet standards that vary depending on the branch of military service.
What Military Police Do
The Army’s job description for MOS 31B, Military Police, includes the following:
“…you’ll protect peoples’ lives and property on Army installations by enforcing military laws and regulations. You’ll also control traffic, prevent crime, and respond to all emergencies. You’ll conduct force protection, anti-terrorism, area security, and police intelligence operations. You’ll also train in corrections and detention, investigations and mobility, and security around the world.”
Compare that to the Navy’s Master-at-Arms job description:
“The Law Enforcement and Security community provides a wide range of critical services to every part of the Navy” including:
- Security and physical protection
- Training others in security and shore patrol duties
- Security advising
- Crowd control
- Riot prevention
- K9 duties
- Waterborne security patrol and interdiction operations
- Preliminary investigations into Uniform Code of Military Justice violations
- Crime prevention programs
As you can see, the descriptions of the duties may vary, but the basic job requirements are very similar.
Requirements To Become A Military Police Member
Each branch of military service has its own requirements to join a military police or security forces career field.
The basic educational requirements for joining the military as an officer or enlisted member apply. Beyond that, minimum ASVAB scores in certain areas (which vary by branch of service) will apply. For the Army the bare minimum requirements to be accepted into the 31B Military Police MOS include:
- 91 ASVAB Score: Skilled Technical (ST)
- 10 weeks of Basic Training
- 20 weeks of One Station Unit Training
- Additional on-the-job training
For the Air Force, requirements for the Security Forces career field include:
- Must be between the ages of 17 and 39
- Normal color vision
- No history of excessive alcohol use, drug use or drug- or alcohol-related incidents
- No record of sleep disorders
- No current history of ADD, ADHD or perceptual/learning disorders
- No fear of working around nuclear weapons
- No fear of heights or confined spaces
- No documented record of gang affiliations
- No history of mood or personality disorders
- No speech disorder or noticeable communication deficiency Possession of a valid state driver’s license to operate government motor vehicles
- Completion of a National Agency Check, Local Agency Checks and Credit
The Navy recruiting official site includes the following list of requirements for Law Enforcement And Security career field:
“A high-school diploma or equivalent is required to become an Enlisted Sailor in the Law Enforcement & Security field in the Navy. Those seeking a Master at Arms position should be people-oriented, dedicated, resourceful, and versatile. They should also possess physical strength, manual dexterity and competence with tools equipment. Citizenship requirements may vary.”
Some who start off as Military Police or Security Forces discover other opportunities to work in Law Enforcement while in uniform. Working in this field can lead to jobs in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI), Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and other specialized agencies within the military.
What newcomers need to know about both these and non-military law enforcement career options? Continuing education is VERY important.
Many of the so-called alphabet soup agencies in and outside the military reserve their best opportunities for those with Bachelors degrees or higher. If you entered the 31B MOS as an enlisted member and want to move on to bigger and better military police careers, getting a Bachelor’s degree in an enforcement-related area should be a big part of your future planning.
Yes, you can apply to a sheriff’s department, local police force, or private security firm without a degree. But for those who want to be upwardly mobile, a degree is crucial. Investigators, for example, must usually have more education and training. Let’s look at the job requirements for a Special Investigations Officer working for the Air Force Office of Special Investigations:
- Bachelor’s degree with specialization in criminal justice, criminology, behavioral science, social psychology, forensic psychology, political science, government, cyber/electronics operations and warfare, computer science or engineering, area/ethnic/cultural studies, public administration, business management, accounting, law or legal studies is desirable.
- Force officers (grades O-1 through O-3) with less than 12 years total active federal military service and no more than six years total commissioned service.
- Favorable interview by an AFOSI detachment commander.
- Certification by Commander of AFOSI.
This is not a complete list, but the message is clear–the higher you want to go in the career field, the more education you should plan on.
Those with no degree may apply for law enforcement jobs at the state or local level Those with degrees may also do so but have more opportunities for advancement as Sergeants, Lieutenants, etc. Appropriate degrees in law enforcement and the requirements for those degrees all depend on the nature of the job you apply for (local, state, federal, private) and the requirements of the individual agency.
The University Of Cincinnati published a list of top jobs offered to those with certain law enforcement degrees. The Criminal Justice degree is specifically referenced for these career options but there are many enforcement-related degrees to consider. Your career options once being a degreed law enforcement professional include:
- U.S. Marshal
- FBI Agent
- CIA Agent
- Private Detective
- Corporate Investigator
- Crime Laboratory Analyst
- Fish and Game Warden
- Police Officer
- Fire Investigator
- Correctional Officer
- U.S. Postal Inspector
- Computer Forensics Investigator
- Court Administrator
- Law Enforcement College Instructor
- Investigative Reporter
- Victim Advocate
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News
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