Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security


When there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who are you going to call? Typically, someone from this career cluster will respond to your request for help. These workers protect us from crime and other sources of harm like natural disasters. They help us receive fair treatment and seek justice when we’ve been wronged. Some workers also set up and implement security plans.

If you pay attention to the evening news or watch television dramas, you’re aware of the most obvious occupations in this industry: police officers, firefighters, and lawyers. Less obvious jobs in this cluster include lifeguards and ski patrol workers and animal control workers. Occupations with large projected 10-year increases in openings include lawyers and emergency medical technicians.

Work environments and educational backgrounds differ in these occupations. Although some workers stay in offices most of the day, others work outdoors. For certain jobs, workers must pass medical exams and demonstrate strength and agility. Some careers may be dangerous and require shift work, sometimes with long hours. Many of these jobs can be found at all levels of government, in law offices, and security businesses.

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Core Skills

The following Core Skills are necessary for success in these occupations.

  • Negotiation - Bringing people together to solve differences
  • Persuasion - Talking people into changing their minds or their behavior
  • Social Perceptiveness - Understanding people's reactions
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
  • Speaking - Talking to others
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem
  • Writing - Writing things for co-workers or customers
  • Judgment & Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one
  • Service Orientation - Looking for ways to help people
  • Coordination - Changing what is done based on other people's actions


Career Pathways



Career Story

Eric Southerland

James Sprunt Community College

A.A.S., Criminal Justice

Earning one credential at James Sprunt allowed Eric to work for over 20 years, having a successful career doing what he loves most.

Ever since high school, Eric Southerland knew that he wanted to go into law enforcement.

“It was my first choice in a survey for career paths,” said Eric.

While attending James Kenan High School, Southerland was fortunate enough to be selected as one of the founding members of the Duplin County Explorers with the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office, a program designed just for high school students.

“Sheriff Garner reached out and started the Explorers program for those interested in law enforcement. That program is still in existence today. It helped me experience what it would be like to work in the Sheriff’s Office.”

This introduction to the Sheriff’s Office led Southerland to obtain his BLET (Basic Law Enforcement Training) certificate at James Sprunt Community College. Earning that credential at James Sprunt enabled him to work for over 20 years for the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office, having a successful career doing what he loves most.

Fast forward to today, and you’ll find Southerland still working as an officer of the law, except now he is working full-time as the Police Chief of the Warsaw Police Department while also serving as the Director of the Basic Law Enforcement Training program at James Sprunt Community College.

On his job as a BLET director, Southerland says, “I love being able to train new recruits to become a good, positive influence in the community. It was a great opportunity and I have discovered that I enjoy teaching and training new recruits about what it takes to become a police officer – and most importantly, a good officer.”

In addition to earning his BLET certification, Southerland has also earned an Associate in Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice from James Sprunt Community College, a degree that isn’t required for his job as an officer, but a personal goal that he had always wanted to obtain.

Go to Career Cluster Matrix to find occupations by cluster and interest type.