Narcotics officers are law enforcement officials who investigate and apprehend individuals suspected of narcotics-related crimes such as drug trafficking and drug possession. These officers are employed by state and federal law enforcement agencies including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Marshals.
Narcotics officers typically start their careers as police officers. After gaining experience on the job, within a few years officers can test for special assignments such as promotion to the narcotics division. Though educational requirements vary by agency, applicants are typically required to have an associate or bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field.
In addition to maintaining work-related skills such as handling firearms, self defense, physical fitness and controlling stress levels, narcotics officers are required to possess character traits such as integrity, honesty, tact and professionalism.
Narcotics officers work to enforce state, local and federal narcotics laws. Resources and techniques used in investigating narcotics-related crimes may include wire taps, video surveillance, informants, K-9 units and working undercover.
Working hours vary for narcotics officers and may require spending days and nights away from home. The nature of work is extremely dangerous, with some narcotics officers working undercover during job operations in which they interact and maintain close proximity to suspected individuals in order to obtain necessary evidence.
Law enforcement careers offer continued training and many opportunities for advancement in the field. Narcotics officers may move on to positions as detectives, investigators, special tasks or as an agent for a federal agency. Additionally, law enforcement officers generally earn a good salary with benefits, with an average annual salary of $54,000 depending on agency and location, according to Indeed.com as of July 2010.
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