Career Paths to Explore
Crime is a serious problem in many countries around the world, but thankfully there’s an engaging career field through which you can help address it. Criminal justice is the field concerning the idea of controlling crime and social problems related to them. Most people in law enforcement or rehabilitation look to hire individuals with a degree in this field. Earning a degree in criminal justice will help individuals be better informed when working with law enforcement, among other positions. Let’s take a look at the career possibilities you have with this type of degree.
What types of jobs are available in criminal justice?
With a criminal justice degree, you have a wide variety of jobs available to you. Unlike many other majors, a criminal justice degree often opens the door for widely varying positions. While many people often join the police force after earning their degree, you can also do work as a private investigator, public safety officer, or as a park ranger. Your degree can also get you on the path of a FBI or CIA agent, but usually requires more specialization and top-notch grades. Some criminal justice jobs prepare you for a job in crime scene investigation, forensics, or other related behind-the-scenes fields. Of course, this is also a great path to consider if you’re interested in becoming a lawyer. Below are a few other career options to consider:
- Criminologist – This exciting job involves the studying of criminals and reasons they commit crimes. Additionally, the job examines the thinking patterns of criminals to best develop ways to stop crimes before they happen.
- Substance Abuse Counselor – Many individuals struggle with drugs and alcohol and this can lead to questionable decision-making, among other problems. This job helps people get back to living their lives and attempting to rid themselves of the detrimental effects of addiction.
- Witness Protection Worker – People go into witness protection for all sorts of reasons, but it’s very common to enter following testifying against someone else. This job works on ensuring individuals can lead a safe life following testifying against someone dangerous.
- Drug Enforcement Agent – Every country is tasked with addressing drug trafficking problems and this job puts individuals on the ground level to detain criminals and clean up questionable activities taking place on our streets.
- Coroner – This job requires individuals with determining the cause of death, be it drug related, natural causes, violence, or other ways. It’s a great position needed to help tie up loose ends in cases.
- Deputy Marshal It’s important to maintain a stringent protocol regarding protection of the justice system, which is why this job plays such an important role. Not only are U.S. Marshals tasked with protecting judges, attorneys, and jurors, but they also work in tracking down fugitives on the run, protecting witnesses, and collection of assets.
Below is a map from The Bureau of Labor Statistics with employment statistics for probation officers and correction treatment specialists by area in May of 2013 to give you an idea where the majority of the these positions are located, if you’re interested in these opportunities:
What type of degree do I need?
The type of job you wish to pursue will likely determine the level of education you need to pursue. You can enter the field with an associate degree, but some positions require a master’s or even a PhD to qualify for employment. However, opportunities can be increased should you decide to pursue further academic work in a master’s degree or a doctorate. With a higher degree come more professional opportunities. Additionally, while pursuing a criminal justice degree, it’s very useful to specialize in an area that you feel most passionate about, as this will separate you from the large number of job candidates. Some specializations include:
- Criminal investigation
- Crime scene investigation
- Security management
How to get the job I want?
Some of the best tips for landing a good job involve engaging in extracurricular activities, which is possible even if you get your degree online. Assist professors with work such as lab prep and consultations and, if possible, do internships with police and other investigative firms. This will give you experience and a leg up for when you officially join the workforce with your degree.
Online programs allow you to continue working while pursuing your degree. You can schedule your classes around work and other responsibilities. The added flexibility will help you when it comes to finding a job, as you’ll have had the opportunity to enhance your resume with professional experience. Perhaps you can find employment at your local police station, juvenile detention center, or in the court system so you can gain experience working in the criminal justice field.
It’s also a good idea to make as many connections as possible with individuals currently working or teaching in the field. You can accomplish this by joining professional associations, such as the American Criminal Justice Association or the National Criminal Justice Association. These associations offer events that allow you to meet others with similar career interests. By networking and making connections, you’ll increase your chances of meeting someone who can help you with your job search or even offer you a position if the position fits your background and experience level.
Degrees in Criminal Justice
Criminal justice degrees are very versatile and can open new career opportunities in a variety of related fields. It is important to note that curriculum can vary greatly from school to school. It is essential, therefore, to find out as much as possible about each program before applying. Considerations when choosing a degree include:
- Degree program length and options (online or campus)
- Subject focus of the program such as forensics, criminal justice, homeland security, etc.
- Job opportunities and career outlook after graduation
For your convenience, accredited schools offering criminal justice degres are listed below: