Do you have what it takes to study Criminal Justice?

Criminal Justice Careers

Depending on your field of study, there are many career options in Criminal Justice.
Depending on your field of study, there are many career options in Criminal Justice.

With Law & Order and CSI programs still dominating our televisions, it's no wonder that everyone you talked to suddenly became interested in Forensics and Criminal Justice. Unfortunately for most people, they have no idea what it really means to study and find employment in the field of Criminal Justice. A diverse field that encompasses stressful jobs such as Private Investigators, Police Officers, and Correctional Officers, Criminal Justice degrees open many doors as a public servant.

A degree in Criminal Justice is not for the faint of heart, and it isn't a degree that you might stumble into like general studies. It is, quite simply, the study of crime. Focusing specifically on patterns, trends, and the ability of society to control criminals, a Criminal Justice degree attempts to give individuals the knowledge to make a contribution to society. Combining elements of Psychology, Science, and Sociology, a degree in this field requires someone to be quick on their feet, and an innovative thinker.

To work in this field, you need a passion for helping others.  Depending on your field of study, there are many career options: 

  • Police Officer: You see them everywhere, and the job description can include anything from walking the mall parking lot patrolling for car thieves to high-speed car chases.  The job can be dangerous and stressful, and requires stamina as well as a keen intellect. 
  • Police Detectives: Once a crime has been committed, detectives step in and analyze the crime scene or the evidence.  It is the job of the detective to put the pieces together and solve the case on hand.  Undercover detectives are those individuals who disguise themselves for the purpose of infiltrating a criminal situation or gaining information.
  • Private Detective: Not unlike a police detective, a private detective solves crime through analysis and observation.  Most private detectives are employed through private individuals or companies who wish to find out information. 
  • Forensics: There was a massive surge in the field of forensics when the television program Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) became popular.  Forensic specialists analyze tiny details of crime scenes, including blood, bodily fluids, and hair in order to assist investigators with making a solid case against the suspect. 
  • Social Worker: Coupled with a Psychology background, social workers have a variety of specialties including the care and placement of children in need.
  • Government Agent: Highly trained agents who ensure security for Government officials or special locations. 
  • Security Agents: Although you are more likely to see security agents at the local mall or bank, high profile people require basic security on a daily basis.
  • Criminal Lawyer: Using a Criminal Justice degree, as a springboard for law school is commonplace.  A criminal lawyer defends or prosecutes criminals, therefore
  • Customs Agencies: If you’ve ever crossed the border into another country, you’ll have been stopped by the border patrol.  Although there is an additional course that must be taken specifically for customs officers, having a background in criminal justice is a benefit to such a job.

Law Enforcement Training Class
Law Enforcement Training Class

College Requirements for a Criminal Justice Degree

In order to gain entry to a Criminal Justice degree program, you may have to take a year or two of basic undergraduate studies prior to applying.  The program is highly competitive, and there may be additional requirements for entry.  The four-year degree program is offered at major Universities as a specialization choice.  During your studies you will receive broad educational training, as well as be offered a practicum in the area of your choice.  Many programs also offer an honors specialization.  

The need for Criminal Justice graduates has never been higher.   A large number of the current police force is part of the aging baby boomer population and will be retiring within the next 10 years.   Social workers and those who work with at risk youth are also in demand.   

A degree in Criminal Justice can open the door to any number of fulfilling career options.  Alternately, you can use this degree as a springboard toward a higher education in law or the medical field. Whichever path you choose, you can be certain that studying Criminal Justice will open you up to a lifetime of interesting and exciting job opportunities.

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