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Why More Americans Are Choosing to Start a Career in Criminal Justice

4 minute read

By Ryan Pratt

Have you considered a career in criminal justice? This field offers professionals a chance to make a significant impact on society and covers a wide range of career paths, making it attractive to a diverse audience.

By choosing the right educational program, you can complete your criminal justice studies in a timely and cost-effective manner. Start a search today to find out why more Americans are choosing a career in criminal justice.

What Does a Career in Criminal Justice Look Like?

You might find yourself employed at a local police station, an FBI office, a forensic lab, or even a correctional facility, based on your interests, skills, and education. Your work environment could range from government buildings to outdoor settings, where you might gather evidence, offer protection, pursue suspects, or monitor parolees.

Opting for a career in criminal justice over other fields may provide several benefits, such as:

  • A strong sense of purpose derived from assisting others and fostering public safety.
  • Stimulating, diverse, and mentally engaging tasks in your daily work.
  • Consistent income, employee benefits, and prospects for career growth.
  • Versatility stemming from the development of skills transferable to various professions.

How to Begin Learning Criminal Justice

A bachelor’s degree is advisable, even though certain positions in the criminal justice field only require a high school diploma. An undergraduate degree leads to a wider range of opportunities, as well as a higher probability of salary increases and promotions. Needless to say, these financial perks can also boost your career outlook.

Supplementing your degree with additional courses or a double major – in biology, chemistry, computer science, or accounting – can open career doors in forensic science and analysis. For example, if your goal is to investigate cybercrimes, a strong understanding of computer technology can set you apart from other candidates.

Another important subject to include in your studies is psychology, which can benefit aspiring criminologists and police detectives. Detectives rely on psychological insights when interrogating suspects and determining motives. Meanwhile, correctional treatment specialists use their psychological knowledge to rehabilitate inmates.

What Types of Jobs Are Available in Criminal Justice?

A criminal justice degree can open the door to a variety of careers in law enforcement, corrections, and the legal system. Some common careers and responsibilities include:

  • Police Officer: enforce laws, protect citizens, maintain order, investigate crimes, and respond to emergencies.
  • Detective or Criminal Investigator: investigate crimes, gather evidence, interview witnesses and suspects, and solve complex criminal cases.
  • Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist: supervise offenders, develop rehabilitation plans, and assess progress to promote successful reintegration into society.
  • Corrections Officer: oversee inmates in jails or prisons, maintain order, and ensure safety within facilities.
  • Paralegal or Legal Assistant: provide crucial support to attorneys, conducting research, drafting documents, and organizing case materials.
  • Forensic Scientist or Crime Scene Investigator: analyze evidence, reconstruct incidents, and assist law enforcement in solving crimes.
  • Private Investigator: gather information, conduct surveillance, and solve cases for individuals, businesses, or legal professionals.
  • Court Reporter: transcribe legal proceedings, ensuring accurate, verbatim records for reference, appeals, and accessibility.
  • Security Manager or Loss Prevention Specialist: oversee, develop, and implement security policies to protect organizations, assets, and employees.
  • Border Patrol Agent or Customs Officer: safeguard borders, enforce immigration laws, and inspect travelers and goods.

These are just a few examples of the many career paths available to those with a criminal justice degree. Specific opportunities will depend on your education, experience, and personal interests.

How Much Can You Earn?

Obviously, what you can earn with a criminal justice degree really depends on how you choose to utilize it. There are so many unique positions, ranks, and academic qualifications that can influence compensation.

The average police officer makes just shy of $60,000 per year, which is similar to the average salaries of court reporters and paralegals. Probation officers tend to make less ($49,600 on average), while customs officers tend to earn more ($71,736).

Having a degree can help you maximize the potential of whichever career you pursue. However, keep in mind that each occupation will have different salary caps.

How to Get Started on Your Criminal Justice Career

With numerous career options in the criminal justice sector, it’s essential to evaluate your strengths, requirements, and interests. Which role would be most fulfilling? What level of education or training program are you prepared to undertake?

To answer these questions, connect with a few industry professionals. Schedule meetings with individuals working in your areas of interest and participate in informational sessions organized by educational institutions and organizations. This research will help you discover the ideal criminal justice career path tailored to your preferences.

Shutterstock: mojo cp

Ryan Pratt


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