A Guide to Careers in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice and other law enforcement based careers are satisfying and worthwhile fields. Providing a much needed service, careers in criminal justice encompass a wide array of work opportunities that focus on public safety. Whether it is on a crime scene, working as an investigator or agent, or in a laboratory performing forensic science; the opportunities for those interested in criminal justice are vast and varied. A career in the criminal justice or law enforcement field can be exciting, thrilling, and financially rewarding. Whether you’re in high school, attending college, or have already earned a college degree, you’ll find there are many opportunities for a successful career in the criminal justice and law enforcement field.

Those interested in the criminal justice field will find there are opportunities available for a variety of educational levels. For instance, those interested in becoming a police officer, sheriff, or corrections officer, may find a high school diploma is all that is needed. Some counties may require college credits in addition to a diploma. Those who pursue a college degree often find there are plenty of opportunities available; because the criminal justice field is far-reaching, many people that have degrees in areas not typically associated with law or justice find they may be eligible for positions. In particular, those with degrees in areas such as psychology, social work, or even those with science degrees, may find the switch to criminal justice trouble free. Forensic science has created numerous jobs for those interested in criminal justice; many of which require science degrees.

Some job opportunities in the criminal justice field include: security guards, agents, bailiffs, correctional or probation officers, forensic scientists, teachers, psychologists, criminal profilers, investigators, working with computer forensics, lawyers, paralegals, law librarians, prison guards and wardens, administrators, and managers. There are a number of federal and government opportunities for those in the criminal justice field as well. Examples of government based criminal justice careers include: a secret service agent, working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Association, the National Security Agency, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Central Intelligence Agency, National Park System (rangers), airport security, working as an agent with customs or border patrol, working with the U.S. military, federal air marshal, U.S. marshal, careers in the field of counter-terrorism, engineering careers such as forensic engineer, crime scene investigators and technicians, surveillance, and criminal profiler for federal agencies. As you can see, the criminal justice field is comprehensive.

Before determining the best career path to take, it is a good idea to perform plenty of research and determine what qualifications you need for your specific field. If you are currently in school, or have obtained a degree, you may find that you can fast track some of your required courses. Those interested in securing a criminal justice or law enforcement position with the federal government may find that searching official websites is the best way to determine the requirements needed. Keep in mind that local community positions will vary from one county to the next and will have different state requirements. If you are interested in a position with your local police force, find out their requirements directly, as this is the best way to make certain you have a full understanding of what you will need to do in order to be best qualified for the position. Due to the nature and importance of safety and security in the United States, criminal justice and law enforcement fields are expected to continue with healthy growth until 2018. You may find more information regarding specific careers in criminal justice and law enforcement fields in the links below.

Criminal Justice Websites

Career Planning/Information

Organizations and Associations

Additional Resources

Diana Weiss Aizman

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