Choosing a Criminal Justice Career

Have you watched CSI, Criminal Minds or NCIS and thought about a career in the criminal justice field? Did you know that there are online, criminal justice degree programs that may provide the flexibility and knowledge you need to earn an Associate’s, Bachelors or Master’s in criminal justice? Click here to let eLearners help!

Important qualities to have when considering a criminal justice career:

  • Leadership skills
  • Empathetic personality
  • Perceptive
  • Strong
  • Stamina
  • Communicates well
  • Multi-tasks

If you can check off the items on this list, then the next step is to explore possible ways to jumpstart your career in the criminal justice field. What are some of your potential job options?

Correctional Officers. Even though the anticipated job growth is 5% through 2020 – according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS)[i], it’s due to limited budgets and downward trends in crime rates – correctional officers are necessary to ensure that order within prisons exists, inmates are supervised, and prison facilities are routinely inspected so that they meet required standards. There could be higher turnover when correctional officers retire or move to other jobs. Also, working as a correctional officer can be quite stressful.   

These officers should also:

  • Search inmates and cells for contraband items like drugs or weapons
  • Check prisons for any type of breach
  • Act professionally—without showing favoritism among inmates
  • Escort prison visitors or inmates
  • Assist in the rehabilitation of inmates

Educational Requirements:

All corrections officers must have graduated from high school and go through academy training[ii]. Some agencies require a college education and/or work experience. If you want to work in an entry-level position within a federal prison, you must have a Bachelor’s degree and three years’ work experience in an industry related to counseling others[iii].

Forensic Science Technicians, a.k.a. Crime Scene Investigators. According to the BLS, the anticipated job growth of forensic science technicians is supposed to increase by 19% through 2020 [iv]. Because of the expanding use of technology in the criminal justice field, coupled with more awareness about forensic evidence, “[m]ore forensic science technicians will be needed to provide timely forensics information to law enforcement agencies and courts” [v].

Forensic science technicians may have many duties such as:

  • Organizing, preserving, and transferring evidence to crime labs
  • Making sketches of crime scenes
  • Walking through a crime scene to decide how evidence will be taken

Within laboratories, forensic science technicians may:

  • Reconstruct crime scenes
  • Classify evidence
  • Use chemicals to analyze crime scene materials
  • Look at toxicology
  • Consult with other professionals in the field

Educational Requirements:

The exact requirements may vary according to employer, but most forensic science technicians need a Bachelor’s degree to work in crime labs. In addition, extensive on-site job training is typically mandated [vi].

Probation Officer. This occupation is expected to grow by 18% through the year 2020, according to the BLS [vii]. In 2010, probation officers earned average annual incomes of $47,200[viii]. However, don’t let lots of paper work or travel deter you. Becoming a probation officer might be a great career for you if you are interested in working with former offenders.

Some job duties you may have if you become a probation officer:

  • Write up reports on offenders’ progress
  • Talk about treatment plans with offenders
  • Arrange for treatment options for offenders
  • Assess offenders to determine best treatment options
  • Meet with offenders’ families
  • Oversee offenders

Educational requirements:

Most employers expect you to have a Bachelor’s degree and often times you must pass psychological, oral, and written exams[ix].

Entering the field of criminal justice may open many doors for you. You could be self-employed and begin your own PI business, you might work for the government in homeland security[x] or as border patrol, or you may decide that the FBI[xi] intrigues you the most. Whatever path you decide to pursue, be sure to check for online, college degree programs that best suit your needs.

 

 


[i] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/correctional-officers.htm#tab-6

[ii] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/correctional-officers.htm#tab-4

[iii] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/correctional-officers.htm#tab-4

[iv] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science...

[v] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science...

[vi] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science...

[vii] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-a...

[viii] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-a...

[ix] http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-a...

[x] http://www.dhs.gov/

[xi] http://www.fbi.gov/

 

Additional Sources:

http://oedb.org/criminal-justice-careers/correctional-officer/

http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3021.03