Are you interested in creating safer communities and improving the lives of people in our society every day? If so, a career in criminal justice may be a great fit for you.
Earning any degree in criminal justice – an AS, BS, or MS – will prepare you to work in a variety of fields. These include law enforcement, the courts, forensic science, corrections, and private security. Criminal justice is very much a growing industry due to increasing population, technological innovations, and advanced security concerns.
There are four major areas you should be aware of within this field
- Law enforcement
- Courts and judicial system
- Private security
Let’s explore what each of these areas of criminal justice entails and which types of professional opportunities are available under each broad category.
In every jurisdiction – local, state, and federal – law enforcement professionals work to deter, detect, discover, and solve crimes against people, communities, institutions, businesses, states, municipalities, and the nation.
At the local level, law enforcement professionals work in communities through police departments and sheriff’s offices, for example, to keep residents safe. At the state and federal levels, they work in governmental organizational units or sub-units.
Federal law enforcement professionals who work for agencies such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. Customs and Border Protection typically have several years of experience at the local and/or state levels. Ideal candidates have special skills, such as proficiency with numbers or accounting, or are bilingual.
Job titles for positions in this field include:
- Police officer
- Homeland Security special agent
- Fish and game warden
- Sheriff’s deputy
- Customs agent
- Secret Service agent
- Immigration enforcement agent
- Law enforcement instructor
- Transit officer
- Crime scene investigator
Courts and Judicial System
The primary purpose of the courts is to determine the guilt or innocence of suspected criminals and pass sentencing. In addition to attorneys and judges, law enforcement professionals provide important support services to carry out the mission of the courts.
The U.S. court system comprises a federal system and 50 state systems, each with its own structures and procedures.
Positions within this category include:
- Sherriff’s deputy
- Court interpreter
- Victim’s advocate
- Case administrator
The corrections system incorporates all forms of sentencing and punishment of criminals, including incarceration, probation, and parole. While the system’s obvious role is to punish individuals convicted of crimes, the system has three primary goals: to punish, protect the population, and rehabilitate offenders.
A career in corrections offers a number of opportunities within the field’s core disciplines – community corrections (probations, parole, and pretrial services) and institutional correctional facilities (prisons, jails, and detention centers).
Potential jobs in this realm include:
- Corrections officer
- First-line supervisor of corrections officer
- Probation officer
- Corrections treatment specialist
- Prison warden
The private security industry is an important component to security and safety in our nation today.
In addition to protecting individuals, private security professionals protect many of the nation’s institutions and critical infrastructure systems. A growing number of U.S. companies rely on private security to protect employees, intellectual property, sensitive corporate data, and physical property, as well as to conduct investigations, ensure the security of company-owned technology, and manage pre-employment screening.
Types of positions you may choose to pursue in this area include:
- Cybersecurity analyst
- PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR
- Armored transport manager
- Personal security guard
- Security consultant
- Chief security officer
- Crime prevention specialist
- Private investigator
- Patrol services supervisor