Introduction to Criminal Justice Degrees
CareersInCriminalJustice is a site focused on both Criminal Justice degrees and careers. Criminal justice is a field with a wide range of degree programs, subject specialties and career opportunities–everything from FBI agents to private detectives to bailiffs.
Students can pursue degree levels based on their career choice, with associates, bachelors, and masters in criminal justice being popular degrees in this field. Most people working in criminal justice have at least a bachelor’s degree, while high ranking officials almost always possess a masters degree.
Criminal Justice Degrees
A degree in criminal justice can lead you down a path to working in law enforcement or the government. The criminal justice field has become widely popular due to television shows that chronicle an unrealistic yet exciting angle for working in law enforcement. It can be an exciting field, but you should also consider long hours, exhausting cases that go nowhere and working with uncooperative suspects and witnesses.
Studying for a degree in criminal justice, you will learn the technicalities of the law, communication skills, analytical and problem solving skills, and public policy. You will also learn criminology theories and how the criminal justice system works. There is a lot to learn when obtaining a criminal justice degree. You must be open-minded and fair when learning new material that may look at things from a different perspective. Currently criminal justice is focusing on computer security and technology. Those skilled to work in security utilizing the latest technology will have many more job opportunities than those without the tech skills.
What is the career outlook for someone working in criminal justice?
Those working in criminal justice are set for a 10% increase in the next decade, which is only slightly higher than the average growth for all industries. Those working with technology will experience more growth as law enforcement officials continue to find new ways to use computers and programs to their advantage when leading investigations. A background in psychology as well as criminal justice comes in useful when working with criminals and creating profiles for the police. All of this depend on which sector of criminal justice you want to work in.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018.” With excellent job prospects and earning potential in the next decade, a degree in criminal justice will pay off in the long run.
What jobs can I have with a degree in criminal justice?
There are many different career options in the criminal justice field. Depending on your area of interest, you can pursue a career as a police officer, detective, and many other in-demand professions. Criminal justice covers many aspects of law enforcement so whether you’re interested in working for the federal government, a private detective agency, or your city’s police department, a criminal justice degree will prepare you to assume these roles.
Police officer: Not all police officers in the U.S. require a degree, but sheriffs and police captains usually have a bachelors degree. Police officers must also attend a police academy in some counties and cities. Working as a police office can be a dangerous job if you are in a city with high crime rates. Police officers are now using technology more than ever before to do everything from a routine traffic stop to running fingerprints to find a suspect. Police officers should expect long hours and odd shifts, such as 9 p.m. – 4 a.m. It is also important to remember that some counties and cities are low on funding and resources which can result in cops working excessive hours. The average police officer earns about $40,000 per year.
Detective: A detective often serves as a police officer first, and often has a bachelors degree. Detectives are experts at communication. You must be comfortable working with people from all backgrounds. In the U.S. detectives who are fluent in Spanish are high in demand in cities with large Hispanic populations. Detectives also work long hours like police officers. Detectives also work weekends and sometimes holidays, depending on what they are working on. Detectives may also travel for work at a moment’s notice. Detectives earn about $60,000 per year and this can go up for lead detectives with proven track records.
Lawyer: A criminal justice degree is useful for lawyers because it allows you to see the scope of the justice system before entering law school. It also provides you with a solid foundation to build upon when attending law school. Studying for a criminal justice degree will teach you criminal theory and policies, while law school gives you hands-on training with cases and briefs. A criminal justice degree is not required to apply for law school, but it is a common degree for aspiring law students. Lawyers working in the criminal justice system work long hours on cases, so working holidays and weekends is the norm. In addition to law school, you must pass the bar exam to gain employment as a lawyer. Most lawyers are employed by a firm or self-employed. Lawyers typically earn about $75,000 per year and this number goes up in large cities working for a major law firm.
Private Investigator: Private investigators often have a law enforcement background. Sometimes they are ex-policemen or detectives and now have their own businesses investigating people. This prior experience working in law enforcement is what qualifies them to work as private investigators and offers peace of mind to clients. Private investigators are usually self-employed and take on clients from all walks of life. Working as a private investigator can be dangerous depending on the case. Private investigators deal with everything from examining financial and employment records to following people. Private investigators usually make great use of technology with GPS recording devices and other gadgets. Some private investigators have extensive experience with computer forensics work and some even possess a background in computer science. The salary for a private investigator can vary greatly, but the average is around $41,000.
Other careers of interest may include:
- Social and human service assistants
- Social workers
- Correctional officers
These careers and many others offer great opportunity for growth, compensation, and visibility. Graduates of criminal justice programs assume leadership and management roles in their communities. With an excellent career outlook, pursuing your degree now is a wise decision. Our list of accredited programs below will link you with valuable information about the degree of your choice.
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