The job description of a criminal justice professional varies depending on what area of the criminal justice career field that one is involved in. Criminal justice careers can be pursued in many areas such as: FBI agents, CIA agents, secret service agents, police officers, police detectives, probation officers, corrections officers, private investigators, private security guards, medical examiners, crime scene technicians, or forensic analysts. The criminal justice field is not limited solely to the careers listed here. There are many possibilities that one can pursue.
A police officer is probably the first career the most people think of when they think of someone who has a career in criminal justice. Many of these officers begin in their local police department as entry level patrol officers and pursue higher ranks within the organization. They can be promoted to detective, lieutenant, sergeant, or even police chief. The salary grows as the time with the agency lengthens and the position of the officer becomes higher.
FBI agents, CIA agents, and secret service agents are all employed by the federal government of the United States. Careers in this area usually involve a lot of secrecy and a possibility of danger.
Probation officers and correction officers are similar. They are both responsible for making sure that someone who is a defendant does not violate any more laws. A corrections officer will handle a case prior to a defendant’s sentencing. Correctional officers are often employed by jails and basically ensure that a defendant does not commit more crimes and adheres to any conditions that the judge has imposed. A probation officer does the same thing but handles a defendant’s case after he or she has been sentenced.
Private investigators and security guards are generally employed by an individual or local business instead of a government agency. Private investigators will be expected to investigate matters of criminal or non-criminal nature. Private security guards will be expected to guard an individual, location, or simply to patrol an area.
The first major stepping stone in a criminal justice career is education. When choosing a criminal justice degree, you will have to choose what specific area that you want to pursue. This will determine what concentration of classes that you take. For example, if you want to become a medical examiner, you will need to take certain criminal justice classes as well as science and medical classes. Criminal justice degrees are available from both traditional and online universities. You can expect the job salaries to vary with the amount of education needed.
Once you have obtained a college degree in the area of criminal justice that you want to pursue, you can begin applying for jobs. A resume is a necessity and if you have done any interning or made connections with local agencies, you may want to ask them for a reference. It may also be beneficial to check with these agencies and see if they have open positions that you might be interested in.
Get the degree, get the job, and you will get a fulfilling and rewarding career in the criminal justice field.