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Criminal Justice Career Paths

Criminal Justice
Stocker Assistant Manager Correction Officer
Correctional Sergeant
6 Yearsyrs
Police Officer Security Officer Patrol Officer
Detective
7 Yearsyrs
Deputy Sheriff Police Officer Security Officer
Lead Security Officer
5 Yearsyrs
Stocker Security Guard Police Officer
Police Sergeant
7 Yearsyrs
Stocker Security Guard Police Officer
Criminal Investigator
7 Yearsyrs
Police Officer Security Officer Loss Prevention Agent
Loss Prevention Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Stocker Assistant Manager Correction Officer
Corrections Counselor
6 Yearsyrs
Patrolman Deputy Sheriff Patrol Officer
Patrol Sergeant
8 Yearsyrs
Loss Prevention Agent Loss Prevention Specialist Loss Prevention Manager
Asset Protection Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Deputy Sheriff Police Officer Investigator
Senior Investigator
9 Yearsyrs
Police Officer Sergeant Security Officer
Security Director
10 Yearsyrs
Military Police Officer Correction Officer Loss Prevention Officer
Loss Prevention Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Loss Prevention Agent Loss Prevention Specialist Loss Prevention Manager
Regional Loss Prevention Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Deputy Sheriff Patrol Officer Criminal Investigator
Special Agent
7 Yearsyrs
Patrolman Deputy Sheriff Police Sergeant
Police Lieutenant
10 Yearsyrs
Deputy Sheriff Patrol Officer Investigator
Special Investigator
9 Yearsyrs
Police Officer
Fraud Investigator
6 Yearsyrs
Patrol Officer Investigator
Field Investigator
7 Yearsyrs
Patrol Officer
Crime Scene Investigator
7 Yearsyrs
Youth Counselor Case Manager Probation Officer
Criminal Justice Instructor
11 Yearsyrs
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Criminal Justice Jobs

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How To Get A Job With A Criminal Justice Degree

Criminal Justice is a fun sort of field where you get to deal in one way or another with criminals and lawbreakers. It can be a physically and emotionally demanding field, requiring a person to deal with some intense feelings and situations. It can even be dangerous at points.

These are reasons why many people avoid the department, but for Criminal Justice Majors, that's exactly why they joined up.

There's lots of places you can go once you get started on your criminal justice career, including anywhere from police departments to correctional facilities, and could even lead to you joining the FBI, if you're so inclined. But once you're out of college, where do you start?

Which is all to say that when graduation day comes around, you've got a lot of tough decisions to make about where and what you're going to be.

Well, that's where we come in. We literally created a map, just for Criminal Justice Majors such as yourself, to navigate your way through the choppy waters of recent graduation.

Feel free to focus on the map alone -- it's pretty cool, if we do say so ourselves. But for those of you who prefer step by step navigation on your path, keep reading. We'll give you the rundown on:

  • What skills you'll need
  • How to begin
  • What jobs you can expect to find as a Criminal Justice Major
  • Some quick interview tips
  • Consider graduate school
  • External resources

First thing's first: what skills you'll need to get started.

1. Skills for Criminal Justice Majors

Skills for criminal justice majors tend to fall within the analytical and information-gathering categories. You've spent most of your time reading about cases and laws and the various applications of the law, and now that you're entering the field you need to be able to apply this information to concrete situations.

This requires a great memory and concentration, not to mention a creative and active mind. It's certainly not for everyone, but for the brightest and the best, careers can be long and rewarding.

Let's take a look at what this means for Criminal Justice in particular:

Broad knowledge of law and the nature of crimes.

This is an absolute must. If you get through your undergraduate school without much knowledge of the law and the reasons that people break it, then you're pretty much useless to any career you could hope to have in the field. Knowledge should be fairly broad with small areas of specialization -- preferably areas that you hope to expand on with whatever career you go with.

Computer literacy/research skills.

Another absolute must. For almost any career in Criminal Justice, you'll be spending a lot of time on computers going through mounds and mounds of data. You have to have some way of processing and understanding this information. A good understanding of computers is particularly important nowadays, given how important the internet has become to society, and how much of it is used as an accessory to (or even medium for) crime.

Analytical abilities.

Along with being able to conduct research and locate relevant data, you'll need to be able to come up with creative and useful interpretations of this data in order to solve the complex problems that the Criminal Justice field often presents.

2. Where to Begin Your Career After Getting a Criminal Justice Degree

There are as many kinds of internship opportunities in the Criminal Justice field as there are different kinds of jobs in said field, but some of the more plentiful you'll find are related to law enforcement in one way or another. These assorted groups and government agencies are always looking for new blood, especially when that (metaphorical) new blood is willing to take a look at some actual blood. On an unpaid basis, no less.

These internships give you a great opportunity to see how these organizations operate from the inside, and help you make the kind of connections you'll need when it comes to moving forward with your career after college.

Some common groups that Criminal Justice Majors intern with include:

  • Sheriff's or Police Departments
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Department of Justice
  • Central Intelligence Agency

Before you settle on an internship or placement, though, you'll want to make sure it's the right fit for you. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Where (in the state/the country/the world) do you want to work?
  • What size and type of organization do you want to work for?
  • Do you need compensation in an internship, or might you be able to consider alternative compensation (experience, work samples, references, networking, etc.)
  • Is relocation an option?

3. Available Jobs For Criminal Justice Majors

Jobs for Criminal Justice Majors exist in many different fields, but for the most part, you'll find them in either government positions, private correctional facilities, or in security. Other jobs in criminal justice are more related to rehabilitation -- helping ex-convicts adjust to life outside of prison, rather than putting or keeping them there in the first place.

These are all very different fields, but in all of them there's much to find that might be interesting or exciting to you regardless of how you choose to specialize. In fact, the job choices ahead of you might become somewhat overwhelming with the size of the options available.

With our map, you can click the Job Titles and learn more specific information for each position (what their responsibilities are, how much they get paid, etc.) But here, we wanted to call out some of the most common jobs for recent Criminal Justice major grads.

Here are a few of the most interesting entry-level jobs for recent grads such as yourself:

Probation and parole officer

Probation and parole officers handle individual cases of those who have gone through the correctional system and are now on probation or parole. The role requires a lot of empathy as well as the ability to project authority, as it requires talking one-on-one with and giving directions to ex-convicts. Due to the unique difficulties of the position, probation officers tend to specialize in certain kinds of cases.

Paralegal

Paralegals are people who are trained for tasks related to legal duties and to provide legal assistance, but who cannot offer legal services on their own (depending on local laws). For the most part, paralegals work through attorneys, who they assist or otherwise represent.

FBI field agent

FBI field agents are some of the best of the best when it comes to the Criminal Justice field. It takes a series of tests, both physical and mental, just to be accepted, and only those within the age range of 23-37 are allowed to give it a shot. If you manage to get in, you'll spend months training at the FBI's facility in Quantico, VA, after which you could be shipped to almost anywhere. It takes a lot to be a field agent, but those who make it through the process are as passionate as they get.

4. Some Quick Job Search Tips for Criminal Justice Majors

Go Government

One way or another, the most likely employer for your first job in a criminal justice career is going to be related to the government in some way. It's the government's laws that criminals are breaking -- it stands to reason that the most jobs related to criminal justice would be coming from Uncle Sam.

So before you scour the depths of the internet looking for any company desperate enough to hire someone with lots of debt and no experience, check out the US Government's USAJobs site, where empty government positions are posted.

Go Local

On a small related note, local government is an excellent place to start when looking for government positions. This idea seems obvious, but the practical aspect of actually going to a local Chamber of Commerce or Town Hall and just trying to talk to someone directly doesn't always occur to folks.

In general, though, it's a great idea to try introducing yourself in person to potential employers. It makes you more memorable, and as far as getting your foot in the door goes, it's much more difficult for someone to ignore you when you're out tapping your foot in their waiting room. If nothing else, they'll probably be open to answering a few of your questions about finding a job in your field.

5. Continuing Education and Certifications in Criminal Justice

Obtaining a graduate degree in your course of study can serve as an excellent way to separate you from the herd -- but you must first decide whether it's worth your time.

Master's degrees in Criminal Justice work much like any other field -- they make you more competitive and have the potential to get you a nice pay bump, with the trade-off being time and money spent achieving the degree.

The PhD is a little unique, however, in that many of those who achieve the PhD still end up being involved in the practical field of Criminal Justice rather than just teaching or conducting research, unlike most other majors. Research is still the primary purpose of the PhD, but doctors in Criminal Justice also end up influencing public policy or acting as high level consultants.

Once more, here are the common advanced degrees that people with Criminal Justice degree normally consider:

Certificate in Criminal Justice

  • In between a Bachelor's and a Master's. While not necessarily a must-have when it comes to getting a job, in certain situations a certificate can make you a more attractive candidate than those with only a Bachelor's, whereas

Master's in Criminal Justice

  • Good for increasing competitiveness in the job market and bumping up starting pay. Additionally, the skills gained through an effective Master's program will give you a significant leg up on your fellow employees when you're just starting out, as they may not have the critical skills or specialized abilities that you now take for granted as a Master's student

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice)

  • Good for conducting research and remaining on the academic side of the Criminal Justice field. However, many PhDs also act as high level consultants and work with public policy groups, both of which allow Criminal Justice PhDs to have an active role in both the public and private sectors of the Criminal Justice field

6. External Resources

If you're still not sure what to do with your degree here are some external sites, to help you with your decision:

Backstage

A website designed to help actors find jobs, including postings for auditions and open casting calls.

The American Dance Guild

A national dance association dedicated to spotlighting the work of dancers and choreographers across America. Holds a yearly festival in NY which showcases the work of over 30 choreographers and highlights two "master choreographers."

The American Institute for Graphic Arts

One of the largest professional associations for graphic designers. Resources available to members includes design news, continuing education and certifications, contests, and networking opportunities.

USAJobs

Enter "Criminal Justice" into the search bar and you can get a sense of what kind of government jobs are available to Criminal Justice Majors. Find a job title you like and come back here to learn more about it.

Bureau Of Labor Statistics

The BLS offers detailed data on pay, location, and availability of different kinds of jobs across the country.

In fact, we draw a lot of our research on the best places for jobs from the information provided on the site.

And if this all seems like a lot - don't worry - the hard part (getting your degree!) is already over.

These Are The 50 Most Common First Jobs For Criminal Justice Majors

Top Locations: New York, NY; Chicago, IL; Miami, FL; Saint Louis, MO;
Job Description: Security guards and gaming surveillance officers patrol and protect property against theft, vandalism, terrorism, and illegal activity.
CGrowth DJob security

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Top Locations: Huntsville, TX; New York, NY; Nashville, TN; Columbia, SC;
Job Description: Correctional officers are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. Bailiffs are law enforcement officers who maintain safety and order in courtrooms.
CGrowth CJob security

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Top Locations: New York, NY; Washington, DC; Los Angeles, CA; Detroit, MI;
Job Description: Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, who are sometimes called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes.
CGrowth BJob security

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Top Locations: New York, NY; Miami, FL; Houston, TX; Boston, MA;
Job Description: Assistant managers have a lot of responsibilities, and this job requires good leadership skills. The manager is typically responsible for planning and directing the operations of a business unit, department or store.
CGrowth CJob security

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Top Locations: New York, NY; Houston, TX; Miami, FL; San Antonio, TX;
Job Description: Tellers are responsible for accurately processing routine transactions at a bank. These transactions include cashing checks, depositing money, and collecting loan payments.
BGrowth DJob security

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Top Locations: New York, NY; Houston, TX; Chicago, IL; Washington, DC;
Job Description: Secretaries and administrative assistants perform clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, prepare documents, schedule appointments, and support other staff.
DGrowth DJob security

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Top Locations: New York, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Sacramento, CA; Orlando, FL;
Job Description: Top executives devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals. They plan, direct, and coordinate operational activities of companies and organizations.
CGrowth BJob security

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Top Locations: New York, NY; Miami, FL; Houston, TX; Chicago, IL;
Job Description: Receptionists perform administrative tasks, such as answering phones, receiving visitors, and providing general information about their organization to the public and customers.
BGrowth DJob security

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Top Locations: Atlanta, GA; El Paso, TX; Boston, MA; Washington, DC;
Job Description: Waiters and waitresses take orders and serve food and beverages to customers in dining establishments.
DGrowth DJob security

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Top Locations: New York, NY; Chicago, IL; Philadelphia, PA; Jacksonville, FL;
Job Description: Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.
AGrowth DJob security

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