What Is the Use of a Criminal Justice Degree?

There are various positions in which criminal justice professionals work, both in the public sector and in the private one. Firstly, when we refer to criminal justice, we refer to the ways in which the Government ensures the protection of individuals against crime.

Criminal justice is about maintenance of order, crime prevention and discouraging and crime punishment. In this process, public institutions such as the police force, courtrooms and corrections are involved. The sub-fields of criminal justice are law enforcement, courts and corrections.

A criminal justice degree can prepare you for various entry-level jobs in the local, state or Federal agencies. Also, it might help you advance your position in a career that you have already started to dedicate yourself to. People with a background in criminal justice are most commonly found in law enforcement and corrections, but others have chosen to work in investigation, public safety, homeland security and justice administration.

No matter the level: associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s, a curriculum focusing on criminal justice will approach crime and injustice in a detailed and programmatic manner. The field is interdisciplinary, so courses will mix social sciences, humanities, behavioral sciences, leadership and computer science. For example, in Universities where a master of criminal justice program exists, these can be courses to go through:

  • Cyber Crime,
  • Forensic Behavioral Analysis,
  • Terrorism,
  • Youth Crime Problems,
  • Ethics in Criminal Justice,
  • Critical Issues in Criminal Justice,
  • Crime and Criminology,
  • Fire Science and Emergency Management,
  • Modern Constitutional Theory
  • and others, depending on the educational institution.

Specializations offered by such master programs can be: Law Enforcement, Correction, Courts, Homeland Security, Digital Forensics, Policing, Emergency Management, depending on the institution, again.

What exactly can you do with a criminal justice degree?

Quite a few job options are available to those having a criminal justice degree. Careers in the field of criminal justice, from local police officers to state police officers, or from sheriff’s deputies to FBI and DEA special agents, can be obtained when a criminal justice degree is possessed. Opportunities also exist in the correction systems, respectively in jails and prisons.

Careers in law enforcement

Having a degree in criminal justice, you could work as a police officer, detective or investigator and police dispatcher. Aside from police careers, a criminal justice major can get you into jobs such as forensic science technician, forensic ballistics expert and blood strain pattern analysis

Careers in forensics or CSI (crime scene investigation) may also require knowledge of sciences such as physics and biology. In these situations, mixing a minor in science with a major in criminal justice or the other way around may be necessary.

There are many law enforcement careers that may not ask for a college degree, but having one can be to your advantage. Also, a degree in criminal justice is not the only one that can get you hired in the field. Law enforcement agencies of all sizes seek diverse workforce. Other popular majors that can get you hired in law enforcement are Business, Finance, Accounting, Sociology, Law, Information Technology, Engineering and Forensic Science.

Careers in the Courts System

The court system ensures that the innocence or guilt of a suspect offender is proven and punished. Criminal justice degree holders have these jobs in the court system to choose from: bailiff, defense attorney, victim’s advocate, prosecutor, legal secretary, paralegal, clerk or jury consultant.

Jobs such as bailiff and paralegal will ask for additional training and certification to be gone through. Other mentioned careers, such as that of defense attorney, jury consultant or prosecutor require advanced schooling, in a law school or in a graduate degree program.

Finally, careers in corrections

The punishments set by courts, from fines to probation, incarceration and parole, are carried out within the corrections system. A criminal justice major can help you obtain a job such as: correctional officer, forensic psychologist or probation or parole officer. There are jobs within the corrections system that may not ask for college education to have been gone through, while others require graduate level schooling (e.g., forensic psychology).

Anyway, if one expects to promote in their career, the criminal justice degree will be of help.