Perhaps one of the most in-demand degree choices for those who wish to be involved in the legal system is one in criminal justice studies. Earning a degree in criminal justice (as either a standalone degree or one in combination with another specialty) qualifies graduates for a wide array of career options. Generally speaking, three of the most common career options for graduates include: corrections, law enforcement and investigations.
While these are the three most commonly chosen career paths, there are many other variables that go into the final selection. These include: The type of degree youíve earned, previous work experience, personal interests and your unique professional/personal aptitudes.
Career Option #1: Corrections
When compared to the previous two career options, which primarily involves preventing crime and apprehending persons believed to be involved in a crime, a career within the corrections industry primarily deals with persons who have been either convicted or accused of a crime. Once a person is arrested but before a conviction persons accused of criminal activity are typically stored in jails. Within these locations, they must be monitored and guarded. This is where your career as a corrections officer comes into play.
Graduates of a criminal justice degree program generally work as correctional guards in either jails or prisons. Some graduates even find their way into the career of probation officers, which involves monitoring parolees to ensure they adhere to the official terms of their release. What many people don’t know is a career within the corrections industry can lead into other opportunities, such as counseling or administrative roles.
Career Option #2: Law Enforcement
Upon graduating from a criminal justice degree program, many students find their way into the law enforcement career pathway. While this form of employment requires additional police academy training, the foundation elements learned within a criminal justice degree establishes an ability to work in a wide range of law enforcement careers.
As a criminal justice student, you can find yourself employed with specific areas of law enforcement. For example, common career paths include border patrol agents, transportation security agents, fish and game officers as well as local police officers. If this career path interests you, make sure to look up additional training requirements. For more on how to become law enforcement, see this source.
Career Option #3: Investigation
Investigators work to solve highly specific crimes that have been committed. Generally speaking, these professionals are known as Private Investigators. While this career option has been glamorized by popular media, in real life, private investigators are contracted by companies and private individuals to investigate crimes or to obtain information about a specific person. If you’re interested in this career option, there are many specialization certifications you can earn to become a specialist in this field.