Have you ever considered whether any criminal justice degree jobs might be right for you? Could a position with your local law enforcement agency be a fulfilling career choice? If you're intrigued by stories featuring private detectives, criminal profilers, or police detectives solving crimes and bringing criminals to justice, then you've come to the right place. Earning a bachelor's degree in criminal justice at University of the Cumberlands could be your first step toward securing a job you'll love.
Is a Criminal Justice Degree Right for Me?
A criminal justice degree could be great career preparation, especially if you're good with people. With a degree in criminal justice, you might work in corrections, as a police officer, or in the office of a local attorney. Regardless of where you decide to work, you'll have peace of mind knowing that your work matters and makes a real difference, especially to victims and their families.
Criminal Justice Education Journey
When you're ready to begin acquiring the skills and knowledge to land a job in a police department, with a crime lab, or in the court system, consider a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. This undergraduate program could give you an edge when it comes to applying for criminal justice jobs and help you develop the skills needed to succeed in the criminal justice field, such as handling evidence and interviewing witnesses.
Skills Acquired With a Criminal Justice Degree
Depending on your school's criminal justice program and the specializations it offers, the skills you can expect to acquire may vary. However, certain hard and soft skills are covered relatively universally at the undergraduate level. You should develop a deep understanding of the United States legal system to help navigate complex legal issues. You’ll learn how to collect and evaluate evidence, perform forensic analysis, and properly assess a crime scene. Many criminal justice programs also emphasize research skills, including data collection and analysis.
Perhaps the most essential soft skill you could gain is ethical decision-making. Ethics should be at the forefront of any quality criminal justice program. You might face ethical dilemmas and decisions daily during your criminal justice career, so you’ll need to be prepared to navigate them.
Effective communication is a vital soft skill in just about every field, criminal justice potentially more than most. You should be able to communicate clearly, persuasively, and calmly, often during tense situations. Your program is likely to place a strong emphasis on developing interpersonal skills, such as de-escalation, mediation, conflict and dispute resolution, and community outreach.
Careers With a Criminal Justice Degree
What are your criminal justice career options after you earn your degree? Will you be able to find work, and will it be enjoyable? Signs say yes. For example, U.S. News & World Report lists the job of paralegal at #8 on the list of Best Social Service Jobs. If you feel you're up to the challenge, then you may be one of the courageous folks who find this field immensely satisfying. The good news? You have many criminal justice career options from which to choose.
Police officers enforce laws and apprehend the criminals who break them. As a police officer, you may be responsible for patrolling your town or city to ensure citizens are safe from crimes such as burglary, robbery, assault, and murder. When crimes occur, you may help secure crime scenes and question witnesses. You'll be responsible for writing reports of what happened, arresting people suspected of committing crimes, and bringing them to your police station for fingerprinting and incarceration.
Police officers may enforce traffic laws, serve warrants, intervene in domestic disputes, and respond to 911 calls. In this role, you'll be specially trained in self-defense, firearms, negotiation, and de-escalation. You'll receive training in how to interact with victims and their families, too. There may be times when you're required to participate in dangerous situations or interact with people who are threatening or menacing.
Correctional officers work in jails and prisons, helping manage the inmate population. In the role of correctional officer, you may be responsible for working in a guard tower or walking the tier of a prison to ensure inmates are following policies and interacting safely with each other and your fellow officers. At times, you may be required to escort prisoners and travel with them in buses or vans to hospitals or infirmaries or facilities such as courthouses.
As a corrections officer, you'll be trained in self-defense, firearms, negotiation, de-escalation, and physical fitness. You may be exposed to certain levels of danger in this position, and you may be required to interact with inmates who have committed serious crimes.
Paralegals work in the offices of lawyers in roles that combine support duties with legal assistance. These professionals have legal training, so they're able to assist lawyers with tasks such as legal research and the drafting of legal documents. They may also be responsible for collecting evidence, filing appeals, and interviewing clients.
This criminal justice role analyzes data that has been collected and makes educated assessments based upon that data and their knowledge of region and culture. This person may be employed by an agency such as Homeland Security to assess threats to the nation's safety.
To be successful as an intelligence analyst, you must have keen computer skills, be good with data, and have knowledge of threat assessment.
Private investigators must be licensed in most states. To obtain a license, you may be required to have training as a police officer or detective, have several years of experience, be trained in firearms, and be employed by a licensed private detective agency. However, the requirements vary by state.
In this profession, you may work for private citizens, investigating issues such as theft, infidelity, missing persons, or background verifications. You may encounter dangerous situations and people, and you may be required to carry a weapon.
Probation or Parole Officer
When someone is released from prison or assigned probation by the court system, they're often required to report to a parole officer. A parole officer meets with their client on a regular basis and checks in with them frequently to help them manage the transition from incarceration back into their communities. The parole officer meets regularly with their client to offer support services and encouragement and to report on their client's employment status, physical address, and family situation. and They’ll keep track of and offer support to their client until their parole or probationary term has concluded.
Youth Correctional Counselor
Youth correctional counselors usually work in youth facilities, such as detention centers, counseling young people who have been convicted of crimes. Their roles are similar to those of correctional officers in that they help keep the peace inside the facility. However, they may have additional duties, such as facilitating recreational activities and playing supportive roles in rehabilitation.
Criminal profilers are experts in human behavior. They study subjects such as psychology, sociology, investigation, analysis, and statistics and apply this knowledge to build profiles of offenders. They work closely with police to solve crimes and identify perpetrators.
Forensic Science Technician
Forensic science technicians use science to help solve crimes. They may record and gather evidence at a crime scene, examine evidence collected from a crime scene, or work in a crime laboratory, assisting scientists and researchers process and catalog evidence.
Knowledge of biology, forensics, and human anatomy are vital parts of becoming a forensic science technician. Attention to detail is vital, too. Often, these professionals will be called upon to testify in court, and they must ensure evidence is handled, examined, and stored appropriately.
Investigative reporters usually work for news agencies, including newspapers, television networks, or magazines. They interview witnesses and analyze information to help solve mysteries. While reporters may collaborate with law enforcement, their agencies are all-too-often at odds with one another. For this reason, reporters need excellent skills in communicating, writing, reading, interviewing, and getting along with local police and community members.
Public Safety Officer
Public safety officers perform many of the same duties as police officers. However, they may have more flexibility within the community to go where they're needed and to perform various duties, such as fighting fires, patrolling college campuses, directing traffic during public events, or reporting suspicious activity.
In many areas, public safety officers carry weapons, so specialized firearms training is required. This job may expose you to dangerous people and situations.
The victim advocate may be employed by a law enforcement agency, counseling center, social service organization, or by the court system. This is the person who meets with victims of crime, providing support and helping to guide them through the legal process.
Victim advocates are integral because they're often one of the first people called in to meet with the victim. They can help the victim seek medical care, contact family members, secure a change of clothes and safe accommodations for the night, and provide ongoing support as needed.
Drug Enforcement Administration Agent
DEA agents are employed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to track down and apprehend those associated with the illegal manufacture or movement of drugs. They gather evidence, partner with local law enforcement, arrest suspects, share intelligence with other agencies, and participate in drug education programs within the community.
Is Criminal Justice a Good Major?
Criminal justice is a solid major, especially when combined with psychology, forensic science, or digital forensics. With a bachelor's degree to your credit, you may have increased opportunities, including the ability to rise more quickly through the ranks or to begin your career in a higher position. Typically, criminal justice jobs offer solid benefits and strong job security. Unfortunately, there will always be people who break the law, but fortunately for you, this will forever create a need for those willing to safeguard it.
To learn more, we invite you to explore our Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky. Tt's our mission to help as many students as possible earn their degrees so they can go on to meet their life goals. Our Christian values and strong dedication to achievement are only part of what make University of the Cumberlands stand out above the competition. Contact an admission advisor to learn more today.