Is it necessary to be physically fit for a criminal justice career? Should someone looking into a criminal justice career start a fitness program? Whether you are pursuing an online CJ degree or a criminal justice degree at a traditional brick-and-mortar college or university, the answer is that it depends. Some jobs will require you to pass certain fitness tests. Others do not have fitness requirements, but being fit will make the job easier to do. In some jobs, fitness will be irrelevant.
Most law enforcement positions will have some physical fitness requirements. This includes everything from working with the FBI or border control to joining a local police force. FBI agents must be able to do a certain number of pushups and situps as well as demonstrating an ability to sprint and run a mile and a half. Border patrol agents are also required to do situps and pushups as well as passing a five-minute step test. Requirements for police forces and sheriff’s departments will vary, but they will generally be along the same lines with expectations for basic levels of cardiovascular fitness and strength.
Most correctional officers will be expected to meet some basic fitness tests as well, but even in a corrections position that does not have these requirements, being physically fit is an advantage. Working in corrections can be dangerous, and although many precautions are taken to ensure that corrections officers do not find themselves in life-threatening situations, it’s best to be prepared as much as possible. Similarly, people who work in juvenile facilities or other potentially volatile environments with offenders of any age may find it valuable to be physically fit even if the job does not specify this. Physical fitness will not just increase the chances of being able to defend oneself if an offender turns violent; it may act as a deterrent.
Another job that may not carry a physical fitness requirement but in which it would be an advantage is that of a private investigator. Some jobs such as coroner or forensic scientist may require a good deal of standing, and this will create less of a strain for the physically fit individual.
On the other hand, there are a number of jobs in which physical fitness is not a factor. Criminal attorneys, judges, criminal psychologists, profilers and university professors of criminal justice are just a few of the types of people in the career field who would not need to be physically fit to perform their jobs. Generally, for any type of work that primarily revolves around research and analysis, physical fitness will be irrelevant except as a general marker of good health. Therefore, while people with physical limitations may not be qualified for every type of criminal justice job, there are a number of career paths still open to them.