Degrees in criminal justice have become increasingly popular along with the rising popularity of crime shows on television. But what can one do with a criminal justice degree? What sorts of criminal justice jobs are available to the graduate?
Becoming a police officer is the most obvious and one of the most popular choices. A person interested in law enforcement might also join the state patrol or become a sheriff’s deputy. Job duties will vary a great deal depending on the department; being a big-city police officer is very different from working in a small town. Police officers and others in similar law enforcement positions may do everything from giving traffic tickets to responding to calls about serious crimes.
Police officers and others who work in law enforcement can advance to the position of detective or investigator. Rather than patrolling, detectives within police departments tend to have specific areas of focus from burglary to homicide to sex crimes that they are responsible for investigating. This is the sort of position many people see on television and in movies that makes them interested in the field in the first place.
A criminal justice major who is interested in investigation but works better independently may want to look into becoming a private detective. This position is actually less glamorous than movies and books lead many people to believe. Private detectives may spend a good deal of their time investigating spouses suspected of cheating or looking into insurance fraud. Computer crime is another fast-growing area.
Probation officer is another popular choice. A probation officer works with people recently released from incarceration or who are serving a probationary sentence. These people meet regularly with their probation officer to ensure that the terms of release are being met.
Some criminal justice graduates may become corrections officers working in prisons. Although the general public may think of working as a prison guard as unskilled labor, this is not the case. In fact, federal prisons require either several years of experience or a bachelor’s degree.
The opportunities for careers in criminal justice are many and varied, and the above list covers only a few. Criminal justice majors may go on to be legal assistants, lawyers or journalists among other things. A student may choose to pursue an online criminal justice degree or look into opportunities at criminal justice colleges. An online degree makes it possible for more students to pursue further education while working full-time and keeping up with other responsibilities. Online degrees can prepare students for jobs in criminal justice just as well as degrees from brick-and-mortar colleges, and students who for some reason cannot attend traditional college classes should consider them a viable alternative.
You may also want to check out our article “What Kind of Jobs Are Available For A Person With A Criminal Justice Degree?” or Criminal Justice Careers: A Guide.