From a young age, we are taught to respect the law and those who enforce it. Many kids look up to police officers so much that they wish to become one when they grow up, or will even dress up as cops for Halloween. Police officers are often depicted in movies and TV shows, celebrated in community events, and honored by Americans who appreciate their service on the day-to-day. And it’s easy to see why. A career in law enforcement is a noble and brave choice — But it’s not the only one out there for those interested in criminal justice.
Have you ever watched “Law & Order: SVU” and found yourself more captivated by the forensic science that takes place in the show? Do you dream of being an investigator for the FBI, or working with inmates in a prison facility? Criminal justice careers in Connecticut can vary greatly, and they’re all rewarding and exciting in their own way. The best part is, many of these jobs don’t require several years of college education, and are attainable with a two-year degree (or less). Let’s explore some of the most popular criminal justice associate degree jobs available.
- Corrections Officer
Within prison walls, correctional officers enforce laws and maintain order among inmates. They are responsible for the safety of inmates, protecting them from assault and theft. Corrections officers play an important role in the rehabilitation of prisoners and the mediation of any prisoner disputes.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for correctional officers is $43,510. And while the employment of correctional officers is expected to decline a bit over the next several years, this is a role that will always be needed. While that may seem discouraging to the average law-abiding citizen, it’s encouraging news for those who hold an associate degree in Criminal Justice.
- Crime Scene Technician or Forensic Scientist
Also known as “Forensic Science Technicians,” the role of the Crime Scene Technician is sure to pique the interest of any fans of “The Bone Collector.” This job requires documenting and photographing every aspect of a crime scene, as well as collecting on-scene evidence like fingerprints and blood. The Crime Scene Technician must meticulously preserve all evidence for use in future criminal proceedings.
While many state and federal agencies require Crime Scene Technicians have a bachelor’s degree, some only require an associate degree in Criminal Justice, combined with some field and lab experience.
- Fire Inspectors & Investigators
Anyone who ever fantasized about becoming a law enforcer AND a firefighter might find these career options to be a dream come true! Fire Inspectors and Fire Investigators play very different but equally important roles. A Fire Inspector ensures that people and businesses are complying with state and federal fire codes. They closely examine evacuation plans and facilities to make sure all fire protection equipment is working properly, and report any violations or potential hazards.
While Fire Inspectors are all about prevention, Fire Investigators deal with the aftermath. They collect evidence at the scene of a blaze, interview key witnesses, and analyze data collected from lab testing to determine the cause. Fire Investigators are the ones documenting the scene of a fire, maintaining detailed records and evidence, and testifying in court as needed.
After earning an associate degree, Fire Inspectors and Investigators are usually certified with a national group like the National Fire Protection Association or the National Association of Fire Investigators. These roles pay a median annual salary of about $62,000.
One of the most attractive Criminal Justice associate degree jobs is a legal assistant. Paralegals work with lawyers, helping them prepare for trials, hearings, and other legal circumstances in justice court. They prepare drafts of documents, investigate the details of testimonies, and sometimes serve as research assistants to find laws pertinent to specific cases.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the median yearly salary of a paralegal is over $50,000, but noted that paralegals working for larger private firms can earn significantly more. Competition for great paralegal positions can be intense, but earning an associate degree in Criminal Justice, pursuing certification in the National Association of Legal Assistants, and gaining an internship can easily set you apart from the average applicant.
- Private Investigator
Private detectives and investigators enjoy fascinating careers in a variety of settings. They often work for companies, individuals, lawyers, and companies to uncover the truth. Whether it’s learning about a person’s background, locating those gone missing, or investigating unsolved crimes, there is always a mission and opportunity for the private investigator.
Depending on the particular project, PIs may spend a majority of their time in the field, traveling, doing surveillance, or doing online research and investigating internet crimes.
Most private investigators have some kind of background in criminal justice, and most states require appropriate licensing. The median pay for a PI is $50,709 per year, according to the BLS. Thanks to the ride of identity theft and computer crimes, this position is expected to grow over the coming years.
- Security Officer
You may picture Paul Blart for this one, but a career as a security officer can reach well beyond the setting of a shopping mall. Security officers patrol and monitor safety on college campuses, at banks, and many prestigious colleges, firms, and businesses. They play a crucial role in protecting students, workers, and clients from violence and property damage. They also monitor theft, often using surveillance cameras.
Because the role and setting of a security officer can vary so much, training often does, as well. However, it’s safe to say that an associate degree in Criminal Justice, or even a Bachelor’s degree in Public Safety, can position you for a wide range of security careers. Opportunities in this role are growing as more and more businesses expand and require protection from theft and other dangerous crime.
More Criminal Justice Career Options with Goodwin College
There are many more career opportunities that wait with the Criminal Justice associate degree from Goodwin College. Learn more about Goodwin’s Criminal Justice School in Connecticut. Contact us at 800-889-3282 or visit www.goodwin.edu/learnmore to request more information.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.