When many people think about a career in criminal justice, they think of police officers. Police officers protect and serve our communities. They are specially trained to enforce laws, conduct investigations, detain offenders, maintain safety, and respond to crises. They are important figures within the criminal justice system; however, they are not the only ones. There are many rewarding criminal justice jobs that do not involve policing and that do not require police training.
When is Police Academy Training Required?
Law enforcement officers are typically trained in a local police academy. While requirements vary by state, most police officers, deputy sheriffs, and state troopers need to attend police academy training in their early careers. For example, the state of Connecticut requires entry-level police officers to complete a Basic Training Program at the Connecticut Police Academy or a state-approved Academy. Some states, however, allow officers to waive the academy training if they have sufficient on-the-job experience or education.
The police academy training is designed to prepare prospective officers for the demands of the job. It involves a series of educational modules and rigorous exercises, along with tests and screenings to ensure officers are ready for the field. For example, there are physical fitness tests, medical and emotional screenings, and skills development training in areas like investigation, report writing, arrests, weapon control, and more. The average length of the police academy is about 833 hours, and takes around six months to complete. Many police officers complete their police academy training in tandem with a criminal justice degree, in efforts to advance their career opportunities in the field.
While police academy training is required for police officers, it is not required for all criminal justice jobs. If you are considering (or already working towards) a criminal justice degree, you may not wish to spend another six months in a training program after graduation.
Rest assured you have many options – and exciting ones, nonetheless.
5 Criminal Justice Careers that Don’t Require Police Training
1. Private Investigator
Private investigators are responsible for researching and examining persons (or organizations) of interest. In other words, these professionals investigate suspects and collect evidence of criminal behavior. However, rather than working for a police department, private investigators are hired by clients or law enforcement agencies for independent cases. They gather, analyze, and report information around the person or place in question. For example, private investigators may be hired by companies to uncover wrongful acts of employees, or conduct background investigations. They may be hired by a client to privately investigate a cold case that was closed by local officials. They may also be hired by families to find a missing person, or to reveal abusive behavior or the infidelity of a spouse. These are just some of the many examples in which a private detective or investigator is required. And this role does not require police training.
To become a private investigator, one must typically complete their high school diploma and complete a postsecondary program in a related field, such as criminal justice. Many private detectives learn through on-the-job training, as well. However, specific requirements will vary by state and employer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most states require private detectives and investigators to have a license.
2. Probation or Parole Officer
Probation and parole officers work with law offenders to assist in their rehabilitation and reintegration to society. Their job responsibilities vary by title, but the requirements land each career are similar. Probation officers supervise people who have been placed on probation instead of being sent to prison. Parole officers work with those who are leaving prison and re-entering society on early and conditional release. Both types of officers help to assure both parolees and probationers are not threats to their communities. They help them rehabilitate and find a place in society, by visiting the offenders frequently, connecting them with community resources (like mental health counseling or job training), and monitoring their progress.
To become a parole officer or probation officer, one typically needs a bachelor’s degree in a related field, like criminal justice or public safety and security. Upon entering a job, most probation and parole officers will receive training. Some states sponsor training programs for these officers which leads to certification. Most employers also require candidates to pass drug tests, competency exams, and criminal background checks.
3. Crime or Intelligence Analyst
Crime analysts, also called intelligence analysts, are critical to the criminal justice field. These professionals gather evidence through surveillance, computer forensics, and other intelligence networks, in efforts to predict and prevent crimes. For example, intelligence analysts can be found monitoring technology to detect signs of money laundering, identify theft, fraud, and security breaches. Their goal is to identify patterns that might lead to crime, and stop it in its tracks.
Crime and intelligence analysts do not need to go through the rigors of police training. However, they are typically required to hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as computer science or criminal justice. Some workers, however, can enter the field with postsecondary training and on-the-job experience, according to the BLS.
4. Park Ranger
Park rangers oversee state and national parks, helping to conserve and protect these natural environments. They can be found patrolling trails, removing debris from wildlife, providing information to hikers, and enforcing the rules of conduct within the park. They may also respond to accidents within the park, provide first aid when needed, administer animal rescue and care, and help conduct search and rescue investigations,
Park rangers do not typically require any academy training. However, employers do look for candidates with a college degree in a related field, such as environmental science, park management, and criminal justice. The specific degree requirements will vary by employer and occupation. Some may require a bachelor’s degree, while others may simply require courses in related fields.
5. Security Guard
Security guards are employed by organizations to protect people, property, and/or places. They can be found patrolling properties, monitoring video-surveillance systems, responding to alarms, controlling building access, writing observation reports, and deterring criminal activity. They may work in any environment in which assets and/or people need to be protected. They may safeguard financial assets at a bank, precious artifacts at a museum, students at a high school or university, employees at a high-profile company, or even celebrities.
They may also serve as security reinforcement at places where criminal behavior is common, such as casinos, hotels, and riverboats.
Security guards typically receive their high school diploma and on-the-job training before launching their full-time careers. However, some employers require a college education. Those who carry firearms are typically provided with more in-depth training and mandated to receive licensure. All security guards can benefit from criminal justice training in order to effectively prepare for a long-term career in the field.
Go Beyond Police Training
While police officers are an essential and vital asset in our communities, the job is not always right for everyone. If you have an interest in criminal justice, but do not wish to pursue the physical demands of the police academy, or simply prefer a more behind-the-scenes role, you still have many options. These are just some of the many examples of criminal justice careers that do not require police academy training.
If you would like to learn more about your criminal justice career options, or about pursuing a degree in criminal justice, you can always reach out to Goodwin University for information and advice. Goodwin is a leading criminal justice school in Connecticut, preparing students for careers in law enforcement, corrections, public safety, courts systems, and more. We can help you prepare for a career you love.
Learn about our criminal justice programs here, or call 800-889-3282 to learn more.