Criminal justice is an impactful, out-of-the-box field where you can make a difference. On daily basis, criminal justice professionals work hard to protect the communities in which they serve. Law enforcement officers, criminal investigators, government agents, prison guards, and courts officials are just some examples of the many dedicated careers that make-up our criminal justice system. Of course, as exciting as this field is, working in criminal justice can be challenging and demanding at times. This important work requires specific skills, qualities, and training to excel at the job. If you are interested in becoming a protector, you may be wondering which criminal justice skills you need to check off first.
In the criminal justice field, it will be your job to watch over and guard those in need. As a result, you should be someone who thrives in an environment that allows you to take action and make effective decisions. Always cool under pressure and in a crisis, you need to have the courage to take charge of a situation. Ultimately, you’ll need more than gut feelings. You’ll need to be able to engage in critical thinking, enact problem-solving skills, and make moral and ethical judgments in times of need. These skills can be provided by years of experience and also informed by your criminal justice training.
Of course, the specific criminal justice skills you’ll need will depend on your career path. Those working in a corrections facility, for example, may require different skills than a cybercrime investigator or Drug Enforcement Agent. While technical requirements vary by role, there are common soft skills that every criminal justice professional should have before jumping into their career. There are also versatile, “nice-to-have” technical skills that can be applied to most every criminal justice role. We explore the top examples of criminal justice skills below.
Soft Skills in Criminal Justice
- Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving – As you know, criminal justice professionals at all spectrums of the field are often put in fast-paced environments or complicated situations in which they need to think on their feet. Therefore, critical thinking and problem-solving play a big role in this line of work. You need to be able to assess situations, solve conflicts, and take action in a quickly and calmly manner.
- Effective and Ethical Decision-Making – Supplementing the skills above, criminal justice professionals must be able to make decisions quickly and effectively during times of need. However, ethics also play a big part in how these decisions are made. In this field, you must understand the difference between right and wrong, and protect the community from wrongful actions that could cause harm. Ethics will also help you navigate contemporary issues in criminal justice, such as how racial inequities, out-of-date policies, and socioeconomic challenges are contributing to increased crime.
- Leadership – When working in criminal justice, you are leading your community to safety. You are leading others to justice, or leading teams to solve crimes. No matter where you work in the field, leadership skills can be a significant asset in making an impact in your role. Leadership skills will enable you to serve as a mentor and role model for others, as well as allow you to advance your job to greater seniority and pay potential.
- Communication – Both written and verbal communication skills are needed in the criminal justice field. Writing legal documents, communicating details of a scene, or speaking with victims and suspects requires one to be articulate in both their writing and presentation.
- Public Speaking – Along with verbal communication skills, public speaking skills are a plus for criminal justice professionals. Often, police officers, detectives, courts officials, and other criminal justice specialists need to speak in front of large audiences or groups of reporters.
- Active Listening and Learning – Part of good communication means listening to others well. Criminal justice professionals, whether they work in courts, corrections, or law enforcement, must be able to listen to others in order to gather information, understand perspectives, follow complex arguments, or counseling someone in need.
- Observation – Great criminal justice professionals are detail-oriented, and they pay attention to the details. They observe seemingly “little things” that can later play a major role in solving a crime. Whether you are an investigator, a career focused around observational skills, or a court justice, the observation of situations will be an essential component to your work.
- Integrity and Empathy – In the end, it is highly important for criminal justice professionals to have integrity and empathy behind the work that they do. You must have a good character and the ability to stand up for what is right. The call for criminal justice reform we’ve been experiencing in recent years is, simultaneously, a call for integrity and understanding among our officers. As you enter the field, you can be a difference-maker by having a strong moral character and being empathetic to others’ situations. These qualities can help you connect with your community and become an honorable figure among those you serve.
Technical Skills in Criminal Justice
- Research – In every role, criminal justice workers need to know how to conduct research. This might involve researching crime data, assessing criminal trends, accessing legal documents, creating charts for presentations, interpreting social science statistics, analyzing public policy, or studying the impact of criminal reform.
- Interviewing and Interrogation – Many professionals within the criminal justice field can benefit from having interview skills under their belts. Whether you are a detective, police officer, fire science investigator, or court judge, you will likely need to ask questions (and sometimes interrogate) to criminals, suspects, witnesses, and victims of crime. This requires practice, planning, and technique that you can learn in a criminal justice program.
- Computer Literacy – In nearly every role, you will also be working with technology. You may need to input information into a database, or use these systems to gather information about a case you are working on. With the increase in cybercrime, more employers are also seeking criminal justice professionals with computer skills.
- Report Writing – Report writing is a key skill to have in this field, as criminal justice professionals are often required to document their findings, describe persons and property, create search warrants, develop arrest reports, and take notes on the scene or in the courtroom. Due to the versatility of this practice, you will be expected to take a report writing course in part with your criminal justice degree. Learn more here.
Criminal Justice Skills Development
Among the countless skills required, all criminal justice professionals need to be strong communicators, effective observers, collected decision-makers, and true leaders in their communities, with a solid foundation of ethics and moral values. In addition, you must understand the latest technologies, interview techniques, research strategies, combined with a general knowledge of the criminal justice system. While some of these skills may come naturally, many can be learned in a criminal justice program.
Goodwin University offers fascinating criminal justice courses and a myriad of criminal justice internship opportunities to enhance your training in the field. Whether you are seeking a two-year degree program, or a bachelor’s degree, there are programs you can pursue to advance your criminal justice skills and land a successful career in Connecticut. Learn more by clicking the links below!
Criminal justice professionals are in demand, and the need for criminal justice professionals will never go away. These specialists are the people who help to keep our streets, our businesses, and our greater welfare safe. Without them, without people like you, where would we be?
Learn more about Goodwin University’s criminal justice programs, and see how you can get into the field through one of our flexible degree programs. Call 800-889-3282 or request more information online.
Goodwin University 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 University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.