Over the last decade, the United States has seen a shift in the perception of law enforcement. In recent years of mass shootings and tragedies, we have relied on brave first responders to step in, step up, and help. During the social justice protests of 2020, many also called for police reform, training, and greater awareness in communities. These events have underlined the need for qualified, trained, and ethical professionals to protect and serve.
If you have been considering a career in criminal justice, you may be weighing your options to determine if this is the right path for you. You may have family members who have served on the local police force. Perhaps you feel called to help inmates in the corrections system. Or, maybe you have dreams of serving justice in courtrooms, or protecting your community in some way. Whatever your reason, you may be feeling beckoned to this line of work. Still, it can be nerve-wracking to make the decision. How do you know if criminal justice or law enforcement is right for you? Read on, as we break down some of the tell-tale signs you should enroll in a criminal justice program.
- You are persistent and good at problem-solving.
If you are the one who others look to when it comes time to solve a problem, you may be right for a career in criminal justice. When your friend got into a jam back in college, you would be the one they would contact. You might be the one who can figure out how to break bad news to a loved one. You might even be the one your friends turn to when they need relationship advice. Working through problems and figuring out the best approach is your specialty. This a key quality for any police officer or other member of the criminal justice system.
Police are confronted with problems every day. They are consistently working with the community toward making the streets a safer place, and persistently fight to better the situation for everyone. This requires perseverance, diligence, and the ability to overcome hurdles along the way.
- You have a desire to protect others in need.
Much like your ability to solve problems, those who work in criminal justice will have the desire to help those in need. When you see a person trip and fall over a crack in the sidewalk, you help them stand back up. You do not walk by and scoff, and you do not pretend to not see their struggle. You are compassionate, but also empathetic. If you have a simple desire to help and be of service, you may be perfect for a role in criminal justice.
Finding a criminal justice program can be the first step in launching the career you are meant to pursue. A criminal justice school, like Goodwin University, can help you harness this amazing desire – to protect and serve those in need – and turn it into a successful career.
- You are not afraid of conflict.
Working in criminal justice is not always as dramatic as it seems on TV or in movies, but that doesn’t mean professionals in this field don’t deal with their fair share of conflict. Whether you become a local police officer, a security guard, or work in corrections and deal with inmates at a prison, you will be faced with conflict from time to time.
If you are a person who does not shy away from conflict, you may be right for a career in criminal justice. If you don’t struggle to confront a waiter with your order, or you have no problem asking your friend to finally pay her share of the rent, you just may have the mental strength required to work in criminal justice.
- You are a strong communicator and work well on a team.
If you already have strong communication skills and can work well on a team, you may have a future in criminal justice. Those who pursue a criminal justice program should know that communication is an essential skill of the job. Working with others is a part of the day-to-day. Police officers, for example, must interview witnesses, suspects, and victims on a regular basis. Oftentimes, the people that police officers deal with are combative or disabled in some capacity. This makes communication that much more important.
Your interpersonal and communication skills may be even better than you realize. If you know how to read people, that is another tell-tale sign that you are right for the field of criminal justice. A big part of communication is those non-verbal cues, particularly when dealing with those who cannot speak or speak another language.
Working well with others is another tell-tale sign of a strong criminal justice candidate. If you participated in sports growing up, you already have some of these highly valuable skills. Regardless, these skills are only improved with a criminal justice program.
- You are curious and love to investigate issues.
If you have a curious mind and find yourself asking a lot of questions in conversation, you may have the right kind of brain that is required for criminal justice. Asking questions is not just a skill needed for journalists. Professionals in the criminal justice field must always be looking for answers and information, as it can help them solve a case or get someone to safety. In these instances, curiosity can be a life-saving skill.
- You have a strong sense of empathy.
As noted above, it is important to have a deep sense of empathy when working in criminal justice. If you have a desire to help others, then you likely already have compassion for your fellow man. The best criminal justice professionals want to work with others – both criminals and victims – in order to make their community a better place.
Having empathy is important because it allows you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from a different point of view. When you have that empathy, you can step back, get some perspective, and work through a problem with a level head – without jumping to conclusions or judging someone too quickly.
- You are interested in careers in investigation, corrections, law enforcement, or courts.
Of course, before you do anything, you must know that you have an interest in criminal justice. Have you ever watched a police officer in action during a movie and thought, “I could do that.” Have you ever seen yourself working in a courtroom, helping bring justice to innocent victims? Can you picture yourself working with inmates, helping to rehabilitate them, or keep order within the prison system? If so, you may be meant for a role in the criminal justice field.
Getting Started in Criminal Justice
If you read this list and thought, ‘I have all of these skills and qualities,’ then you may be meant to work in criminal justice. If you are ready to pursue a criminal justice degree, then it may be time to jumpstart your career today. Reach out to Goodwin University. Call us at 800-889-3282, or visit us online to request more information.
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.