Choosing a degree in Criminal Justice can set you down the path to a rewarding, successful career in law enforcement. Learn what career options you will encounter within the criminal justice field.
We often hear children say, “When I grow up, I want to be a police officer.” And for many who are just starting to consider a career in criminal justice, police officers are often the first job title they think of when they think of the field. It is no wonder why. We constantly see police officers featured on our television screens. We see them every day on the streets. We see them on horseback, on motorcycles, on bicycles, in cars and patrolling the sidewalks.
While it is true that police officers make up a great fraction of today’s law enforcement professionals, you should never feel limited to this one career choice. There are countless career options available within the legal system, so long as you have a criminal justice degree.
From FBI to DEA agents, forensic scientists to paralegals, the possibilities for criminal justice students are abundant. There are on-scene and behind-the-scene jobs; there are positions at local, state, and federal levels. With the great range of roles available, you should have no problem choosing a job that fits your unique interests, skills, and talents. Which criminal justice career is right for you?
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular criminal justice careers today.
- DEA Agent – Interested in protecting our communities against illicit drug abuse and drug-trafficking? Joining the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) may be for you. DEA agents enforce drug laws across the United States. They investigate, track, and infiltrate covert drug operations and major drug trafficking organizations. If you choose to become a DEA agent, your chief goal will be to stop dangerous drug traffic in its tracks, before it reaches potential users.
- Forensic Scientist – If you have an analytical and curious mind, a forensic science career may be for you. Forensic scientists are laboratory technicians who work directly with evidence from crime scenes. They collect and process any information that can be used as evidence in court, such as fingerprints, polygraphs, and hair samples. If you choose a career path in forensics, you will have many options surrounding your specialty. You may specialize in drugs, homicide, sexual offenses, arson investigations, child abuse, ballistics, and more.
- Immigration or Customs Agent – There are many roles you can take on when working in Homeland Security. You can become a border agent, an immigration inspector, an immigration agent, or a U.S. customs inspector. Within any of these roles, you will be responsible for protecting more than 8,000 miles of our nation’s borders from illegal contraband or entry. When working in immigration, you will investigate, arrest, and deport individuals who do not have permission to be in the United States. You may also prevent the smuggling of illegal goods past our borders. As a customs agent, you will similarly inspect any cargo entering the country.
- Corrections Officer – Working in the prisons system is another great career option for those studying criminal justice. If you decide to become a corrections officer, you will primarily be responsible for monitoring inmates and maintaining order among inmates in your facility. In this position, you have the option to work at the local, state, or federal level.
Criminal justice is an attractive career choice for natural protectors, so it can be a competitive field. To advance above the competition and achieve the criminal justice career of your dreams, you will have to take the right steps to get there. Earning a degree, pursuing several criminal justice internships, and receiving hands-on job training will give you the skills you need to impress potential employers and progress in the field.