Criminal Justice Careers
Most likely you already know that the field of criminal justice has something to do with police officers arresting criminals and detectives carrying out investigations. However, you still may wonder what criminal justice really entails and what individuals in the field of criminal justice actually do.
- The field of criminal justice is a social science discipline in which individuals attempt to learn more about crimes that criminals commit, the methods law enforcement professionals use to track down and arrest criminals, and the methods the court system uses to prosecute criminals in an efficient, effective, and fair manner.
- As a result, both arresting criminals and carrying out investigations constitute important activities in the field of criminal justice, but these tasks are not the only actions a criminal justice professional may carry out as a requirement of his or her job. In fact, not only might an individual in the field of criminal justice be required to carry out a number of different activities - in addition, such an individual might pursue a number of different careers.
- In other words, the field of criminal justice not only deals with the activities of detectives and police officers, it also deals with the activities of forensic scientists, lawyers, and other law enforcement professionals.
As a result, the field of criminal justice plays an extremely important role in our ability to maintain order and protect an individual's rights, because this discipline that trains professionals to arrest and convict individuals without violating their personal rights. Given the complexities of the criminal justice field, you may wish to know a few things about the criminal justice field prior to pursuing a career path.
First, you may not necessarily have to help the courts convict someone while you work in the field. In fact, some criminal justice careers actually may require you to defend an individual t accused of a crime rather than working to convict the accused person. Accordingly, accused individuals may need attorneys, forensic scientists, private detectives, and other professionals to gather evidence or present evidence to the jury regarding the individual's innocence. At the very least, such persons might be called upon to convince the jury of reasonable doubt as to whether the accused person committed the crime.
Another thing you should know about the field of criminal justice is that you typically will need a degree in order to obtain a career in the criminal justice field. However, the specific degree you will need may vary from career to career. Most careers in the criminal justice field will require you to obtain an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree, a master's degree, or a doctorate degree in criminology (a field that focuses on crimes individuals commit and the reason they commit those crimes), criminal justice, law, or another field before you pursue a position.
Finally, you should know that within the field of criminal justice, some careers might require you obtain more than a degree. Some of these additional requirements might include certifications, completing a training program at a police academy or another institution, or fulfill other requirements before you begin working.
Advantages of Criminal Justice Careers
A criminal justice career can have a number of different advantages that might draw people to the criminal justice field. In fact, many people seek out criminal justice careers to help people, to stop criminals from committing crimes, to stop criminals from getting away with the crimes that they have committed, to take advantage of the variety of job opportunities the field offers, or to take advantage of a number of other benefits. It is important to note, however, that the field of criminal justice, like most fields, is not without its drawbacks. For this reason, interested individuals should determine if the advantages of a criminal justice career actually outweigh the disadvantages. In other words, in order for you to determine whether a criminal justice career is the right career for you, you may want to know a little more about some of the field's advantages.
- First, a criminal justice career will allow you to help injured or endangered people. In many situations, a criminal justice professional might be able to rescue an individual who is hurt or trapped, or help protect an individual from persons wishing to do him or her harm. For this reason, pursuing a career in the field of criminal justice can be extremely rewarding if you enjoy helping other people.
- Another advantage of pursuing a career criminal justice concerns the vast number of different job possibilities for individuals in the field. While there is never a shortage of crime, there is always a shortage of individuals willing to work to stop this crime. As a result, individuals interested in the criminal justice field not only will have a number of different criminal justice careers from which to choose, but also typically will have a number of positions within each of these careers from which to choose.
- The third advantage of a criminal justice career is that it will allow you to perform a variety of different tasks. Many different situations require the help of a criminal justice professional, and each of these situations may require a professional to perform different tasks. As a result, a career in the field of criminal justice rarely is boring because the situations you encounter and activities you perform will change from day-to-day.
- Finally, a career in criminal justice will allow you to work with people. Criminal justice professionals regularly are required to discuss legal issues with individuals, talk to individuals who have been injured or trapped to assure their safety, talk to individuals to diffuse disputes that might otherwise turn violent, and work with people in a number of other ways. In fact, criminal justice professionals not only are required to work with the victims and private citizens they serve, but these professionals also are required to work closely with forensic examiners, federal agents, police officers, prosecutors, and a variety of other individuals to find, arrest, and convict the criminals that these professionals are attempting to bring to justice. A career in the field of criminal justice may be a good career for you if you enjoy working with people.
Disadvantages of Criminal Justice Careers
Even if you are thinking about pursuing a career in the field of criminal justice, it is important to remember that a criminal justice career isn't necessarily the career for everyone. While a criminal justice career can be extremely rewarding, it also can be extremely depressing, stressful, and time-consuming. For these reasons, individuals interested in criminal justice careers should recognize that such a career—like any career—is not without its drawbacks. It is important to examine the advantages and disadvantages of a criminal justice career in order to determine whether those advantages actually outweigh the disadvantages. In other words, in order for you to determine whether a criminal justice career is the right career for you, you may want to know a little more about some of the disadvantages of a criminal justice career.
- One of the biggest disadvantages of a criminal justice career concerns pay rates. The pay you will receive for working in a criminal justice career can vary drastically from area to area. This is an important disadvantage to keep in mind, because some criminal justice professionals will obtain only low salaries in certain areas. In fact, the average criminal justice professional typically will earn somewhere between $30,000 and $80,000 a year, but some individuals may earn as little as $20,000 a year depending on the area in which they work. In other words, in certain areas, you might put your life on the line for a job that pays you the same wage as that of a retail store clerk in that same geographic area.
- In addition to the disadvantage related to earnings, a career in criminal justice can be physically demanding and very stressful. As such, criminal justice professionals often chase criminals, interact with dangerous or violent individuals, rescue individuals from situations that may put both the rescuer and the rescuee at risk, and perform a variety of similar actions that can prove quite stressful on an individual's mind and body. As a result, if you are considering a career in criminal justice, you must be prepared both mentally and physically, for the stress you will encounter on the job as a criminal justice professional.
- The typically long hours required of persons in criminal justice careers make up another disadvantage particular to this field. Most of the criminal justice careers you can pursue will require you to work at least 40 hours a week, and you may be required to work these hours at any time of the day or night. In fact, some criminal justice professionals may have to work over 60 hours a week, and these individuals may be required to work weekends and holidays on a regular basis. If you are looking for a typical “9 to 5” kind of job, you may wish to look for a different kind of career.
- Finally, a career in the field of criminal justice can be extremely depressing and discouraging, because criminal justice professionals experience constant exposure to many of the horrible things people do to themselves or to other people. In other words, a criminal justice professional has to deal with death, people who are drunk and disorderly or simply out of control, people who have neglected their children, people who have committed violent crimes, and all of the other unpleasant aspects of life. If you decide to pursue a career in the field of criminal justice, you may have to deal with all of the depravity that our society has to offer.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013