Most criminal justice careers you may be considering will require you to complete a series of college-level courses in order to learn the necessary skills to work in the field of criminal justice. In fact, many criminal justice careers not only will require you to take courses, but also will require you to complete an intensive training program at a police academy or another location to hone further your physical and mental skills. Nonetheless, before an individual even walks into the door of a criminal justice program or police academy, he or she must possess certain qualities. In order to make sure that you have the necessary skills, you may wish to familiarize yourself with some of major qualities a good criminal justice professional should have.
- The first quality a good criminal justice professional should have is the ability to handle stress. Criminal justice professional regularly must handle difficult people in difficult situations. In fact, a criminal justice professional typically will have to deal with dangerous criminals, drunken and disorderly individuals, emergencies in which an individual may need immediate rescue, and a variety of other individuals and situations. A career in criminal justice can be extremely stressful because a criminal justice professional has to deal not only with the danger of his or her profession, but also with the knowledge that horrible things happen to ordinary people every day.
- The second quality that a good criminal justice professional should have is a reasonable amount of physical fitness. Criminal justice professionals, especially those in law enforcement, regularly will be required to run, climb, jump, and perform a variety of other physical tasks in order to catch criminals or prevent criminals from escaping. With so much physical activity in a criminal justice career, you have to be prepared physically in order to perform the activities required of you. In fact, most police departments or federal agencies you may be considering will require you to complete a physical ability test before you begin your career, in order to prove that you have the necessary physical skills for a criminal justice career.
- The third quality a good criminal justice professional should have is an ethically sound view of the role he or she plays in the criminal justice system. Since a criminal justice professional typically has a great deal of power, it is essential for a criminal justice professional to understand appropriate use of that power and abuse of that power. In other words, a criminal justice program may teach you the basic code of ethics to which you must adhere as a criminal justice professional, but you have to use your own moral compass actually to understand and apply that code.
- The fourth quality a good criminal justice professional should have is good computer and technical skills. A criminal justice professional will have to use computers and other devices to check an individual’s criminal record, to match evidence with potential suspects, to research a suspect’s financial records and holdings, to restore digital or audio recordings, and to perform a variety of other tasks. As a result, you will need to understand how to use these computers and other devices in order to perform the tasks necessary for your field.
- Finally, a good criminal justice professional should have the ability to think quickly. The ability to think quickly is essential for an individual in the criminal justice field, because a criminal justice professional has to react to accidents, court testimony that may allow a criminal to go free, dangerous criminals, dangerous substances, and other threats as soon as they arise. As a result, you must be able to look at a situation and determine the appropriate course of action within minutes, or in many cases, within seconds.