What It Is

A criminal justice certification is a document that indicates that you have the skills necessary to work in a specific area of the criminal justice field or that you know more about a particular area of the criminal justice field than the average criminal justice professional. In other words, a criminal justice certification is a document that proves that you have the skills or knowledge necessary to perform a specific set of tasks. These certifications can be extremely helpful if you are pursuing a career in the criminal justice field, and you may be required to obtain these certifications for certain careers. You will have to follow a series of steps in order to obtain a criminal justice certification.

  • First, you should determine whether you actually need the certification that you are pursuing. While this step might seem obvious, it is important because some certifications may be required for a specific position while other certifications may not be required. In fact, you typically will be required to obtain some sort of certification or license in order to perform the duties of a corrections officer, a criminal psychologist, a lawyer, a police officer, a private detective, a probations officer, or a similar type of criminal justice professional. Unfortunately, each of the criminal justice careers you are considering will require different certifications, and the specific certifications required for each career may vary from state to state and agency to agency. It can be difficult to determine whether a particular certification is required for a particular career. However, you typically will be able to obtain a list of the certifications required for a particular position from the department or agency to which you plan to apply.
  • Next, you will need to complete the courses required for certification. Most of the certifications you will be required to obtain will feature some sort of education component, and you may be required to complete anywhere from a single course to an entire bachelor’s degree program in order to earn some of the certifications you may be required to have. The third step that you typically will have to take in order to obtain your certification is to obtain the appropriate amount of experience. Some of the certifications you will pursue will include an experience requirement, and you may have to earn anywhere from one to five years of experience in a position related to law enforcement or another area of the criminal justice field in order to earn the necessary certifications.
  • Next, you may have to complete a training requirement. Some certifications require you to complete a training program at a federal law enforcement academy, a police academy, or a similar institution before you apply for the certification. Finally, in order to obtain your certification, you likely will have to complete the appropriate written certification or practical proficiency tests.
  • Finally, in order to obtain the certification, you must file an application with the appropriate certification organization. A number of organizations offer criminal justice certifications, but many required certifications can be obtained through the agency or department in which you work.