Inside Criminal Justice Careers

Insider tips you need to know to choose and succeed in the right career

Criminal Justice Careers

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Correctional Officer
Police Officer

Career Background

  Criminal Justice Salaries

Surprising and Helpful Information

Detailed info from people on the job

Examples of likes and dislikes:


"seeing so much of what goes on behind the scenes of crime stories in news headlines."


"bearing witness to the suffering, confusion, and hopelessness felt by some individuals caught up in the criminal justice system."

Career Overview

Public safety and security issues in today's world have created a growing interest in criminal justice careers. A broad term covering the protection and welfare of citizens as well as the whole criminal process, criminal justice careers can be found for individuals at many levels and interests, from police work to those interested in working for homeland security or the FBI, to forensic science and crime labs. Professionals may work in the private sector as well as in government jobs working for local, state, and federal law enforcement, courts, and corrections. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities in careers such as police and detectives, correctional officers, and security officers is expected to be favorable for the period between 2008 and 2018.

Career Skills

Careers in criminal justice tend to attract individuals that like working with people and want to improve our communities. Skills vary by profession, from physical stamina requirements in many law enforcement positions, to science and computer skills in forensic work, to good communication and people skills in corrections work. Generally, individuals should have sound judgment and integrity, with respect for the law. Many jobs require background checks and security clearances.

Career Options

A variety of occupations are available to criminal justice professionals of all levels. The following are some examples of criminal justice careers:

  • Corrections officers, also referred to as detention officers, guard inmates who have been arrested and are in local, state, and federal prisons. In addition to maintaining security within the institution, corrections officers also counsel individuals on prison rules and listen to inmate complaints and needs.
  • Probation officers are responsible for monitoring convicts who have been placed on probation. Also referred to as community supervision officers, they counsel offenders to prevent them from committing more crimes, creating rehabilitation plans and maintaining regular contact with them and their families.
  • Police officers protect property and the lives of citizens. Duties of a police officer include pursuing and apprehending individuals who break the law, patrolling their jurisdictions, investigating any suspicious activity, and responding to distress calls. Daily responsibilities vary depending on the specialty.
  • Forensic scientists help solve crimes by analyzing physical evidence found on a victim or at the crime scene, including blood, fingerprints, and saliva. They also write findings reports and may testify in court to discuss the evidence to help determine if an accused person is guilty or innocent. Individuals interested in a forensic science career generally have a science background.


While educational requirements vary for different occupations, criminal justice jobs generally require an applicant to have earned a high school diploma, with most requiring some college coursework. Most government agencies require job applicants to have a bachelorís degree, and many colleges and universities offering programs leading to law enforcement and criminal justice degrees. In addition, many individuals are choosing to obtain a graduate degree in criminal justice or a related field such as public administration, law, or a behavioral or social science. Entry-level applicants for many criminal justice jobs usually have a period of training, such as in a police academy.