The reason I like the criminal justice system is there aren’t Republican or Democrat victims or police officers or prosecutors. It’s about respect for the rule of law!
CRIMINAL JUSTICE CAREERS CAN BE FULFILLING, BUT DON’T FALL VICTIM TO PURSUING WHAT YOU SEE ON TV
Criminal justice is a rewarding career for all involved. And if your interest was piqued by a television show, the more power to it. But before you start pursuing an associate or bachelor degree, it might be useful to know that not all of your job assignments will look like an NCIS episode.
- Detectives & Private Investigators
What you do: Find and analyze facts about personal, financial and legal information through interviews, surveillance, and research. Can work independently, for the federal government or institution, or for a business.
What you do not do: Constantly investigate murders, always figure out the case in a 40-minute block of time, and go into this career if you are OCD or afraid of germs.
- Police Officers
What you do: Patrol traffic, responds to disturbances and emergencies, investigate crimes and suspicious/hazardous people or areas, serve warrants and subpoenas, write reports, testify in court, and, above all, uphold the law.
What you do not do: Eat lots of donuts, play jokes on people you pull over by repeating the word “meow” instead of “now,” and you certainly won’t always have an exciting case to work on unless your city warrants it.
- Forensic Scientist
What you do: Choose or receive facts or items of evidence that are relevant to a case, decide which tests are appropriate, perform tests accurately, keep detailed, unbiased notes, interpret the results and write a clear report, and testify as an expert witness.
What you do not do: Use your lab to look up your arch-nemesis, work in a high-tech lab equipped with tons of super-computers, or go on investigations yourself.
If you’re still gung ho about pursuing criminal justice, know that a 4-year degree isn’t always necessary (while an associate degree is becoming required more and more) — but it is beneficial. With the rise of technology, there are more reasons to have higher education to prepare for technologic problems you may face in the future. While you’re in school, you can gain the experience that will be always required of you through internships and job shadows. And having a bachelor degree could set you apart from the competition in this ever-growing, resilient field.