Criminal justice encompasses a wide range of careers in law enforcement and corrections.
Education requirements for these fields vary according to state and locality, but some bachelor’s degree as a minimum for an entry-level position. Many criminal justice agencies also have age requirements for entry-level positions. For example, it is not unusual for police departments to consider only those applicants 21 years of age or over.
Many jurisdictions also require attendance at specialized schools such as police academies. Advancement in these careers requires additional education, experience, and test scores.
Job opportunities throughout the criminal justice field are generally favorable at the entry level. Jobs become more competitive at higher levels.
Persons who work in law enforcement include police officers, detectives, sheriffs, and deputies. There are a variety of positions and responsibilities within each of these areas. Employers are localities, counties, and states, as well as federal agencies that focus on preventing and investigating criminal activity. These include the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Department of Homeland Security. In addition, most state and federal agencies have an investigative department or bureau to oversee security issues.
Job opportunities in most local police departments are expected to be favorable for qualified individuals although some localities are freezing or restricting new hires. More competition can be expected for jobs in State and Federal agencies, where students with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice may have an advantage. Employment growth is expected to be about average compared to overall job growth, particularly in border control and drug interdiction efforts.
Other criminal justice careers include private investigators (PIs), gaming surveillance officers, and security guards. Candidates who hold an associate degree in criminal justice bring a competitive edge to enter this market.
Some PIs are self-employed while others work for private security firms, financial institutions, and other businesses that handle sensitive information. Keen competition is expected for these types of jobs because they attract many qualified people, including relatively young retirees from law enforcement and military careers. The best opportunities for new jobseekers are in entry-level jobs in detective agencies. Opportunities are expected to be favorable for qualified computer forensic investigators.
Gaming surveillance officers work in casinos and cooperate with local police on official investigations. Private security guards are employed by agencies or directly by corporations. Opportunities in these fields should be favorable, although there is more competition for higher paying-jobs. Numerous job openings will stem from faster than average employment growth driven by the demand for increased security, and to replace turnover.
Corrections positions include security guards, treatment specialists, social workers, and parole and probation officers. Contracted professionals from the medical, dental, psychiatric, and education fields provide additional services and support. Employers include large cities, counties, states, and the federal Bureau of Prisons. Several states contract with private corporations to manage their prisons.
Employment of probation and parole officers and correctional treatment specialists is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2018. Job opportunities are expected to be excellent.
Anthem College Online offers Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in Criminal Justice. For more information on our online program, visit our Web site.