There is a variety to the career options available to the criminal justice degree holder that you wouldn’t expect. The entire criminal justice system has professionals educated in this field, and the professions range from counseling services to prison guard. In most states criminal justice programs have contact with lawbreakers and alleged lawbreakers that combines incarceration with rehabilitation. The career opportunities are extremely diverse.
Corrections officers. These individuals act as prison guards for the most part; in some instances they are responsible for the transportation of incarcerated individuals to and from court appearances. Many corrections officers are hired having obtained an associate’s degree, and some veterans with MP experience are hired with no college experience. However a corrections officer interested in moving up the criminal justice professional ladder should consider obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
Bailiffs. A bailiff is responsible for keeping order in county and municipal courtrooms and for shuttling defendants in and out of the courtroom. Often bailiff services are provided by a county sheriff’s department. In some sheriff’s departments the bailiff and jail employees are a separate division with lower educational requirements. An associate’s degree is often sufficient for this position.
Police and Sheriff’s Department Law Enforcement Officers. The traditional benchmark for a police officer or a county sheriff with patrol responsibilities has been experience in the field or some college training. Today law enforcement departments are increasingly looking for patrol officers with bachelor’s degrees, for a couple of reasons. Criminal justice degrees provide a little deeper perspective on the situations and individuals encountered during the course of the job, and officers with a completed bachelor’s degree tend to make better presentations in court.
Parole and Probation Officers. Today the majority of probation and parole professionals hold master’s degrees in criminal justice, in psychology, or in counseling of some sort. The criminal justice background is prevalent however, because a probation or parole officer must manage their case load with an eye to the legal implications for various behavioral issues.
Federal Law Enforcement. Within the Department of Homeland Security today the law enforcement divisions include the FBI, the Secret Service, Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Bureau, the Border Patrol, National Park Police and several other smaller organizations. All of them have varying educational requirements; many FBI agents have law or accounting degrees, while Secret Service agents charged with investigating fraud often hold degrees in forensic accounting or computer forensics. In many of these agencies however, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice will be enough for an interview.
Bob Hartzell writes on careers for GetDegrees.com. On the website you’ll find comprehensive information on criminal justice degrees as well as resources on educational opportunities for hundreds of other professions.