Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

Criminal Justice Jobs that Work to End Disparities in the System

While our criminal justice system is supposed to be the model form of equality and justice, there are many instances in which it strays from these constitutional principles.  One of the greatest controversies within the criminal justice system, one which recently worked its way up to Congress, is that of the different punishments given to crack offenders versus cocaine offenders.  The threshold for each conviction is vastly different, making it a tough case for criminal justice advocates to change through the legislative system.  However, we finally made headway in this change today, through one of the more surprising forums for criminal justice jobs – the legislature. 

Many of us consider criminal justice jobs to revolve mainly around law enforcement positions or criminal defense lawyers.  However, criminal justice can range in stature around the world, and with that range are a multitude of different career options.  Currently, the disparity in convictions for drug users is one that many people have tackled within the criminal justice system.  It is extremely easy to receive a felony conviction if you have a different form of cocaine, a system which was based on the economic status of drug users, as well as their demographics.  Simply looking at the convictions defendants have received based on their drug use is shocking enough, as it tends to prove how biased our system can be – a system that has for years prided itself on its ideals of equality. 

However, with each new generation comes a new outlook on the criminal justice system and new jobs are created as a result of these changes.   The drug war remains an essential part of the criminal justice system, and has produced countless amounts of legislation, court decisions, and sentences for repeat offenders.  However, we have yet to come up with a stable answer for drug offenders and the ease with which drugs are available throughout our country.  Criminal justice jobs work to deliver justice to every defendant in the criminal court system, but sometimes this is difficult considering the background of each offender, and the lifestyle they were brought up in.  It is much easier for a judge to let a suburban kid off the hook for a drug conviction than an urban city kid who he assumes will undoubtedly get arrested again.  This large disparity within our system is one which should no longer be as prevalent as it is.

Hopefully the progress that we are beginning to make will not go to waste and other generations will pick up from where we are leaving off in their own criminal justice jobs. 


Stable Careers in an Unstable Economy

Over the last few years a variety of industries have had to drastically downsize their workforce to stay competitive in the recession, giving recent graduates one of the worst employment outlooks in decades.  With this downturn in the economy, college-age students are increasingly looking toward finding the ‘right’ degree to major in that will lead them to steady employment after graduation.  For many of these students the answer is a degree in criminal justice.  

Criminal justice degrees can prepare you for a wide variety of employment options serving the largely recession-resistant American criminal justice system.  There will likely never be outsourcing of Police Officers or Customs Agents, no matter how bad the economy gets.  Degree options range from a two-year Associates degree all the way to multi-year Doctorate programs.  The Associates degree is usually a minimum requirement for most law enforcement agencies, and is ideal for those looking for the fastest route to employment.  Many options exist to obtain a degree online, enabling many to work while completing their studies.  

If you’d like to continue your studies further, Associate degree credits are often transferable towards a Bachelor degree, further expanding your employment options and promotional eligibility.  Supervisory roles in law enforcement and many governmental agencies usually require a Bachelor degree at the minimum and is a good option to those seeking leadership positions or those wanting a greater variety of employment opportunity should.  

Finally graduate level degrees such a Masters or Doctorate in criminal justice can prepare you for the highest levels of employment in law enforcement and governmental agencies such as Police Captain or FBI agent.  Most Masters Programs require a Bachelor’s degree before admittance and can be completed in about two years.  So for those wanting to advance to the highest levels of criminal justice administration, obtaining a Master’s degree would be a good option.  Doctorate degree programs are typical research-based and usually require a Master’s degree before admittance.  These can typically be completed in another two-years after obtaining a Masters.  Along with preparing you for the highest-level criminal justice administrative positions, a Doctorate degree can also be a ‘stepping stone’ to many Professor positions in colleges and universities. So for those who enjoy teaching along with a passion for criminal justice, completing a Doctorate degree would be a wise decision.

Regardless of the time period in which you want to earn your criminal justice degree (whether it be this year or in the next few years), you can rest assured that a career will be waiting for you.  It would be a surprise if these careers ever became scarce, even in the least populated areas.  


Jobs in the Criminal Justice Field for Recent Graduates

Most long-term careers require decades of experience in order to get anywhere in the specific industry.  As a result, it may take a while to worm your way up the ladder in a corporate industry – criminal justice being no different.  Criminal justice is a field that is constantly changing, and as a result the degree programs are changing at the same rate as any available jobs.  This makes it difficult for most recent graduates to get a handle on where they should focus their job search.  However, focusing on a broad section within the criminal justice industry should aid you in your search for a job, especially in an uncertain economy. 

An area such as law enforcement may be constantly changing to add new departments and careers, but it will remain relatively stable throughout the coming years.  Taking a look at this section after you first graduate or possibly interning with a law enforcement office will increase your chances of landing a job after graduation.  Law enforcement careers range from specific to broad, although broad positions such as police officials have remained relatively unchanged over the years, only adding various duties to heighten or lower their responsibility.  If you want to choose a specific career within law enforcement, many departments are popping up every year.  Forensics teams are constantly honing in on new specialties as technology produces crime that is in desperate need of a revamp every year.

Aside from law enforcement, the criminal justice field is constantly abounding with changes within the administration and enforcement of justice.  Laws are always being modified by Congress, implemented by law enforcement officers, and enforced by the judicial branch.  As there comes a need for revision, these laws are altered and new jobs are created.  Finding your niche in the criminal justice field really depends not only on the time you join the industry, but also the location and jurisdiction.  Each state comes entwined with its own laws and manner of enforcing them, making the job of a criminal justice graduate dependent on the state and their background knowledge of its criminal justice system.

While laws and crime may be constantly changing, the criminal justice field as a whole will stay the same for years to come.  Criminals will continue to be prosecuted while criminal justice officers administer the justice of the community.  Finding your way into the complex system and beginning your career is only step one of admiring the intricate way it continues to work.