Criminal justice system illustrated by figurine holding the scales of justice.

Criminal Justice

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Have you ever considered a career working in criminal justice? If you have, you likely have wondered what type of work experience, education, and personality traits this career requires. If you choose a career in this field, you will learn about crimes and the people who commit them.

Criminal Justice Careers

There is a major emphasis in law enforcement on modern scientific methods to find, gather evidence, and ultimately arrest criminals. Beyond science, other areas that you will study include social sciences and basic litigation methods common to criminal justice careers. Obviously, this is just a broad overview of the typical careers in criminal justice. Exact class requirements vary depending on the position that you strive to attain. Regardless of the position, one of the greatest satisfactions of pursuing this career is your influence on the community and society. You become a defender of the peace and the constitutional rights of the people.

Criminal justice plays an important role in the ability to maintain order and protect the rights of the people. The field encompasses many career paths, including detectives, police officers, forensic scientists, lawyers, and other law enforcement professionals. Sometimes, when people consider this career, they incorrectly jump to the conclusion that all careers deal with the conviction and prosecution of criminals. Some careers in criminal justice entail defending the accused. Because of the high association with law, most career paths require at least a bachelor’s degree. You may also need to receive certifications, depending on the specific field you choose to pursue.


One of the greatest advantages of criminal justice careers is that they allow you to help people who cannot help themselves. Many crime victims are incapable of defending themselves. Sometimes, exploitation is physical, but often the abuse is emotional and financial. There is no greater satisfaction than to be able to defend the helpless and to uphold justice. Another advantage of this career is that it offers a variety of job opportunities. Because most jobs require college degrees, there is usually room for promotion and increased success. In addition, there is a high demand for people who want to devote their lives to this career.

Another great thing about a criminal justice career is that most jobs have dynamic descriptions. There are always opportunity for job variation and change. Because the field is large, many professionals are able to use the expertise that they gain through valuable experience and education to branch out into other fields and departments. You will go far in this field when you gain the relevant education and work experience. Because of the importance of many of the tasks you will work on, you will often work with teams of people to accomplish each task. This allows you to not only accomplish more, but you also build a professional network, which gives you greater future work opportunities.

Criminal Investigator

Criminal Investigator careers are often romanticized in movies, television shows, and books. From Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street to Ray Langston of CSI, criminal investigator characters are exciting and their job is often envied by mystery novel readers everywhere.

But what do real criminal investigators do? Criminal investigators work with informants, suspects, and witnesses to solve criminal mysteries. They also use forensic evidence to solve crimes and keep records and background information on criminals. The main objective of these professionals is to gather enough evidence for a court appearance and the sentencing of a criminal.

Specialized Areas in Criminal Investigation

These investigators usually specialize in a specific area like burglary, domestic violence, homicide, missing persons, narcotics, computer crime, or fraud, among other areas. Each of these areas brings different challenges and criminal investigators could have vastly different responsibilities, depending on their specialization. Cases also vary greatly depending on the situation, so every day as a criminal investigator is different with new challenges.

A Day in the Life of a Criminal Investigator

As a criminal investigator, some of your time will be spent on site, looking for evidence and investigating crime scenes or interviewing witnesses and people of interest. However, some of your time will also be spent in an office analyzing your findings and coordinating investigation efforts. Your goal will be to extrapolate information from evidence that will help convict a suspect.

Depending on different factors, criminal investigators can make anywhere between *$37,960 to *$99,980 a year. Many criminal investigators often work in law enforcement, legal services, government, or business intelligence.

Top Criminal Justice Programs

Pursue an advanced degree if you want to go far in your criminal justice career. Many universities have programs, but it is important to seek out the best. This is a competitive field and it requires great skill and expertise. Employers look for bright employees who will be capable of completing tasks before deadlines. Determine the education requirements in the field that you choose for a career. Make sure that the university you select is the best in offering an education geared towards your chosen career.

One of the biggest mistakes we make in life is to wait and let opportunity pass us by. Take the time now to research your opportunities and find a program that works for you. The benefits of choosing this career far outweigh the costs. Give back to the community, help society, and reap the benefits that come with a career in criminal justice.