It is an unfortunate but very real fact of modern society that crime rates generally increase from year to year. While some of this increase corresponds with an increase in population, the rise is disproportionate. As a result, it is likely that there will be a consistent demand for those within the criminal justice umbrella of careers.
Criminal justice careers range from the police officer to the popular CSI agent. With more and more crime shows on television it is understandable that a greater number of people are choosing to pursue a career in criminal justice.
Employment and Earnings Statistics
It is virtually impossible to give salary and employment figures for every criminal justice career available because of the huge scope that a criminal justice education covers. We will cover some of the more popular professions:
Police officers can expect to earn an average of around $25,000 when they first start their career. This can be as low as $18,000 in some areas and more in others. After six years of service, the average salary for a police officer rises to $35,000 per year.
Typically, criminalists can expect to earn $40,000 or higher depending on experience and area. Forensic scientists earn anything from $24,000 to $36,000 with comparatively little forensic experience. Experienced forensic scientists are able to earn $50,000 and possibly more.
Current Criminal Justice Requirements
The fact that crime rates are rising is a difficult fact to avoid, however, limited budgets and increased competition for positions means that criminal justice careers can be difficult to come by. It is important to fully research the particular area that interests you and take the most appropriate courses and advance along the most relevant career paths to reach your final destination. It is also important to remember that many television shows and common views regarding criminal justice careers are exaggerated; a real-life criminal justice career is often much more mundane and slow-paced than what is depicted on television.
The Best Course of Education
While it is possible to step into the police force without a degree, the amount of people vying for the available police officer and other roles means that getting a degree is considered one of the most successful routes into a criminal justice career. In the case of criminalists and similarly technical roles it is certainly a wise choice. Certificates do exist for some branches of criminal justice but these are usually attained once you have a job. As well as studying criminal justice, many employers and government agencies like to see a good understanding of, or a reasonable education in, other areas. Typically law, business, and finance are particularly helpful when trying to progress a criminal justice career.
Criminal Justice Jobs
- Government agents are employed in the various agencies including the CIA, FBI, ATF, DEA, Customs and INS. These jobs are generally geared around desk-based research work with only very few highly gifted and skilled agents ever seeing action similar to that in the movies.
- Police and law enforcement is an obvious area of interest to anyone that has studied criminal justice. As well as becoming a police office or a detective, you could progress to become a sheriff, coastguard or a US Marshall. The type of work associated with these jobs will vary. However, it can range from very physical work to desk-based work.
- Scientists and scientific investigators. This is a fairly broad group of potential careers that encompasses various specialties in the forensic and investigation aspects of criminal science. Other potential jobs include the criminal profiler and crime scene investigator.
- The private sector. Not everyone wants to work for government agencies or as a law enforcement officer. For these people there are a number of potential careers within the private sector. Private detective and private security are among the posts to consider.
Criminal Justice Program Details
It is widely accepted that the quickest way to progress in any criminal justice career is through first obtaining a criminal justice degree. Potential candidates that are also able to display an aptitude for finance, business or law are more likely to gain the more coveted roles. Other degrees may also prove to be just as good. Psychology or psychiatry experts are always needed, especially for profiling criminals. Legal assistants and, indeed, solicitors and lawyers will generally require a degree in law over a degree in criminal justice.