What are Some Careers in Criminal Justice?

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  • Written By: Greta Gunselman
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Images By: James Steidl, Ia_64, George Wada, Squidmediaro, Stephen Coburn, Official U.s. Navy Page, Endostock
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2018
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If a person is considering a new career or even planning their future, they might consider one of the many careers in criminal justice. Of course, a person might want to know what kind of job or career they could obtain with a degree in criminal justice before they actually committed themselves to that particular field of study.

Some careers in criminal justice include being a court reporter, judge, attorney, paralegal, law enforcement officer, private detective and corrections or probation officer. While each of these careers in criminal justice can be fulfilling, choosing the right one will depend on the goals and interests of the individual.

A court reporter records any legal or official document. They can also be hired by television stations to broadcast the words for the hearing impaired. This can be an interesting career with flexibility should a person decide to freelance and keep their own hours. Some states may require a special license to work as a court reporter so this might be something worth discovering prior to signing up for any courses.


Other careers in criminal justice, such as becoming a judge, attorney or paralegal, can be great choices for many individuals. It is not a requirement to have been to law school to become a judge. A judge does listen and make decisions on legal matters and their jurisdiction can range from small claims to the supreme court. There are judgeships at both the county, state and federal levels.

To become an attorney, there is the need for law school after obtaining a bachelor’s degree. This may be one of the most studious careers in criminal justice to be found. After completing law school, almost every state requires the passing of a bar exam. However, if a person fails to pass, they do have the opportunity to retake it. One thing to note is that should an attorney relocate to another state, they would have to pass that state's bar exam as well.

To become a paralegal, bachelor degrees are not required but they can enhance one’s ability to get a good job in the industry. A paralegal can not dispense legal advice however the training they receive makes them quite invaluable to the attorneys they work for. A paralegal does have the option to specialize, just like an attorney, and become board certified in a specific area of law.

There is an array of law enforcement careers in criminal justice as well. They include police officer, employment with a federal agency such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or even becoming a police officer or local sheriff. To become a law enforcement officer, there will be a series of qualifications that must be passed. This includes background checks and completion of some type of law enforcement training, and the training is usually dependent on the level of law enforcement a person is considering. Local police departments will have a police academy with certain standards that need to be met for graduation. At the federal level, there are more requirements to be met and a more rigorous training to be successfully completed.

Unlike the other opportunities described here, no formal training is needed to become a private investigator, but it is definitely a good idea to have some sort of education or training, and a license is usually required. A private investigator’s job is based upon the clientele they serve and can range in the types of cases they handle.

Beyond these types of jobs that primarily identify or prosecute criminals, there are many other opportunities within most criminal justice systems that involve supporting or counseling the criminals. Social workers, forensic researchers, counselors, parole officers, and many others are dedicated to helping individuals who are convicted of a crime to become productive and responsible citizens again.



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