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Criminal Justice

If television shows based on crime investigation and criminal apprehension interest you, maybe you’re considering a degree in criminal justice. Some criminal justice work can require you to be in dangerous or stressful situations without a very glorified salary, but the service can be interesting and personally rewarding. Most of these positions are governmental jobs that can offer good benefits and retirement, and there is a never-ending need for criminal justice graduates.

Concentrations

While some might think that aspiring attorneys will obtain a criminal justice degree before going to law school, most pre-law students receive degrees in liberal arts or business degrees, which focus more on writing, speaking, and analytical skills. Criminal justice majors concentrate on specific areas, such as law enforcement, criminal behavior, and the judicial process. Here are some areas of degree concentration, but you should first determine what type of job you are most interested in before deciding an area on which to focus your attention.
Computer Security
Corrections
Crime Scene
Forensics
Homeland Security
Law Enforcement
Public Safety

Qualities and Skills

Criminal justice graduates can work with data (research, analysis, investigation, problem solving and information); people (aiding, advising, managing, negotiating and persuading); and ideas (planning, creating, communicating and initiating). The set of skills required for these jobs may seem broad, but each criminal justice occupation will require certain skills to be sharpened. In these careers, there is no room for mistakes, and a potential employer will want to make sure you have the best knowledge for the position. For certain occupations within criminal justice, physical skills are just as critical as mental skills. It is significant to note that some criminal justice careers will require an evaluation or specialized training for required physical skills, such as strength, endurance, and accuracy in firing a weapon.

Additional Qualifications

Potential criminal justice students should bear in mind that the following could affect your ability to find work even if you have a degree:
Drug use
Association with criminals
Negative criminal record
Negative driving record
Negative credit report

Occupations

Governmental jobs available to criminal justice majors include corrections officers, probation officers, crime scene investigators, police officers and police detectives. If you’re more interested in the private sector, you may consider a job as a private detective, corporate security specialist, financial investigator, or security consultant.

Earnings

The annual base salaries for police officers and detectives are generally higher than the median annual salary for probation and corrections officers. Private investigators and detectives earn less on average.