Criminal justice is a very wide field, and as technology develops and the world changes, it gets even more diversified. Whether you are interested in the legal aspect of criminal justice, working as a federal or local law enforcement officer, investigating cybercrimes, or working behind the scenes in forensics, you’ll likely need a criminal justice degree of some sort.
Criminal Justice Education:
Those who are preparing for a career in criminal justice will either pursue a certification, earn an undergraduate degree, or obtain a graduate degree.
- Certifications: A certification is typically a series of specialized courses relating to a specific criminal justice discipline. These courses often take less than 2 years, but they also often require you to take continuing education courses throughout your career to maintain your certification
- Undergraduate degree: This is either an associate (typically 2 years) or a bachelor’s (typically 4 years) degree. These programs are more formal education taken at a college or university. It is becoming more and more common to find that an undergraduate degree, particularly a bachelor degree, is required even for entry level positions.
- Graduate degree: Those who have completed a bachelor degree can continue their education and receive a graduate degree. Those with this degree level are often eligible for higher level positions and leadership positions. It is quite common for someone working in criminal justice with a bachelor degree to obtain a graduate degree during their career for advancement purposes.
Types of Criminal Justice Programs:
There are many different careers that fall within the criminal justice category. Here are just a few of the more popular examples of different criminal justice programs.
- Law Enforcement: Law enforcement includes local law enforcement, such as police officers and state patrol, as well as Federal law enforcement, such as the FBI and ATF. While it is still possible in some situations to become a police officer without a degree, more and more people are obtaining a degree before they apply and attend an academy class. Federal law enforcement often requires a bachelor degree.
- Forensic Science: Forensic science focuses on analyzing evidence obtained from a crime scene or elsewhere. There are many ways in which a forensic scientist helps with criminal justice. Branches of this discipline include Forensic psychology, crime scene investigation and computer forensics.
- Homeland Security: Homeland security specializes in border control, counter-terrorism and emergency management
- Corrections: Those who specialize in corrections work directly with those who are already in the criminal justice system. Often they work in prisons, or with those who are on parole.
- Cybersecurity: Those with this degree work to protect information and networks from those who would want to hack in. It’s also commonly called an information security degree.
Criminal Justice Schools
There are some technical schools that provide certificate programs in a wide variety of criminal justice specializations. If you are looking to get a degree rather than a certification, then you will want to look at colleges and universities. Many private colleges and public colleges and universities offer great criminal justice programs.