Pursuing a degree in criminal justice can be the first step to an exciting and rewarding career. Not only are there a plethora of employment options when it comes to the criminal justice field, but there are lots of opportunities for further education and career advancement.
If you are wondering what this degree will land you after school, you’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find a list of the most sought-after criminal justice jobs.
What does a criminal justice degree entail?
Before we begin, let’s consider what the degree consists of. This will vary depending on the school you attend; however, a few key components will remain constant.
At its core, a criminal justice degree will teach you research methods for criminology, criminological theory, and the psychology behind criminal behaviour. This degree will give students an understanding of the three main components of the justice system:
- The courts
A criminal justice major will provide students with liberal arts and social-sciences-focused education in addition to more specific criminal justice and corrections training. This duality of more general humanities courses, coupled with the specificity of criminal justice courses, increases job options, and the candidates’ employability.
Areas of study and potential majors can include juvenile justice, criminal law, corrections, the judicial process, administrative theory and evaluations, and crime prevention. The topics covered in the courses span history, political science, communications, psychology, and sociology.
Jobs in criminal justice
After graduating with a criminal justice degree, many students go on to pursue careers in law enforcement agencies, correctional institutions, and other areas of the criminal justice field. Others choose to follow the higher education route and go on to pursue graduate degrees. Both options will eventually lead to many job prospects, some of which we’ve outlined below.
Note that this list covers criminal justice-specific careers, but the options are vast outside the ones mentioned. Not only are there many more potential criminal justice-related opportunities, but the comprehensive nature of the degree will allow you to pursue jobs outside of this field as well.
One of the more obvious career choices for those with criminal justice degrees is a job as a Police Officer. The primary job description of a cop is well known. On a fundamental level, cops work to enforce laws on a local level as well as a federal level.
Their main responsibility is to protect the lives and well-being of the citizens they serve. They do this by patrolling areas, responding to incident reports and calls requesting their help, issuing citations, and making arrests.
Becoming a cop takes persistence and hard work. You must take steps including higher education, police training, and certification before you can land such a position. The most basic educational requirement to become a police officer is an associate degree or bachelor’s degree. The degree does not necessarily need to be in criminal justice; however, being knowledgeable in the many areas of criminal justice will undoubtedly give you a leg up.
Careers in Security
While all industries have a growth trajectory, the security industry is known to have an incredibly steep growth rate. Security is an exciting world of opportunity, fast professional advancement, promotion through the ranks, and endless rewarding career paths.
Some potential starting career opportunities as a security professional include Mobile Patrol Officer, Operations Centre Staff, and Security Officer. Many look to become a security professional to gain invaluable experience that enables them to thrive within the security industry or even pursue a career in protective services like Law Enforcement. Here is all you need to know on how to get a security license.
Paladin Security is committed to offering the best employment and career development opportunities in the security industry by championing employee growth and career ownership through its promotion-from-within philosophy. With mentorships and coaching programs, employees can plot their own path within the organization and take their careers to the next level. The company also supports employees who want to transition into other public safety-related careers. Developmental training programs like “Paladin to Policing” (a one-of-a-kind prep-course exclusively available to Paladin staff) have proven to be an ideal steppingstone to secure employment in Law Enforcement, CBSA, RCMP, Paramedics, Psychiatric Nurses, Social Workers, Peace Officers, and more.
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A similar criminal justice career, though in a different context, is a Correctional Officer. These law enforcement officers are responsible for maintaining the safety and security of federal prisons. They monitor, supervise, and interact with offenders.
A Correctional Officer conducts routine patrols and inmate counts. They supervise the movement of inmates and escort them inside and outside the building when it is appropriate. They also search cells, offenders, visitors, vehicles, and surrounding areas when necessary.
To meet the educational requirements to become a Correctional Officer, you require a minimum of a high school diploma. However, possessing a criminal justice degree may allow upward movement in your position.
Youth Correctional Counselor
A Youth Correctional Officer provides counselling services to juvenile offenders and their families. They typically liaise between their clients, schools, and the criminal justice system, i.e., courts and prisons. The federal government correctional departments usually employ Youth Correctional Officers to work in juvenile detention centers or community programs.
To become a Youth Correctional Officer, the minimum educational requirement you will need is a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, social work, or counselling. If you accumulate extensive experience or possess an advanced degree such as a master’s degree, you will find advancement opportunities in management or administration.
Crime Prevention Specialist
One of the many criminal justice professionals who work to create safer communities is Crime Prevention Specialists. These criminal justice professionals have two main goals:
- The first is to develop community programs aimed at preventing crime
- The second is educating citizens on how to protect themselves against crime
In pursuit of these goals, these specialists conduct crime analyses on the community. The results of the findings help them generate a program to help target the issues in a particular community. Plans may involve the development of youth-focused programs, developing crime prevention marketing plans, and creating emergency response measures, among other initiatives.
In order to qualify for this job, you need an associate degree or a bachelor’s criminal justice degree and one to two years of experience in law enforcement or crime prevention.
A Probation Officer works with and monitors offenders to help them stay on track and prevent them from committing new crimes, as well as help those who have been released from prison to re-enter society. They carry out instructions given to them by the court. The most common of these instructions is to supervise offenders and research the offender’s criminal and personal history to assist with sentencing.
Probation Officers evaluate each offender to determine the best rehabilitation course, including providing resources and discussing treatment options. Becoming a Probation Officer requires a bachelor’s degree and meeting the national criteria, such as passing background checks. A criminal justice degree in this job will be incredibly useful and allow you to apply much of your learnings.
Criminal Justice Instructor
Very fittingly, we are concluding with the job responsible for instructing the next generation of criminal justice professionals. Of course, a Criminal Justice Instructor is accountable for teaching criminal justice-related courses. As an instructor, they develop the syllabus per the academic curriculum. They also prepare lectures and put together the reading list, presentations, and visual aid.
Criminal Justice Instructors are also responsible for facilitating discussions about various criminal justice theories, administering exams, and grading students. The level of education you require will depend on where you want to work. For example, a high school teacher may only require an undergraduate degree and some work experience in the field. On the other hand, instructing at a large university will often require a doctoral degree such as a J.D. or Ph.D.
One of the many reasons a criminal justice degree can be a great option is that it opens the doors for many career paths. You are neither limited nor tied down and have the flexibility to figure out what you excel in while pursuing a career in a meaningful field that will hopefully give you the chance to create a positive change in the lives of others.
If a career as a security professional caught your eye, you’re in the right place! Paladin is hiring in a variety of industries across Canada and offers the best-in-class security training in the country. Check out our careers page. We would love to see you grow with us!
If you are unsure about how to submit a strong resume for a security position, here is a downloadable template and helpful guide on how to write the ideal Security Guard resume.
Ready to jumpstart your career in security but aren’t sure which role is right for you? Take our quiz for a personalized career recommendation.