Criminal Justice Careers

Criminal justice jobs can be very rewarding – if helping people, promoting justice, and keeping your community safe are at the top of your list of priorities. For some people, a career in criminal justice is a very satisfying life choice. Lt. Gary R. Wallace retired from the Hudson (NY) Police Department after 38 years and still remains a deputy sheriff. “In the criminal justice profession, you see the cross-section of life,” he said. “At times you’re a priest, and other times you’re a psychiatrist. You could deliver a baby in the morning and be arresting a felon in the afternoon.”

If you are thinking about preparing for a career in criminal justice, you need to make sure you are up for the challenge.

Here is a list of personal characteristics that individuals interested in a criminal justice career should have. Do you have what it takes?

  • Strong moral character
  • Attentive to detail
  • Physically fit
  • Quick thinking
  • Ability to handle stress
  • Self confident
  • Self motivated
  • Considerate of gender, race and other factors
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Strong leadership skills
  • Excellent people skills
  • Skillful communicator
  • Good decision maker
  • Interest in public affairs
  • Socially conscious
  • Trustworthy
  • Ability to be discreet
  • Problem solving skills


To get a better feel for what jobs in this field require, it is recommended that you get additional hands-on experience by volunteering and/or interning at local law enforcement agencies.

Participating in an internship will also allow you to make valuable connections with criminal justice professionals, improve and diversify your resume, and get a better idea of what you want in a career. In fact, most criminal justice degree programs will encourage you to fill internship positions while you work towards your degree. In some cases, hours worked interning can be transferred to hours of credit towards a degree.


  • What’s your schedule? Check to be sure it will work into your schedule, especially if you are working for free. Also, make sure it will not interfere with your studies.
  • Will you be paid? Most internships are unpaid, but you may be able to find some positions that offer a stipend or hourly wage.
  • Will you earn credit towards your degree? Some internship programs will help you earn school credit while you work. You will need to have the internship approved by your school and will often need to fill out paperwork to ensure you get your credits.
  • When do you want to start? Be aware of application deadlines! Internships can be competitive, so if you know of an opportunity you are interested in be sure to jump on it as soon as it becomes available.

Internships are the best way to get the work experience you need to find a job once you graduate. Nothing will beat the experience you will get from working with real criminal justice professionals in a real work environment!

For more information about criminal justice degrees and careers, check out StudentAdvisor’s Criminal Justice Careers Guide.

Have you had a criminal justice internship? Comment and share your experience below!

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