Furthering Your Criminal Justice Career

Furthering Your Criminal Justice Career

Criminal justice professionals promote the law and help keep the country and its citizens safe.

What Criminal Justice Professionals Do

There are many jobs that fall under the umbrella of criminal justice careers. What they have in common is the protection and welfare of people—from the prevention of crime to criminal process.

[Check out criminal justice degrees at Kaplan University.]

Jobs found in the criminal justice field include the following:

Border Patrol Agents patrol the US borders to prevent those without a legal right to be in the country from entering and prevent illegal goods from being brought in.


A bachelor’s degree is necessary. A program of study that provides a foundation in homeland security and law enforcement can provide a competitive edge.

Forensic Science Technicians gather, analyze, and classify crime scene evidence. They may specialize in crime scene investigation or laboratory analysis. They are also known as forensic scientists or crime scene investigators.


Many forensic science technicians, particularly those who work in laboratories, will have a bachelor of science in criminal justice, forensic science, or similar. For more senior positions a master’s of science in criminal justice, or a related discipline, is often preferred.

[Not sure if forensic science is for you? Try it out first; take a free Introduction to Forensic Science MOOC.]

Police Officers protect people and property, enforce laws, and investigate suspicious activity and crimes.


It varies depending on the agency. Graduation from a training academy is a must and a degree may also be required or useful in providing a head-start—particularly a program of study that covers types of criminal offenses and the techniques used in the field.

Private Detectives and Investigators gather information about a person or activity by employing investigative techniques such as search or surveillance.


College education is typical and may be required depending on the type of work. For example, many computer forensics investigators will need a degree in criminal justice.

Probation Officers and Correction Treatment Specialists aid in the rehabilitation of people granted parole. They evaluate needs, arrange treatment programs, and monitor progress to deter offenders from committing new crimes.


A bachelor’s degree is usually required, specifically in criminal justice careers or a related field.

Firefighters respond to medical and fire emergencies. They may specialize in a certain area, like hazardous materials or forest fires.


Many firefighters have a postsecondary education, such as a bachelor’s of science in fire science.

Fire Inspectors or Investigators evaluate structures for fire safety. From shopping malls to abandoned buildings, they ensure compliance with fire codes. They look for fire hazards and decide if a building is safe. They also investigate fires to determine origin and cause.


A bachelor’s degree in fire science or a related discipline is generally the preferred entry-level education.

[Start your degree in fire science right now.]

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) professionals help keep the nation secure. They prepare for, prevent, or mitigate events such as terrorism or hurricanes. There are various DHS career opportunities, at many experience levels and across professions. From nurses and computer analysts to Secret Service agents and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) employees.


The education necessary to the particular profession within the DHS is required. For example, a computer analyst will usually need a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science. Additionally, a foundation in criminal justice may provide an advantage or be expected, depending on the role.

Why Consider a Criminal Justice Career

Criminal justice careers can be very rewarding—if helping people, promoting justice, and keeping communities safe are at the top of your list of priorities.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, continued demand for public safety will lead to new openings in many criminal justice fields. However jobs in certain areas, such as firefighting and policing—particularly for state and federal positions—will be more competitive.

Occupation (Numbers in Thousands) 2010 Employment % Change Expected by 2020 Net Change Expected by 2020
Firefighters 310 +9% +27
Forensic Science Technicians 13 +19% +2
Police and Detectives 794 +7% +59
Private Detectives and Investigators 35 +21% +7
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 93 +18% +17