What Can I Do With a Criminal Justice Degree

Social Services

Areas

  • Corrections
  • Counseling
  • Juvenile Justice
  • Casework
  • Administration
  • Probations & Parole
  • Victim Advocacy

Employers

  • State and federal correction facilities
  • County jails
  • Precinct station houses
  • Prison camps
  • Youth correction facilities
  • Medium-security correction facilities
  • Voluntary correction facilities
  • Halfway houses and pre-release programs
  • Reintegration programs
  • Alternative schools
  • Juvenile detention centers
  • Juvenile group homes
  • Women's and family shelters
  • Domestic violence agencies
  • Immigration and naturalization services
  • Other nonprofit organizations

Strategies

Seek courses or training in topics such as victimology, social problems, diversity issues, or grieving. Supplement curriculum with courses in psychology, sociology, or social work. Gain experience working with a juvenile population in any capacity (i.e., sports teams, summer camp counselor, parks and recreation programs, and community/religious youth groups). Gain related experience in employment interviewing, social casework, substance abuse, and rehabilitation.
Learn to work well with people of diverse backgrounds. Consider learning a second language. Maintain a blemish-free driving and criminal record. Gain firearms and self-defense training. Earn a master's degree in social work or counseling for therapy positions. Obtain a masters degree in criminal justice or business for upper-level positions in facilities management or administration.

Judiciary and Law

Areas

  • Court Reporting
  • Legal Assistance
  • Legal Research
  • Administration

Employers

  • Local, state, and federal courts
  • Law firms
  • Corporate legal departments
  • Public interest law organizations

Strategies

Consider a double major or minor in the social sciences such as psychology, anthropology, sociology, or political science. Attend a postsecondary vocational or technical college that offers court reporting or paralegal certification programs.
Obtain a law degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA). Learn to use software packages such as CD-ROM research databases. Develop strong research, computer, and writing skills. Maintain a high grade point average to gain admittance to law school. Participate in mock trial groups.

Law Enforcement

Areas

  • Patrolling
  • Investigating
  • Forensics
  • Probation
  • Security

Employers

  • City/County Government Organizations including: Police departments, Correction facilities, County sheriff departments, Liquor Control Commission
  • State Government Organizations including: State troopers, Crime labs, Penitentiaries
  • Federal Government Organizations including: U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Department of Homeland Security, Postal Service, Federal Marshals, Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Parks Service
  • Crime laboratories
  • Colleges and universities

Strategies

Obtain related training or certifications such as CPR, first aid, or EMT. Complete a formal police academy program upon graduation. Maintain a healthy and physically fit lifestyle. Volunteer to work in a police department or campus safety department. Complete an internship in a crime laboratory to gain experience in the forensic application of science. Obtain a double major in criminal justice and a hard science (biology, chemistry, or biochemistry) if interested in a career in forensics. Consider earning a master's degree in Forensic Science or related discipline. Become familiar with the government application process. Learn a second language.

Business

Areas

  • Private Security
  • Consulting
  • Investigating
  • Systems Integration
  • Global Intelligence
  • Private Investigation
  • Internet Security
  • Loss and Prevention

Employers

  • Insurance companies
  • Banks
  • Private security companies
  • Software companies
  • Hotels and resorts
  • Health care facilities
  • Transportation services
  • Nuclear power plants
  • Manufacturers
  • Online companies
  • Other large corporations

Strategies

Minor in business or computer science. Seek practicum/internship experiences that include training in the hardware and software of security systems. Maintain good physical fitness. Develop exceptional written and oral communication skills.
Seek leadership opportunities and develop strong interpersonal skills. Attend firearm safety courses. Obtain first aid and CPR certification. Gain military experience and training. Earn a graduate degree in business or law for upper-level positions.

Education

Areas

  • Teaching
  • Research

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Adult education providers
  • Public and private high schools

Strategies

Earn a graduate degree for post-secondary teaching opportunities. Get a teaching certificate for elementary or secondary education. Gain a dual certification for increased opportunities. Serve as a tutor to other students.
Develop strong written and oral communication skills. Assist a professor with research. Take additional coursework related to research and statistics.

General Information

  • Many criminal justice professions require candidates to possess strong oral and written communication skills and good computer skills. The ability to speak a second language is also desirable.
  • Develop good listening skills and the ability to work well with a wide range of diverse populations.
  • Most entry-level positions for criminal justice majors reside with law enforcement and social service organizations.
  • Be willing to start in an entry-level job in order to prepare for more advanced career opportunities.
  • Obtain experience through volunteer, practicum, or internship opportunities.
  • Supplement program of study with courses in business, psychology, anthropology, or sociology. Course work related to the hard sciences (biology, chemistry, or biochemistry) is preferred for career opportunities in forensics.
  • Depending upon one's career goals, earn a master's degree in disciplines such as criminal justice, forensic science, social work, counseling, or business to obtain positions involving therapy, higher levels of administration, forensics, or research. Earn the doctorate degree for university teaching positions.
  • Conduct informational interviews with professionals in fields of interest to learn more about opportunities.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA /ADEA Employer