Choosing to pursue a career in criminal justice can lead to a very rewarding and possibly a very lucrative career. There are specific tips that can potentially affect the path to a satisfying career in criminal justice.
Know the path you need to take
There are a wide variety of career options available in criminal justice. Fortunately for those interested in a criminal justice career, it is one of those fields that will never die out, much like the medical field or the undertaker. Before just declaring any criminal justice-related major, explore the options of programs available. The specific career path that you want to pursue or commit your life’s work to may not be available under a general criminal justice major. There may be a specific program or path that will lead to a degree which verifies you have completed all educational requirements to be considered for a position with Homeland Security, an agency such as the U.S. Department of Justice or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to work in cyber crime areas or even at your local county probation department.
Know the educational requirements
Thoroughly research all criminal justice majors available at the college or university you attend. If you are not yet attending college, consider researching the best programs at several colleges for the career path you would like to pursue. No matter what criminal justice program you study, it will do you little good if you graduate and discover that you do not have the educational requirements for that dream job that you planned on landing the week after graduating.
Some criminal justice positions requires at least a Bachelor’s Degree in a specified field or area, while others may require an Associate Degree. Some employers will not accept an online certificate of a career program. The requirements for most criminal justice positions are a degree from an accredited college or university. It is your responsibility to research and successfully complete all the educational requirements for the company, agency or state that you plan to work in.
Learn how to write and write some more
One of the aspects of criminal justice that may not be considered is the amount of writing that is required. Even a security officer or plain-clothes loss prevention associate in a retail setting must write a significant number or reports and prepare documents regularly. It is imperative to have impeccable writing skills. A poorly written report or one that lacks significant details can result in an otherwise airtight case being tossed out of court. Documentation is extremely crucial in any area of criminal justice, as are the reports that give clear details of who, what, when, where, why.
Another feature of all reports and statements, that is also imperative, is legible handwriting and exceptional spelling ability, as many reports are initially written by hand and later entered into a system. If a person, even yourself, at a later date, cannot read your writing or enters an incorrect word because you misspelled it in the original report, the information may take on a whole new meaning, or again, can result in a technicality being alleged, which jeopardizes the strength of a case.
There are some writing classes required in every criminal justice program; take more. Even seasoned veterans in the criminal justice field should brush up on writing skills periodically.
Always be above reproach
It is imperative that every individual working in any area of criminal justice be above reproach. Credibility, honesty, dependability and trustworthiness are all critical to a successful criminal justice career. There have been numerous cases of police officers, court officials all the way to the judge and prosecutor being “on the take.” Never put yourself in a position to take such a disgraceful fall. You must always be above reproach in everything that you do and say if you expect to have a successful career in any area of criminal justice.
Being an example continues after clocking out
A criminal justice professional is always under the scrutiny of the public eye, even after-hours, when off-duty. Some professionals have had their careers fall in shambles by after-hours behavior.
In May 2013, former Michigan Supreme Court Judge Diane Hathaway was sentenced to a year and a day in prison for mortgage fraud, according to Justice News Flash, reporting on the original AP report.
In Chicago, the Chicago Tribune gave details of an administrative law judge with the Social Security Administration who was sentenced to prison for disclosing confidential records to an attorney. The attorney then used the information to contact the individuals on the confidential list to solicit for clients.
ABC-15 shows the video of an off-duty police officer pulling and waving his gun at the store clerk when making a purchase at a Tucson-area convenience store.
Corruption allegations have plagued several police departments and criminal justice agencies. While it may seem “cool” to join the co-workers who have been there much longer than you, eventually, the corruption seems to always be revealed, resulting in the public disgrace of the criminal justice professionals involved.
If you plan on a career in criminal justice, you must be strong enough to resist all temptation for inappropriate behaviors and actions, both when on and off duty.
Pursuing a career in criminal justice can be very rewarding, But it is essential, no matter what stage of your career you are in, to stay abreast of changes and new procedures in the field. Learning new techniques, equipment and updating writing skills and taking continuing education courses as may be required for your department or agency are all imperative. Being above reproach, both on and off the clock, can help guarantee you will be looked upon as a trustworthy individual who is a very valuable asset to any criminal justice department, agency or business.