5 Jobs in Criminal Justice

Career Advice

Customs and Border Protection Officer. Photo by James Tourtellotte

A criminal justice degree provides a lot of job options, especially for security clearance holders. Attention to detail, clear writing skills, ability to work in a fast-paced, high stress environment are all crucial skills for law enforcement that translate well to a variety of positions.

Here are five examples of cleared jobs for individuals with a criminal justice degree:

Cybersecurity

A common misconception is you must have a computer science degree in order to work in the growing cybersecurity field. Across government agencies, a big part of the cyber mission is a law enforcement one. If you already possess cyber skills, or if you’re willing to tackle some additional courses, blending cyber and criminal justice can be a great path to a variety of career options and almost guaranteed job security.

While the government doesn’t always boast of streamlined processes, it does provide their cybersecurity professionals with some very important, high stakes work. Securing military plans…information that other countries would love to get their hands on, is a pretty important job. Just supplement a criminal justice degree with computer science courses or certifications to increase your marketability and you can be supporting large government agencies in securing our information and fighting off cyber threats.

Border Patrol/ICE

Keeping terrorists and their weapons outside our borders is a challenging but rewarding job. While the hours can be long and the work hard, border patrol agents enjoy federal benefits (federal retirement) along with a higher starting rate than other law enforcement jobs. Field work is best suited for individuals who enjoy time in the outdoors.

Special Agent: DEA/CIA/FBI/Secret Service

Similar to border patrol agents, other federal agency law enforcement positions provide their agents federal benefits. Agents can typically receive a higher starting salary than other law enforcement careers. Agents typically have a diverse workload, depending on the issue. Fighting terrorists overseas can easily crossover into fighting drug smugglers in the United States.

The position and prerequisites for special agent positions vary significantly by agency. Don’t expect to get a job with the Drug Enforcement Agency if you have marijuana use in your past (but come on over to the Secret Service). Just because a position with one organization doesn’t work out, you may find a better hit with another.

Forensics

While a criminal justice degree does not play the primary role in acquiring a job in forensics, it is compatible to dual or additional degrees/coursework in the sciences – whether your specialty is computer science, engineering, or biology. Your science degree is the ticket to a forensics job; however, a criminal justice degree and/or law enforcement experience is helpful for advancement and finding the right agency. The job may not be as glamorous as Hollywood portrays it, but it is one of the more interesting fields.

Intelligence Analyst

The key component of the intelligence analyst’s job is researching and summarizing. Some research will happen behind a desk, but some research may happen out on the field, providing a varied work environment. It’s also important to have the ability to assess threats and interpret the information. Typically, subject matter expertise or foreign language capabilities can enhance marketability.

The benefit of a criminal justice degree is the diversity of career opportunities available. You can work at a desk or be out on patrol – and still have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve pursued a career that’s all about helping keep your family and your country safe.

Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.

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