Online Degree in Criminal Justice
Everyone has a dream job out there that’s just waiting for them; they need only put in the work to go and earn it. In today’s highly-competitive job market, finding good employment requires that one find a way to make him or herself stand out from the crowd. A good educational background combined with the right mix of experience in the workforce may just do the trick. Online degree courses can often provide just that.
For those interested in the field of criminal justice, there are a number of online degree programs out there that can help them obtain the necessary educational background to work within this industry. A criminal justice major will typically be required to complete basic and advanced courses in criminology, public policy, and forensic science, as well as more general courses whose theories apply to the different careers within the criminal justice system. These may include:
- Political science
- Computer science
Those hiring for positions within the field of criminal justice tend to favor candidates who are well-rounded and offer a diverse range of knowledge and skills. This is what generates the need for knowledge in so many different academic disciplines.
Careers Available in the Justice System
Just what types of careers are available within the criminal justice industry? There are jobs available that cater to all types of talents and aptitudes. One simply has to be able to complement those talents with the right combination of college coursework.
A closer look at the most common career paths available to those with a degree in criminal justice shows that most fall within three categories. The first is in what many consider to be the “front-line” fields. These are jobs that deal with the direct day-to-day enforcement of the law and in working directly with those involved in the justice system in some capacity. Listed below are the most common of these types of jobs, as well as some of the courses that those who wish to work in these careers should consider including in their studies:
- Law enforcement: Law enforcement careers include police work, as well as other regulatory jobs such as a game warden or conservation officer. Those interested in working in these fields will need to demonstrate a strong understanding of legal procedures, as well as sharp analytical skills. Thus, courses on criminal theory and concept analysis are recommended.
- Corrections: Working as a corrections or parole officer allows one the chance to enforce the rulings of federal and state courts. It also requires working in very hostile environments with dangerous people. The ability to diffuse tense situations and manage people in difficult settings will help one greatly in this field. Psychology and interpersonal relations courses can help instill such skills.
- Rehabilitation: For those looking to help others to turn their lives around, working as a rehab counselor provides such opportunities. Rehabilitation can refer to providing help in overcoming any number of issues, including criminal behavior, mental illness, and substance abuse. Having a solid educational background in biology, psychology, and health and wellness is helpful.
- Social Work: Much like rehab counselors, social workers help people in dealing with the consequences imposed by the criminal justice system. Yet their work often is geared towards those affected by criminal activity, such as the spouses, children, and victims of criminals. They’ll often be the ones to arrange for care and assistance for those in need of it. Sociology is one academic discipline prospective social workers will want to study, as is child and family studies as well as civics.
The second range of careers available in criminal justice includes those jobs that deal with the legal process. These are those who fight to ensure that the rights and interests of the community as well as alleged criminals are respected, and that the law is applied appropriately and only in those situations where it’s needed. These careers include:
- Paralegal: Those who are interested in working within the legal system yet who don’t want to go through the rigors of law school may want to consider working as a paralegal. These are the people who support attorneys through doing much of the research and ground work that will eventually lead to the information and evidence shared in criminal proceedings. Most schools will offer courses specifically designated as paralegal studies. Additional courses in research methods can also help in bolstering a prospective paralegal’s resume.
- Lawyer: For people who want to be ones fighting to impose or protect others from criminal punishments, a career as a lawyer is calling. Aside from obtaining a degree in criminal justice, one will also have to obtain an advanced legal degree to work as a lawyer.
The third and final group of careers in the criminal justice field includes those jobs that deal with the research into criminal activity and how crime affects society. Researchers and academics are in high demand for any of the following areas:
- Criminology: Criminology deals with how society both influences and is influenced by crime. These are the people with whom policymakers work closely in defining and creating both the law as well as its punitive consequences. Aside from courses dealing with criminology itself, students seeking degrees in this field must also often take classes in other research-based disciplines, including human psychology and philosophy.
- Psychology: The attempt to understand the criminal mind is a subject that psychologists have been trying to tackle for millennia. As long as there are people committing crimes, criminal psychologists will remain in demand. One can work in this field with either a criminal justice or a psychology degree.
- Information technology: As crime becomes more high-tech, both law enforcement agencies, legal institutions, and the targets of cyber-crime will need people who understand computer coding and development. The ideal candidates for these types of jobs are people who’ve studied both criminal justice and computer science.
- Research: Every year, the criminal justice system produces millions upon millions of new information, statistics, and reports. People who are adept and skilled in the methods of organizing and using this data in order to produce actionable information will always be needed. Anyone who enjoys data collection and manipulation will want to study up on different research methods during his or her academic career.
As you can see, the field of criminal justice offers many exciting opportunities. The key to taking advantage of them is to start making solid career choices today. Being a criminal justice major and earing a degree will help individuals start on that path.