Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is the usual entry degree to join the field and may set you on your way toward a brilliant career.
Criminal justice is a wide open and varied field. It is sometimes confused with other fields, such as criminology, but all have subtle differences. Criminal justice studies the policies, methods, and procedures that are implemented in working with crime and criminals. The field includes all aspects of crime, from investigative procedures through the prosecution phase, to punishment—whether in the penal system or through probationary or community service measures.
A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is the usual entry degree to join the field and may set you on your way toward a brilliant career.
Why Earn a BA After an AA
If you already have an associate degree in criminal justice, you might wonder why you need more education. After all, with an AA you can land a good job and even add new certifications as a way of getting education as you gain experience in the field. You may also be eligible for raises and can transfer your position to a new jurisdiction if you see fit.
However, a bachelor’s degree can help you officially take your career to the next level. Frequently, government jobs will have strict requirements for promotions or certain jobs. Without a bachelor’s, you might not qualify for the role you’re eyeing. With higher scale careers come more exciting opportunities and enhanced pay and benefits—but if you read the government websites, almost all of these grade advancements require a bachelor’s degree.
With more education also comes a deeper and richer understanding of your field. The academic environment allows you to explore the real meaning behind the policies you enact every day on the job. You can see their broad application and implications, which will make you more effective as you perform your duties. You may even find that your responsibilities become more enriching and rewarding through this deeper consideration.
What Does a Criminal Justice Program Offer?
A criminal justice program has a lot to offer. You can study the constitutional backing behind the laws that officers enforce, dig into forensic science, or learn investigative procedures and the role of law enforcement in society. You can also specialize in global courses that cover important topics such as terrorism, computer crime, world security, and intelligence-gathering; or you can work locally in corrections where you’ll do important work such as managing individual client caseloads.
Before enrolling in a program, research how it is structured. If you are interested in issues related to terrorism and homeland security, you might seek out programs that focus on those areas. Others might wish to work in other areas of criminal justice, such as the legal aspect. Those students might want a program that offers paralegal certificates on top of a criminal justice degree.
When you embark on your bachelor’s degree program, think of other fields to work in for a minor or double major. For instance, you might decide to minor in social work or psychology if you see yourself assisting the victims of crimes. Or you might be interested in politics and policy, so you could get a minor or double major in political science or sociology.
15 Great Careers for a Major in Criminal Justice
Take a look at some of the notable careers you might work in once you earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. These familiar—and unusual—roles all contribute to the betterment of society and the world.
- Victim Advocacy:
Assisting victims as they work through the confusion of criminal justice in search of restitution for wrongs done to them. You might also work with children who are helpless in the vast bureaucracy.
- Police Officer:
Provide safety and security to the general public. Officers protect and serve communities, helping them thrive.
- Security Officer:
Patrol and secure hospitals, corporate and university campuses. Security is vital in stopping crime before it happens.
- Probation Officer:
Help criminals meet the court’s requirements for their early release. Your good work will help stem the tide of criminal recidivism.
- Corrections Officer:
Work with inmates in a variety of jails and prisons. You can help keep order and facilitate prisoner rehabilitation.
- Youth Detention Counselor:
Work with troubled youth caught in the criminal justice system. You can make a difference in the lives of youth who might otherwise become caught in an endless loop of infractions and incarceration.
- Insurance Investigator:
Investigate fraudulent insurance claims. Your goal will be to protect the insurance company and its other insured customers from unnecessary costs.
- Cybersecurity Investigator: Investigate computer crimes such as hacking. You may also work with cybersecurity professionals to assess preventative measures and software.
- Evidence Technician:
Secure evidence from a crime scene. Following the rules of evidence is vital in this position, and maintaining the integrity of evidence samples will fall to you.
- Forensic Science Technician:
Meticulously collect and guard evidence. You will also use laboratory techniques to assess the evidence. For instance, you might determine blood types from spatters at a scene, or perform an analysis of clothing fibers to determine their origin.
- Private Detective:
A PI is called upon to help in cases where the governmental apparatus of criminal justice is not available. With a degree, you will know how to best conduct surveillance and background checks that are effective and lawful. You can also contract with private businesses to do the sorts of background checks they cannot perform.
- Fraud Investigator:
You can assist in uncovering credit card or other sorts of financial fraud. Your work might also involve insurance fraud, or white collar crimes such as embezzlement. You may wish to get a minor in accounting or business administration to augment your Criminal Justice degree.
- Postal Inspector:
Even with email, mail fraud is still a major problem. As a postal investigator, you will work with the Untied Postal Inspection Service to uncover all sorts of crimes that impact the lives of Americans every day.
- Blood Spatter Analyst:
You will work alongside forensic scientists at crime scenes to determine the angle, velocity, and momentum of blood spatters. You will need to know how to maintain the chain of evidence on top of your knowledge of the biology, chemistry, and physics of blood.
- Homicide Detective:
This is a difficult job, but one that can be very rewarding. You will investigate the untimely deaths of citizens and bring their killers to justice.
There are many other jobs out there for a criminal justice major, including careers within the fabric of federal law enforcement. The more you explore, the more intrigued you will be with the opportunities available to you once you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree.