With the ever-growing popularity of the true-crime genre furthered by the success of television shows like NCIS and Criminal Minds, who hasn’t considered a career in criminal justice? Darting around a high-tech lab while spouting off phrases like “Maxim Defense PDW brace” and “BOLO” seems like a dream job to many, but if your interests lie beyond your armchair-detective status, it may be time for you to consider obtaining a degree in criminal justice.
A degree in criminal justice doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be hitting the streets as a beat cop or spending long hours in the lab, analyzing data, and anxiously awaiting results. Of course, those are both options, but there are so many potential career paths for you to consider.
If your passions lie in the courtroom, you’ve got several options to look into. The bailiffs we’re used to seeing on TV shows like Judge Judy may seem as if they are simply glorified security guards, but bailiffs play a hugely important role in courtrooms across the country. Not every workplace requires a degree in criminal justice, but holding a bachelor’s degree can open you up to a world of opportunities. As a bailiff, you are responsible for maintaining order in the court.
As a bailiff, you will be tasked with protecting defendants while entering and exiting the courtroom, which can obviously be a challenge given the situation. In some cases, you may even act as security for jury members. As the bailiff, you need to remain unbiased during the proceedings. Often, you are the only thing standing between an individual and the person who has caused them anguish.
This career is exactly what it sounds like, crime analysis. A crime analyst’s primary responsibility is to analyze crime data and statistics. Although you will most likely not be on the scene, you will still play an active role in solving crimes. Through the use of mapping, police reports, and monitoring crime patterns, you will assist law enforcement in properly staffing police, detectives, and everyone in between to ensure all areas or departments are adequately manned. Your analysis will not only help on the front end, but you will aid officers during investigations by providing them useful data analysis in real-time, thoroughly speeding up the time spent on an investigation.
With a focus based on psychology, a criminal profiler will often be able to provide the approximate information investigators are missing. Whether the information is gained from interviews with witnesses, family members, or victims, a criminal profiler is essential to any investigation team. Your interviews will lead to conclusions, helping investigators to close in on a suspect, and close the case.
Crime Scene Investigator
The above suggestions are all viable career paths, but if you aren’t squeamish and don’t mind getting into the dirty details, this may be the job for you. Listed by Forbes as one of “America’s Scariest Jobs,” crime scene investigators are not the faint of heart. Similar to a crime analyst, you too will be analyzing data, but instead of numbers and maps, you will rely more on physical evidence, like blood, hair, and fingerprints. Crime scene investigators (CSIs) are detail-oriented individuals who don’t mind poring over the facts over and over again.
Many accredited colleges and universities offer criminal justice degrees, and in some cases, you may even find a program offering an online criminal justice degree. Earning a degree in the field you love doesn’t mean you’ll have to succumb to mountains of debt and endless years of schooling. Earning your degree online will afford you the opportunity to carry on with your daily life while furthering your future in the meantime.