5 Careers in Criminal Justice
• Corrections Officer
• Probation Officer
• Law Enforcement Officer
Criminal justice careers generally fall into one of two groups: legal or law enforcement. Legal focuses on providing legal services to businesses and individuals as either a public official in the courtroom or an independent legal representative. Law enforcement, on the other hand, has to do with the actual practice of criminal justice like policemen and those in charge of dealing with criminal behavior or criminology. Here are five great criminal justice careers.
1. Corrections Officer
Corrections officers spend their work days in the penal system helping to maintain security within prisons and jails. Their duties may include searching cells, supervising inmates, restraining inmates and preventing escapes and assaults. To become a corrections officer, the candidate only needs a high school diploma or equivalent. Some agencies may require a few college credits and/or work experience. Individuals who wish to work in federal prisons must have at least a bachelor’s degree and complete at least 200 hours of formal training within the first year and attend yearly in-service trainings after that. Many agencies provide academy training or on-the-job training to their corrections officers. As of May 2016, corrections officers earned annual wages of $42,820, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Also called marshals or court officers, bailiffs are the law enforcement officers who provide security and maintain order in courtrooms. Their duties include announcing judges’ arrivals, enforcing courtroom laws, delivering documents, calling witnesses to the stand, guarding juries and calling witnesses to the stand. The educational requirements for bailiffs vary from state to state or even city to city. At the very least, the candidate must have a high school diploma. Some courts may require the individual have some law enforcement training, college courses or military training. Those working at the federal level must have bachelor’s degrees and formal training in specific law enforcement topics like self-defense, firearms use and CPR. Bailiffs earned annual median wages of $42,670 in 2016.
3. Probation Officer
Probation officers work with offenders who were found guilty but given probation rather than jail or prison. Probation officers usually work with either adults or young juveniles but seldom both. Their duties include implementing rehabilitation plans, overseeing drug tests, counseling referrals, making home visits and overseeing electronic monitoring to ensure the offender doesn’t get in any more trouble. Probation officers are usually required to have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or corrections and some related work experience. They may also be required to complete a training program as well as on-the-job training. Probation officers saw a median annual wage of $50,160.
4. Law Enforcement Officer
Law enforcement officers are the individuals the public looks to for protection and help. They’re responsible for preventing crimes, maintaining public safety, interviewing victims and witnesses, and apprehending offenders. Depending on the agency, a law enforcement officer may be required to have a high school diploma and academy training or an associate degree in criminal justice. Before the individual can be sworn in as an officer of the law, the candidate must complete policy academy training, which can take from three months to a year. Law enforcement officers earned a yearly median wage of $59,680 in 2016.
Attorneys pursuing criminal justice careers generally choose to work as prosecutors or defense attorneys. To become an attorney, the individual must complete at least seven years of college. Prior to starting college, the candidate must take the Law School Admission Test. Aspiring attorneys complete a four-year bachelor degree program followed by three years of law school to earn the juris doctor (J.D.) degree. The individual must pass the state’s bar exam to practice law in that state. The BLS states that attorneys earned a median yearly wage of $118,160 in 2016.
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Individuals working in the area of criminal justice continue to be in demand to keep our towns and country safe. This is one of many reasons why criminal justice careers continue to be in demand.