As far as university and college are concerned, criminal justice degrees are one of the most popular programs in the United States. For example, Dr. Dale Kapla, head of the criminal justice department at Northern Michigan University, says that it is the third most popular degree at the school. Rutgers, Troy, Shippensburg and numerous other universities state that criminal justice programs are one of the top choices on their campuses and late last year Grantham University shared its third most popular online degree was also in criminal justice.
It’s probably not that surprising that criminal justice is all the rage. There are so many subdisciplines within the field, from law enforcement and corrections to law, forensics and homeland security. But if you’re considering taking such a degree, or one that is related, you want to make sure that there is a fulfilling job at the end of your two to four-year or more studies. Let’s take a look at some of the most beloved careers that you might pursue after graduation. (In some cases, a criminal justice or related degree will act as a solid foundation should you need to pursue more schooling, such as in the case of becoming a lawyer or forensic psychologist).
The Most Popular
According to the Colorado Christian University’s “Criminal Justice Careers and Salaries” blog, “Police work, government agency work, and security guard positions are some of the most popular (and rewarding) jobs graduates with a Criminal Justice degree pursue.”
Based on surveying around 1,000 schools in the United States, PayScale.com came out with a list for the most popular careers for criminal justice grads. Here are the top five from 2011:
- Loss Prevention Investigator
- FBI Agent
- Crime Analyst
- Corrections Officer
- Police Detective
The Most Realistic
However, the most popular and the most realistic job prospects are two different things. It is no surprise that PayScale.com revealed FBI Agents were much coveted by criminal justice graduates, but it is extremely competitive to gain employment with this federal department.
Laura Jerpi wrote an interesting article in South University’s May 2011 issue of South Source entitled “Realistic Criminal Justice Careers – Conquering the CSI Effect”. She wrote, based on an interview with the university’s Criminal Justice Department’s interim chair, Denny Power, about some of the more realistic job prospects: “…some of the most common entry-level criminal justice careers include city police officer, juvenile correctional officer, corrections officer, deputy sheriff, probation agent at the state and federal level, border patrol agent, game warden, state police officer, and law enforcement positions in all branches of the armed services.”
Of course, if you aim high and work towards your goal, anything is possible. Whether you want to be an FBI Agent, police officer or a lawyer, if you study hard, gain as much relevant experience as you can, talk to mentors and keep up to date with your prospective field, you have the potential of having the criminal justice career of your dreams.