How to Get Started in Criminal Justice

How to Get Started in Criminal Justice

Most areas of criminal justice involve protecting and helping people, as well as enforcing the local, state and federal laws.  Other fields help people in the court system or look for forensic clues after a person has died. The criminal justice field encompasses many careers*, including:

  • Police and Sheriff Departments
  • Federal Law Enforcement
  • Lawyer
  • Forensic Pathologist
  • Forensic Accountant

Most of these positions require an advanced degree, although local law enforcements don't always require one, but it is recommended for a career in this area.  For some of the career fields, having experience is preferable, but if you have just obtained your degree in one of these fields, you may wonder how to get started in criminal justice.

Choose Your Field
A general degree in criminal justice can be applied to many career paths, including law enforcement and you can use it to apply to law school.  However, before you start your degree program, you should decide which career path you plan to take in the criminal justice field.  Studying in the field in which you want to work will make it easier to find a position in that field.  You can also start looking for opportunities to gain experience in the career field of your choice.

Is Experienced Really Needed?
There will be skills that employers in these career areas will look for, such as people skills, analytic skills, written and oral communication, and computer skills*, but real life experience may not be needed if you plan on working in law enforcement or as an attorney.  The experience in these fields will be obtained on the job after extensive training or getting an advanced degree.

For the areas that involve science or accounting, along with a degree, some experience may be required for these fields.  There are many ways to get experience, including getting internships while you're in college or you can volunteer to help an organization as a bookkeeper and some local law enforcement agencies have auxiliary units staffed with volunteers to help in certain situations, such as search and research.

Entering the military would be another great place to figure out how to get started in criminal justice.  You could enlist prior to attending college or after getting a degree and the military will train you in the field and you will get real life experience.  Having military experience will often help you get a position after you leave the military.

Are you ready to pursue a criminal justice career? Get information on programs in your area and online using our criminal justice degree finder at the top of this page. ↑