Criminal justice degrees are extremely popular today, and they offer people the rewarding opportunity to serve and protect their communities. Over the past few years we have seen an increase in the numbers of students choosing to earn criminal justice degrees, due in part to the broad range of employment opportunities available with this type of education. While many of these careers are quite demanding and challenging, they can also be extremely rewarding and satisfying. There are many different jobs that people with criminal justice degrees may work in, the following careers are some of the most popular choices.
Crime Scene Analysts*
Crime Scene Analysts are those professionals who gather and investigate the evidence left at crime scenes. They must sort, evaluate, and process and collect the evidence while adhering to the specific regulations dictated by the agency in charge. They spend much of their time performing detailed tests on items such as weapons, fibers, hair strands and human tissue. They must have a clear understanding of chain if custody protocols as well as transfer of evidence processes. Crime Scene Analysts must maintain composure and rational thinking in sometimes unpleasant working conditions. They are often times the assistant to the medical examiner or pathologist as well as a liaison between lab technicians, attorneys, other investigators, and the law enforcement agencies. The job outlook for people who choose to work in this field is excellent; experts expect its growth to be much faster than the overall average job growth rate of 14%.
Forensic scientists also investigate crimes by collecting and examining evidence though they are more commonly found in a lab setting. Their main tasks often include analyzing the data collected from a crime scene, facial reconstruction, testifying as an expert witness in court proceedings as well as verifying the authenticity of documents or results. They work closely with both government officials and police detectives, striving to solve crimes in a timely manner. Forensic scientists often handle such sensitive items as firearms, fluid samples and dangerous/ poisonous chemicals. Additionally, a forensic scientist can choose to become certified in one or more specific fields such as Odontology, Ballistics, Biochemistry, or Pathology.
Criminal investigators are responsible for many aspects of” the burden of proof” that go into a criminal prosecution. They determine the scope, timing, resources, and direction of a criminal investigation. Some of their tasks include checking criminal records, conducting inquiries on crimes, developing informant relationships, identifying and obtaining evidence, and conducting inquiries on misconduct of trials and other such accusations. Investigators perform many of the same tasks as police officers; therefore they must know how to operate police radio, carry and use firearms and other law enforcement equipment, as well as obtain and use search or arrest warrants. Occasionally, criminal investigators may need to testify in court pertaining to the processing methods used at crime scenes.
Legal assistants are trained professionals who are the backbones of many legal practices today. Legal assistants cannot practice law, but they do perform many tasks that were once common only to lawyers . More and more often, attorneys of all types are relying on legal assistants to perform these essential tasks. Legal assistants spend much of their time researching cases, electronically filing court documents, drafting legal documents, and organizing and maintaining case files. They may also be required to interview clients and witnesses, prepare case briefs, trial notebooks, and responses to complaints and discovery requests.
The main job of court reporters is to document exact word for word transcripts of legal proceedings, discussions, speeches, and dialogue. They create a document of legal proof of all things spoken verbatim in court proceedings, trials, and meetings using a stenographic. These recorded transcripts of varying situations, require a complete history of all that has been said and identification of all parties involved and at times gestures and reactions must be notated. People who choose to work in this field must have a strong command over the English language, create, customize and maintain a dictionary of phrases , parts of words, entire words, and terminology specific to the proceeding, event, or program recorded. They must also posses excellent listening skills and sharp recollection as they are often called upon to search for information, provide snippets from the transcripts, or real time translations of these notations.
These are just some of the terrific careers that people may choose among if they have criminal justice degrees. While some of these careers may require additional certifications, a criminal justice degree will provide the skills needed and a strong academic foundation to succeed in any chosen field.
*Law enforcement agencies may require additional training and certifications.