If you have a desire to work within the legal world, or work to maintain our society's safety, then continue reading below to learn all you can about this possible career path. A traditional four year college or university that offers a criminal justice certificate or degree program will have you completing course work related to criminal justice policing, statistics, methods of research, and the various court systems. You will also spend time studying criminal law, community corrections, juvenile justice, corrections, and criminal procedure.
Depending on which learning institution you attend, there may be a significant amount of studies related to practical policing skills as well as to our society's social deviance issues. Successful completion of this course work can result in you obtaining a bachelor of criminal justice degree or certificate.
Remember, a degree in criminal justice is quite different from a degree in criminology. Should you decide to focus your studies on criminology you will spend much of your time learning about the causes of a crime, criminal behavior in general, crime as a social occurrence, and any other aspects of crime.
Overall, criminal justice refers to the procedures and institutions set up by our government that aims to uphold social control. This ultimately involves discouraging and mitigating crime as well as sanctioning those who break the law by having them fulfill criminal consequences or rehabilitation plans. In the United States, the criminal justice system contains three important parts.
The legislative branch of our criminal justice system is responsible for creating the laws that citizens are expected to abide by. The adjudication portion refers to the court systems, which works to deal with offenders in a fair and just manner. The corrections section of our criminal justice system includes the jails and prisons, as well as the probation and parole departments. Each portion of our criminal justice system works together as a means of maintaining the law within our society.
Should you decide to join the criminal justice system as a law enforcement agent (police), you will likely be the first person an offender comes in contact with. It will be your responsibility to investigate someone who is suspected of wrong doing and to make an arrest accordingly. Police officers work to enforce the law and keep the peace within a given jurisdiction. If you think working within the court system will suit you better, there are several options available for you in that sector. Each type of court system (civil court, family court, etc.) requires that a judge, defense attorney, and a prosecutor be present. While the judge is an individual who is elected, both the defense attorney and the prosecutor simply need a law degree in order to practice law.
The prosecutor, who often works in the district attorney's office, is a lawyer who acts on charges brought against an individual, a group of people, or a company. The defense attorney, however, works with the accused to suggest legal strategies and counsel them on the necessary process. It is the defense attorney's responsibility to represent the best interests of the client and to raise evidentiary or procedural issues. Research any of the criminal justice schools below to get started pursuing your educational dreams.
Start your training in Criminal Justice and it will open up different career paths for you to pursue. Many students upon graduation look into fields as security guards, private investigators, armed guards at prisons or even bounty hunters. If you are looking to get into law enforcement then we recommend additional training, one that requires a degree.
Your first job if you possess a certificate in criminal justice will more than likely be that of any of the above jobs. Your pay will be low at first when you first start in these positions but will increase the more education you receive and longer you stay on the job. Police offers and sheriffs would be the career most decide upon when entering this field and additional training is necessary.
Many graduates have found employment at the local, state or even federal level. This in-demand career is one you can be proud of.
When you start your certificate program in Criminal Justice you’ll study and cover lots of different topics which might include:
- Forensic Science
- The Judicial System
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Fundamentals of Law and Practice
- White Collar Crimes
- Domestic Violence
- the Correctional Systems and Prisons
- Report Writing
- Juvenile Justice System
- Ethics in Criminal Justice
When researching schools you’ll first want to determine if any of the schools listed has a campus location near you. If not you’ll want to see if they offer an online criminal justice certificate. Many of the schools listed do and they might also offer other similar programs such as homeland security or corrections management training.
Accreditation is also an important thing when looking into any school you want to attend. Being an accredited criminal justice school means you as a student have certain protections in the event you can’t finish, the school goes under or you wish to continue with your education at a different school. Probably the biggest of any is the credit transferability issue. Let’s say you earn your criminal justice certificate and wish to continue on and earn our degree. If the school you attended doesn’t offer a degree and you wish to transfer to another school as long as both schools are accredited (hopefully by the same accrediting agency) then you should have a smooth transfer. Problems come up if you are trying to transfer non-accredited credits to a new school.
Criminal Justice Resources:
National Criminal Justice Association
American Criminal Justice Association