Acquiring a job in the criminal justice industry can put you on one of the most fulfilling career paths available, allowing you the opportunity to work for the betterment of your community every day.
To keep the peace and assure the safety of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty, professionals in law enforcement, the legal system, social work, and forensic science are required.
For those with a clean record and a two-year associate’s degree in criminal justice, the good news is that many of these opportunities are still available. Rather than needing a four-year degree, you might be part of the solution after just two years of college training and contribute to keeping roadways safe in a position that offers good benefits and promotion opportunities.
Criminal Justice Jobs
Although the profession most usually thought of in the criminal justice area is undoubtedly a position in law enforcement, criminal investigators and police officers are merely a few of the positions necessary to keep the legal system working properly.
Jobs in the criminal justice system include prevention (such as youth counsellors or security officers), prosecution (legal aides and paralegals who work closely with the courts), victim advocates, correctional officers (who keep order in prisons, jails, and detention facilities), and parole officers.
In truth, the criminal justice system relies on everyone from an insurance investigator to a crime scene technician whose primary responsibility is to preserve the rules of the road.
The Associate Degree in Criminal Justice
The fields of criminal justice and criminology (the study of crime and how it impacts society) encompass a wide range of specialities, requiring education ranging from a high school diploma to a doctorate.
Lawyers, judges, psychologists who research criminal behaviour, and forensic anthropologists spend years specialising in their field and gaining graduate degrees, but their work would be impossible without a devoted team of experienced technicians, assistants, analysts and officers. In addition to a strong passion for justice, all of these perspectives share a background in law.
This knowledge is acquired at the most basic level through an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice, a two-year programme that combines a standard college curriculum (math, composition, etc.) with specialised criminal justice studies. Courses in criminal justice administration, criminal psychology, and the history of law enforcement agencies are all common in criminal justice programmes.
In most cases, general education courses in law and society are also necessary, while elective courses in areas of expertise like correctional or homeland security may also be available. The ability to gain additional on-the-job experience is one of the many advantages of earning an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice, which is increasingly appealing to potential employers.
Top Ten Best Positions in Criminal Justice at the Associate Level
With so many dramatically varied pathways to explore within a criminal justice career, it might be tough to choose an area of expertise. What type of job would you prefer: working in a law firm or in the criminal justice system? Do you envision yourself working with disturbed adolescents, or are you more interested in obtaining a position at a correctional facility? All of these occupations have their own distinct advantages and requirements.
In order to produce the following list of the Top 10 Associate Level Criminal Justice Jobs, three specific criteria were taken into consideration: compensation, the opportunity for development, and general work outlook.
Education requirements for police personnel vary by agency, and there are often higher requirements for police detectives than for uniformed patrol officers. Generally, police officers are expected to finish training at an agency’s police school in addition to the degree they possess in criminal justice.
Recruits at the school receive classes in civil rights, ordinances and laws, and they also learn technical procedures like emergency response and firearms training. After completing their training, police officers are tasked with enforcing local laws, issuing traffic tickets, appearing in court, and making arrests.
Police officers are also obliged to respond to emergency and non-emergency calls, and they need great written communication skills in order to properly document incidents and file relevant reports.
In May 2012, the median annual wage for police and sheriff’s patrol officers was $55,270, according to the US Department of Labor. Average yearly earnings for detectives and criminal investigators are slightly higher, at $74,300.
Most police detectives and criminal investigators begin as patrol officers and work their way up, suggesting that there is a good chance for career progression within the police force.
There will always be a demand for law enforcement personnel at all levels. While the job picture for patrol officers is improving, it is only modestly. This kind of career security, coupled with a predicted growth in available positions between now and 2022, places this position at the top of the 10 best Associate Level Criminal Justice Jobs.
A career as a paralegal, which is essentially a legal assistant that helps lawyers prepare for trials, hearings, and other legal inquiries, can be built on the foundation of an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice.
Paralegals produce draughts of documents, analyse the minutiae of testimonies, and sometimes function as research assistants to find legislation important to certain situations.
The majority of paralegals augment their criminal justice degrees with internships, and these can lead to permanent work in law firms, charitable groups and government agencies.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the average yearly pay of a paralegal at roughly around $40,000 but suggests that paralegals working for larger private businesses can make substantially more.
Additionally, the demand for paralegals looks to be rising above normal, as law firms realise that recruiting these adaptable professionals is just as efficient (and considerably more cost-effective) than hiring both legal secretaries and lawyers.
In addition, many corporations are staffing in-house legal departments with paralegals to attempt and decrease their legal expenses, indicating that prospects for qualified paralegals extend far beyond the typical legal setting.
Competition for higher-paying paralegal professions can be strong, but you can be a viable candidate for this lucrative employment if you have an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice and are working toward certification through the National Association of Legal Assistants.
When it comes to enforcing the law and keeping convicts safe from harm, no one does it better than the correctional officers on the beat. Within prison walls, correctional officers are responsible for managing contraband and convict behaviour, as well as aiding in rehabilitation and the resolution of prisoner conflicts.
Correctional officers are often required to complete further training in order to work for state or local departments of corrections. Correctional personnel, like police officers, undergo training in self-defence and security procedures, as well as rules governing how inmates and staff interact within prisons.
Most correctional officers are promoted to supervisory roles on a regular basis or take advantage of openings in allied fields like parole or probation to further their careers. The median annual income for an entry-level correctional officer was $38,970 in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, but salaries increased with career development.
With each passing year, the population in public and private prisons and jails becomes larger and larger. For those with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice, these rising numbers may sound alarming, but they show that there will always be a demand for qualified correctional officers, making this a job that is unlikely to go away very soon.
Private detectives and investigators work in a range of situations, helping lawyers, companies, and individual clients learn the truth about people’s past, locate missing persons, and investigate unsolved crimes or criminal allegations.
Law firms frequently use private investigators to confirm facts or establish the credibility of witnesses, and insurance companies also use P.I.s to investigate possible fraudulent claims.
Depending on the type of job they are involved in, private investigators might spend a large amount of their time in the field, undertaking surveillance, or they might operate out of an office, following online research and investigating computer crimes.
Most states require private investigators to be properly certified, and the majority of them have criminal justice backgrounds. Private investigators can earn up to $79,000 a year, but the average salary was $45,740 in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There has been an increase in the need for private investigators as a result of growing awareness of identity theft and other cybercrimes, including internet scams and insurance fraud, according to The 2014 Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Since developments in computer technology will only cause these forms of crime to escalate in the future, the necessity for private investigators could witness a continuous rise between now and 2022.
Fish and Game Warden
The primary responsibilities of fish and game wardens are to enforce rules pertaining to fishing, hunting, and boating. A fish and game warden’s primary responsibility is to patrol wilderness and outdoor recreation areas to ensure that all applicable hunting, fishing, and boating regulations are observed.
Fish and game wardens may also coordinate and respond to search and rescue calls, investigate accidents, and look into complaints connected to fish and wildlife upkeep, such as damage to crops caused by wildlife.
It is also the role of fish and game wardens to educate the public on existing game rules, collect biological data, and promote boating safety. While not all states require a bachelor’s degree in wildlife management or a closely related field to be a fish and game warden candidate, all game warden recruits must attend a training academy before being hired.
Cadets of the Game Warden Training Academy receive instruction in a variety of vocational processes, such as boat operation and maintenance, water rescue, firearms training, and other security measures.
Typically, state and federal agencies offer higher salaries than local groups, and there are generally better chances for professional progression in larger agencies. The typical yearly income for a fish and wildlife warden was $49,730 in 2010.
Regardless of the fact that hundreds of new game warden posts are added annually at both the federal and state level, job growth in this profession has shown relatively little development but the demand to retain this critical workforce has remained a constant.
Fire Inspectors and Investigators
Even though they share a profession, fire inspectors and investigators pursue criminal justice in vastly different ways.
Fire inspectors investigate to make sure organisations and individuals are complying with federal and state fire codes, and they are responsible for reporting code breaches and any fire hazards that they detect.
Inspectors extensively evaluate evacuation plans, and gasoline storage facilities, and test to make sure all fire prevention equipment is in working order. Fire inspectors will return if necessary to ensure that any breaches of fire safety have been remedied.
While fire inspectors focus mostly on fire prevention, fire investigators aim to discover the causes of fires that have already occurred. To discover the cause of a fire, fire investigators gather evidence on the site, speak with witnesses, and examine the results of laboratory tests.
Fire investigators are also responsible for recording the incident, preserving detailed records and evidence for legal actions, and testifying in court as to their conclusions. Private companies and insurance companies use fire investigators to verify claims and rule out arson.
After they earn their associate degree, fire inspectors and investigators are generally certified by a national organisation such as the National Fire Protection Association or the National Association of Fire Investigators. Many fire inspectors and investigators also have some expertise in firefighting or law enforcement.
Because local governments employ the vast majority of fire inspectors and investigators, the US Department of Labor estimates that employment in this profession will only rise slowly in the near future.
There will be a growth in the need for inspectors and investigators when the housing market begins to revive and new buildings are constructed on a larger scale On average, fire inspectors and investigators may expect to make somewhere about $50,000 per year, with certain occupations paying over $87,000 yearly.
Crime Scene Technician
There are certain agencies that simply demand an associate degree in forensic technology if the individual has adequate experience in the field and laboratory, and this is also known as a “Forensic Science Technician” by various federal and state organisations.
Crime scene technicians have strong expertise in science, chemistry, and biology, and they need to be highly detail-oriented in order to prepare evidence to be used in criminal investigations.
Crime Scene Technicians document and photograph every part of a crime scene, collecting evidence such as fingerprints, blood, and any other bodily fluids that may be present. It is the obligation of the Crime Scene Technician to catalogue and preserve all evidence for use in future criminal trials.
Some Crime Site Technicians are also in charge of conducting laboratory analyses of evidence gathered at the scene and presenting those results in court, depending on the agency they work for.
Crime Scene In terms of annual salary, technicians can earn anywhere from $32,000 to $85,000, depending on their degree and experience. However, the average salary for a technician is around $50,000. Law enforcement will increasingly rely on forensic evidence in criminal prosecutions even if job growth in forensic science is expected to be modest overall.
Bailiffs are sworn in to ensure the safety of the courtroom and the public while cases are being heard and trials are being held. Much like an officer at a penal facility or a highly specialised security officer, bailiffs distribute documents, guard juries, and enforce the norms of the courtroom.
Bailiffs, commonly known as “court officers,” are also responsible for bringing witnesses to the stand, presenting them with the oath, and calling the court to order by announcing the entrance of the judge.
Bailiffs frequently get the same training as other correctional officials and have the same prospects for advancement or transfer. Because bailiffs operate largely in a court of law, they often do not encounter the same levels of worry or illness brought on by employment within a jail facility.
Bailiffs make about $36,000 a year on average. The job growth rate for bailiffs is the same as for correctional officers, however, bailiffs have fewer chances to work with private enterprises.
Police dispatchers don’t need a degree in criminal justice to work, but those who do have some knowledge of the law and criminal activity will have an advantage. Take emergency and non-emergency calls, and determine the best way for emergency first-responders. Police dispatchers are responsible.
Because most police dispatchers also work with firefighters and EMT responders, it’s usually necessary for dispatch to evaluate which of the three emergency services is required, if not all three at once.
Police dispatchers will radio the position and condition of the caller to the responding agencies, monitor the status of the first-responding agencies and sometimes offer medical advice over the phone until the responders arrive.
The majority of police dispatchers are employed by governments at the state and local levels, although a small number work for private security companies, monitoring alarm systems and alerting authorities as necessary. Police dispatchers are also responsible for communicating between jurisdictions to transfer information among law enforcement authorities.
Specialized equipment and high-risk processes necessitate training for Police Dispatch Operators, and many agencies require additional continuing education hours every couple of years. Police and emergency dispatchers will be in high demand over the next decade due to an older population and new developments in emergency communications.
When a job like dispatching for the police or emergency service is as stressful as this one, it’s not surprising that the number of dispatchers who need to be replaced is considerable. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, police dispatchers earned a median annual income of $36,300, depending primarily on the agency for which they worked.
Security officers conduct a number of jobs based on the area in which they work. Campus security professionals maintain order on college campuses, respond to student complaints and violations, and patrol to protect the safety of students and college property.
Customers’ safety, access control, and property protection are all responsibilities of a company’s security officers. Most of the time, security agents work in concert with other law enforcement officials, keeping shoplifters until the police come or producing detailed witness testimonies for use in criminal court.
For the most part, security officers either walk the perimeter of a facility to check credentials and keep an eye on surveillance equipment, or they are stationed at a fixed position (such as a gatehouse or security desk).
Because the work circumstances for security personnel can vary to such an extreme degree, the training necessary can be varied for each role. In general, all security officers receive some type of on-the-job training, but particular security training can involve everything from computer systems to firearms training.
Jobs in private security are predicted to expand a large amount in the next ten years as many people and private corporations hire additional security teams to supplement police protection. Many security professionals go on to start their own businesses as a result of the good career prospects in the field.
In 2010, the median yearly income for a security officer was $24,020, however armed guards generally make greater wages, and those officers who hold an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice are often favoured for development.
Regardless of the role, you select in the criminal justice system, you can rest assured that your job will be a vital one in protecting the safety and wellbeing of your community.
With an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice, you’ll be well-positioned to obtain first-hand experience in your chosen industry, build key contacts, and contribute to the greater good while also furthering your own professional aspirations and aspirations in life.
With an Associate Degree in Criminology or Criminal Justice, you open the door to professional opportunities that can be financially rewarding as well as personally enjoyable and give you access to some of the most fascinating and significant work opportunities now accessible.