Finding the Perfect Criminology or Criminal Justice Career

With such a large variety of career options available within the fields of criminology and criminal justice, you'd think finding the perfect job would be a cinch. Well, many aspiring career professionals find just the opposite to be true. The criminology and criminal justice fields are so diverse, it's often a daunting, if no overwhelming, task to narrow the search down to just one job. So where should you begin?

What Are You Passionate About?
Criminology and criminal justice are both exciting, engaging and stimulating career fields. Most people that aspire to careers in either field – in addition to having a strong desire to better society – at some level are looking forward to the unique atmosphere and high pace environment these jobs bring. The fields of criminology and criminal justice are made up of men and women who are passionate about what they do. To find the perfect criminology or criminal justice career you need to discover what you're passionate about. Do you love research? Do you like performing in-depth analysis? Are you a problem solver? Do you excel in administration? Do you like to train people? Are you a technology wiz? Are you passionate about foreign languages and cultures? Or are you just itching to get your hands dirty? As you explore what motivates and moves you, these are just a few of the questions you can consider.

Within the fields of criminal justice and criminology, there are a myriad of specialties. Within each specialty there are sub-specialties. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is just one agency within the field of criminal justice. Within the FBI there are Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) members, Special Agents, Linguists, and Professional Staff Members. Within each of these specialties there are even more specialties. In the Professional Staff division of the FBI there are Intelligence Analysts, IT Professionals, Engineers, Linguists, Business Managers, Police Officers, Accountants, Investigators, Graphic Designers, PR Managers, and many more. The list goes on and on – and that's just one division of one specialty within the FBI, which is just one of many criminal justice agencies nationwide.

Before you can even begin to determine which criminology or criminal justice career is right for you, you need identify your strengths and interests. Before you can find the perfect fit, you need to find where your passion and abilities intersect.

Become Who You Need to Be
After you've determined a career path, the next step is to get qualified. The fields of criminology and criminal justice employ some of the brightest and most highly qualified professionals in world. Many of the positions are very competitive. However, these fields are also very diverse and offer a large array of entry-level job opportunities. If you want to become a criminologist that profiles criminals, you're going to need a master's degree (if not doctorate) in psychology or a related field of study. If you're aspiring to the position of patrol officer, you need nothing more than a high school diploma or a two-year associate's degree to get your foot in the door.

Positions in forensic psychology, accounting, finance, research, analysis or education are more than likely going to require a college degree at the master's or doctoral level. If you're passionate about becoming a forensic psychologist but don't see eight years of postgraduate study in your future you may need to become passionate about a different specialty, that is, if you're certain you want to work in the field of criminal justice or criminology.

Start The Job Search
Once you've prepared yourself to meet the requirements of a career in criminology or criminal justice, it's time to start looking for an actual position. While the competition is intense for most positions, the good news is that there are so many openings in these fields that you're sure to find a good job sooner or later. There are career opportunities for criminology and criminal justice professionals at local, state and federal levels of government in municipalities, cities and states throughout the nation. Best of all, with the advent of the Internet, most local, state and federal agencies list all current job openings online. In addition to government, there are various career opportunities in the private sector. Many corporations actively recruit and hire criminal justice professionals to fill investigative, security, loss prevention and analytical positions. Independent security firms, consulting agencies, and insurance companies are just a few of the private corporations and companies that actively recruit and hire criminology and criminal justice professionals.

One of the perks of a career in criminal justice or criminology is that once you've completed a career in government and retire with your pension, you're likely to get recruited by a private firm looking to take advantage of your experience and the skill set you've developed.

Be Proactive
If you want to have a successful job search and find the perfect career, there's no substitute for good old fashioned footwork and initiative. Start knocking on doors. If you're interested in a position in local law enforcement then go to the police station and introduce yourself to the sheriff. Visit your local court house to look for publicly listed job postings. Collect and fill out applications. Follow up with phone calls. Set up interviews. Speak with other industry professionals. Put yourself out there, make yourself known, and network, network, network. Networking with professionals already working in the industries, agencies and divisions where you want to work is going to be one of the most effective ways of getting your foot in the door.

At the end of the day finding the perfect criminology or criminal justice career is all about you. If you really have what it takes to succeed in these fields, you have what it takes to get your foot in the door and land the perfect career.

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