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What is Criminal Justice?
If you have a desire to help people, are good in crisis situations, and you can perform under stressful conditions, a career in criminal justice could be a good option for you. Criminal justice isn’t just about law enforcement such as police officers, parole officers, or prison guards either, there are plenty of other careers that fall under the category.
Criminal justice professionals often work on both sides of the system. Some work investigating crime and dealing with perpetrators that have to be tracked down and apprehended, while others work with those who have been impacted by crime, such as victims and their family members. There are also those who work with people who are rebuilding their lives after they’ve been incarcerated and are released or going through the early stages of addiction recovery. These professionals are trained in investigation techniques that ultimately ensure that everyone involved is treated in a fair manner. Criminal justice professionals can work in the prison system, as law enforcement officers, social workers, counselors, and on a local, state, or federal level. These professionals should possess excellent writing skills, as they have to document all their activities when working on cases and, at times, may be required to testify in court either on behalf or against individuals facing legal problems.
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Criminal Justice Education in Delaware
For example, most emergency management and first responder careers fall into the criminal justice category, so it’s not all about capturing and guarding criminals. Other careers that often work through or with the criminal justice system include private investigators, social workers, and paralegals. The people these careers deal with aren’t necessarily criminals, but many are in desperate need of assistance. So, there is a lot you can do with a criminal justice education in Delaware.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for workers in the criminal justice field is going to increase between now and 2029, so there is no better time than now to get started on your education. There are currently over 10,000 people employed in protective services in some compacity in Delaware and, in many areas, the demand for more works, such as social workers and rehabilitation specialists is expected to grow faster than the average job growth rate. Security guards, police officers, and other protective service workers will also be in high demand. And, because Delaware’s biggest industries are finance, business, and real estate, this indicates that white collar crimes exist and will also need to be investigated; people stressed by their prominent careers might have substance abuse and emotional issues, natural disasters will still occur, and children still need to be protected. So, whether you’re interests lie in keeping children safe or being on the front lines when a disaster strikes, a career in criminal justice in Delaware could be in your sights in the near future.
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Associate Degree in Criminal Justice (ADCJ)
With a two-year degree in criminal justice, most people can work as police officers and prison guards. Police officers must go through the police academy, but the degree can make promotions happen more quickly.
A two-year degree in criminal justice can prepare a person to do a variety of jobs and it provides an advantage for those who plan to attend a police academy or become prison guards. A degree means that an officer can be promoted in a timelier manner than someone who does not have a degree.
Students enrolled in a two-year program will take courses that cover topics such as:
- Criminal Justice
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Eyewitness Testimony
- Criminal Investigation
Associate degrees typically take two years to complete and, when or if the student chooses, the credits earned with the associate degree can often be transferred to a bachelor’s degree.
Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice (BCJ)
How a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice will help you depends on what you want to do. If you already work in the criminal justice field, moving through the ranks of your current job and being promoted are possibilities. It’s also an ideal move if you want to combine your criminal justice experience with another field, such as cyber security or forensic science. You could also be eligible to teach at some community colleges and technical schools. And, if you want to become a detective or move into an administrative position, a bachelor’s degree is often required.
Some of the subjects taught in a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice include:
- Criminal Investigation
- Criminal Justice Reform
- Homeland Security
Master's Degree in Criminal Justice (MCJ)
A graduate degree in criminal justice can lead to teaching positions and the training of other law enforcement personnel at academies. For those who want to move into white collar crime investigation, they could combine criminal justice with business and finance and work in cyber security, loss prevention, or forensic accounting. The degree also lends enough credibility to freelance as a private investigator or move into administrative positions at various law enforcement agencies.
PhD Degree in Criminal Justice (DCJ)
In most instances, a doctorate degree is not needed to work in criminal justice, unless the someone wants to teach at the highest level or stives to become a psychologist or work in forensics in some capacity. However, those looking to work in law as a lawyer or judge will want to look into the highest available levels of education. Additionally, those looking to teach I these fields will also have a vested interest in gaining a terminal degree so that they can teach at the best schools and gain tenure.
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Become a Criminal Justice Professional in Delaware
Unlike some careers that have a clear path to follow to achieve a goal, criminal justice professionals can take a variety of paths to achieve their objective. The first thing a person should do is decide what they want to do and for whom they want to work. For example, if a person wants to become a detective, then they need to go to the police academy, graduate, become a police officer, attain a bachelor’s degree, and then, after a few years of work experience, take the detective exam. If a person wants to work for the FBI, they often need a four-year degree and experience working either as an officer or extensive military experience.
Once a person determines what he wants to ultimately achieve, they should tailor their education around that goal. People who want to work in cyber security should get an education in both information technology and criminal justice, because they’ll need the skills to understand the technology as well as the ability to know laws and have the tools to properly investigate crimes. For those who want to instruct others, an education in how to train others as well as an understanding of how people learn will help them achieve their goals.
Once a person has a goal and the education to back it up, it’s a matter of working toward that goal. Being excellent at one’s job and proving themselves worthy of promotions and consideration for new positions is a good way to move forward. It’s also not uncommon for a person to start out with one goal but change direction and follow a new path.
Careers for Criminal Justice Graduates
Careers in criminal justice can take many forms. Listed below are several examples of the types of jobs you could have with an education in criminal justice.
- Emergency Management Coordinator
An emergency management coordinator works with local agencies to assist the public when there is a crisis. Whether it’s damage from a tornado, hurricane, flood, fire, or some other emergency situation, the emergency management coordinator works to ensure that all citizens are safe and that their needs are met. Coordinators have to work will all first responder agencies such a police and fire, as well as state and federal agencies such as FEMA. So, the ability to get along with a variety of people is a must.
- Forensic Accountant
When a crime of the financial nature occurs, law enforcement often brings in people who are specially trained to follow the money, either through paper transactions or computer programs and bank records. These people are called forensic accountants. They know how to look for clues that can help investigators follow money trails and recover stolen funds or accounts criminals have hidden. A combination of investigative skills and financial knowledge are required.
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- Forensic Psychologist
Forensic psychologists work with those accused of committing crimes and, using psychometrics most often, may determine if the person is mentally stable enough to stand trial, as well as comprehend the crime they committed. This profession requires an understanding of the law as well as education in the field of psychology and work experience as a therapist.
- Homeland Security Professional
These professionals enforce the laws under the province of the Department Homeland Security. This includes investigating threats made against the country, drug deals that cross international lines, and other threats both foreign and domestic.
- State Trooper
State troopers are police officers who work for the state. They do investigate crime, but much of their time is spent ensuring that the highways are safe for everyone. In some states they are referred to as highway patrol officers. Unlike police officers or sheriff deputies, these officers don’t just work for the part of the state they patrol. They work for the entire state and have jurisdiction to investigate cases throughout the state.
- Corrections Officer
Correction officers work within the prison system. They assist with the maintenance and operation of prisons and jails as well as implement programs for inmates. Corrections officers may have experience in the military, or they might have pursued this career path out of high school. Some decide to go into law enforcement.
- Probation Officer
People who are released from jail or are being punished without serving jail time must report to probation officers. These people ensure that those on probation are following the guidelines of their probation and, if not, report back to the courts.
- Parole Officer
These officers work with citizens who have been released from prison and assist with their transition back into the outside world. Parolees report to this officer on a regular basis. They ensure that their charges are acting within the parameters of their parole and assist where possible if a parolee is trying to comply but is experiencing resistance. In the case where a parolee isn’t complying, the parole officer can report this to the court and their parole can be revoked, sending them back to jail to serve the rest of their time.