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How to start your field in the criminal justice system.?

Step by Step.

Thank you comment icon Decide what exactly you want to do in the criminal justice system, lots of different positions available within the system . Is it law enforcement? Judicial? Etc. Thomas Wiggins

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Subject: Career question for you


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Mistie’s Answer

Hi Kendra,

The Criminal Justice field is vast and diverse, offering numerous exciting roles. To kickstart your journey, I suggest taking an assessment that can help identify the position that best aligns with your strengths and weaknesses. This tool can be a great guide to navigate your career path.

Identifying a role that not only suits you but also keeps you engaged in the long run is crucial. Do you see yourself working as an officer or a crime scene investigator (CSI) in the field, a forensic scientist (FS) in a lab, a medical examiner conducting autopsies, or perhaps an attorney defending cases? You can gain more insights into each role through research, discussions with student advisors, attending Citizen academies, participating in ride-alongs, or even volunteering.

A key part of your journey is to gather as much information as you can about your potential job, from salary expectations and duties to benefits. It's important to remember that some roles involve sensitive tasks and require the ability to handle challenging situations. For instance, crime scene investigators often encounter deceased victims, and officers may find themselves in dangerous situations.

If you're certain about a career in Criminal Justice but unsure about the specific role, consider pursuing an associate's degree in CJ. This can provide a solid foundation, allowing you to specialize as you progress. For instance, I initially earned my associate's degree in Administration of Justice but later pursued a bachelor's degree in Biology as I was torn between working as a CSI in the field or as an FS in the lab. This degree catered to both career options.

Lastly, don't hesitate to connect with professionals already working in your area of interest. They can provide valuable insights, both positive and negative, about the role. Following these steps can set you on the path to success in your chosen career. Best of luck on your journey!

Warm regards,
Dr. Mistie Measeles

Mistie recommends the following next steps:

Research positions
Contact a student or career advisor
Contact an agency for information on positions, ride-along, Citizens Academy, or volunteering opportunities
Start looking for CJ programs at colleges
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Diya’s Answer

Hello Kendra,
The first step is to do research and decide what work you want to do within the criminal justice system. A police officer, a lawyer, a paralegal, a judge, a courthouse clerk, a social worker, etc.

Assuming you want to be a lawyer,
Step 2 is find out the requirements for becoming a lawyer by searching online or asking a school advisor. This is true for any job in the criminal justice system that you want.

Step 3 is get an education and go to college. You could start at your local community college, take classes, join your local Rotary Club or law related clubs at school. You can also ask classmates and your professor for associations or mentors who can help you etc. Eventually, you would need to go to a 4-year college, declare yourself pre-Law if they offer that option, and get involved in as many activities as possible: volunteering for a legal aid clinic, getting work experience at a courthouse, taking classes in social work, law, criminal justice, etc.

Step 4: Prepare for and take the LSAT exam

Step 5: Apply to law school. As an engineer, I don’t have more guidance to offer here

Step 6: Get admitted, Build a network, gain work experience in law school

Step 7: Graduate with a Juris Doctorate JD degree.

Step 8: Pass the multi state professional responsibility (MFRE) exam

Step 9: Pass the bar exam for the state in which you want to practice law. If you pass, you receive your law license from the state Bar Association.

Step 10: Find a job as a lawyer. Many options are open.

I’ve provided the general path based on my knowledge and the links below:

This also applies only to the U.S. Not sure about other countries