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I’m currently a 16 year rising senior and for the past year I’ve been study criminal justice. I’m thinking about going to college for that to further my knowledge but I’m not entirely sure what to do. So my question is what should I do?

I’m currently a 16 year rising senior and for the past year I’ve been study criminal justice. I’m thinking about going to college for that to further my knowledge but I’m not entirely sure what to do. So my question is what should I do?

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Subject: Career question for you


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Doc’s Answer

The field of criminal justice is expansive Shyann. Earning your degree in criminal justice does not always mean you have to go on to become a lawyer. In fact, a criminal justice degree can pave the way to work in advocacy, academia, homeland security, law enforcement and many other related fields.

FBI agents conduct investigations for the Federal Bureau of Investigations. They collect evidence, interview witnesses, and identify suspects. FBI agents often work with local law enforcement agents to arrest or detain suspects. They work at field offices across the country and at the FBI's regional or national headquarters. Careers in federal law enforcement require a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, criminology, or a related field. Agents must also complete specialized training.

Police detectives investigate serious crimes, including property crimes, assault, drug crimes, and homicide. They analyze evidence, interview victims and witnesses, and build cases against suspects. Police detectives document their investigations by writing reports and cataloging evidence. They work closely with district attorneys and judges to ensure legal requirements are met while conducting investigations. Law enforcement jobs like police detective typically require a bachelor's in criminal justice or a closely related field, plus professional experience.

Computer forensic specialists recover materials and data from computers, smartphones, and other digital devices. They rely on software programs and cybersecurity techniques to recover deleted information and corrupted files. Computer forensic specialists working in law enforcement gather information related to criminal activities, create reports based on their findings, and may testify during trials. Computer forensic specialists often hold a bachelor's degree in computer science or criminal justice.

Private detectives, or investigators, assist individuals, corporations and law enforcement agencies locate missing persons, perform thorough research for financial, legal or criminal investigations and discern relevant information for solving cases. The qualifications for private detectives can vary widely depending on the employer. Generally, these professionals must hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a closely related discipline and meet state-specific licensing requirements.

Lawyers (or attorneys) represent parties in civil and criminal trials advising clients regarding their legal rights and obligations. Lawyers act as advisors or advocates offering clients sound business or personal courses of action based upon knowledge of laws, judicial decisions, and research. Lawyers may specialize in one particular field of law, including bankruptcy, international, intellectual property, criminal law, civil law, public interest, insurance, environmental, elder, or probate laws. After you complete your undergraduate degree in criminal justice, for example, you'll be required to complete 3 years of law school to advance to bar examinations and licensing programs necessary to qualify as a attorney.

Can you see yourself in some of these jobs Shyann — The good news is you have options. Criminal justice roles can involve enforcing laws, prosecuting criminals, punishing and rehabilitating offenders, and even assisting in court proceedings. No matter what aspect you’re interested in, there’s a place for you.

Hope this was helpful Shyann
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Mary’s Answer

I would try and intern where this degree could be applied. Talk to your teachers to see where you might encounter these internships. Teachers will give you ideas on where to start and where to apply, especially those teachers that believe in you. The work may be interesting, but you have to know what an actual job would be like before you commit yourself to a degree in the subject. That being said, try to filter in college courses along with your regular classes to get credit.
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James Constantine’s Answer

Hello Shyann,

Exploring Your Options in Criminal Justice

As a rising senior with a keen interest in criminal justice, you have several options to consider as you plan your future career path. Pursuing higher education in criminal justice can open up a wide range of opportunities, but it’s important to carefully consider your options and make informed decisions. Here are some key steps and considerations to help guide your decision-making process:

Research Different Career Paths

Before making any decisions about college or further education, take the time to research the various career paths available within the field of criminal justice. This can include roles in law enforcement, corrections, legal services, homeland security, and more. Understanding the different career options will give you a clearer picture of what you might want to specialize in and what educational path would best support your goals.

Consider Your Interests and Strengths

Reflect on your own interests, strengths, and values. What aspects of criminal justice are most compelling to you? Are you passionate about law enforcement, forensic science, or legal advocacy? Identifying your interests and strengths can help you narrow down potential areas of specialization within the field.

Explore Educational Pathways

Once you have a better understanding of the specific areas within criminal justice that interest you, explore the educational pathways available. Consider whether you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field, or if you’re interested in more specialized programs such as forensic science or criminology. Research different colleges and universities that offer programs aligned with your interests.

Seek Guidance from Professionals

Reach out to professionals working in the field of criminal justice for guidance and advice. This could include speaking with law enforcement officers, attorneys, forensic scientists, or other professionals who can provide insights into their career paths and the educational choices that supported their journeys.

Internship and Volunteer Opportunities

Consider seeking out internship or volunteer opportunities within the criminal justice field. This hands-on experience can provide valuable insights into the day-to-day realities of different roles within the field and help you determine whether a particular career path is the right fit for you.

Networking and Professional Organizations

Start building your professional network by connecting with individuals in the criminal justice field. Joining professional organizations or attending industry events can provide valuable networking opportunities and expose you to a wealth of resources and information about potential career paths.

Consult with Academic Advisors

If you decide to pursue higher education in criminal justice, consult with academic advisors at colleges or universities you’re considering. They can provide guidance on program requirements, course offerings, and potential career pathways within the field.

Remain Open-Minded

Keep an open mind as you explore your options in criminal justice. Your interests and goals may evolve as you gain more exposure to different aspects of the field through research, networking, and hands-on experiences.

Ultimately, choosing a path in criminal justice requires careful consideration of your interests, strengths, and long-term career goals. By thoroughly researching your options, seeking guidance from professionals, and gaining practical experience through internships or volunteer work, you can make informed decisions about your educational and career pursuits.

Top 3 Authoritative Sources Used:

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) - The BLS provides comprehensive data on employment trends, job outlooks, and educational requirements for various careers within the criminal justice field.
American Society of Criminology (ASC) - The ASC offers valuable resources for individuals interested in pursuing careers related to criminology and criminal justice.
National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) - The NCJA provides information on policy issues, training resources, and professional development opportunities within the criminal justice sector.