Law enforcement deals directly with law and the government. People who study criminal justice often intend to become corrections officers or work with police. Because both local and federal governments have such a vested interest in promoting quality and training, there is a glut of opportunities provided directly by the law enforcement agencies that are likely to be long-term job providers.
What is Criminal Justice?
Criminal justice is a broad term that encompasses the whole legal process from investigating crimes to making arrests and then executing sentences. Criminal justice includes the prisons and rehabilitation offices that monitor and assist released convicts. Because the United States currently incarcerates 2.5 million and has a grand total of nearly 7 million people under correction, an enormous and stable career field awaits those who feel they are prepared to meet the demands.
A person who studies criminal justice has the option of training to be a lawyer or to be officers or secretaries that work in courthouses. It is a career path that begins at a very broad doorway, and then the student has the opportunity to explore the many possibilities. As an education progresses, students must choose a specialization. It important to seek an internship, because training is greatly preferred to a general degree, especially for police work.
Police departments are responsible for training their officers. A degree is not enough to earn a badge, and an internship or training program is required to become an officer. The apprenticeship requires the candidate to undergo much the same training as standard officers, unless the applicant is looking for a specialized job such as lab work or investigation. Police departments provide training and experience that is beyond the scope of a university classroom.
The criminal justice system includes the FBI and CIA. Many FBI positions require an education, and internships are often entered into by people who have completed their degree or are nearing completion. Because the federal government requires highly competent and motivated investigation officers, entry depends on good grades and a clean background. The difference with the FBI is that they take applicants from many educational backgrounds, not just criminal justice. Not all qualified applicants are accepted, so this program is competitive.
Prisons are run by states and the federal government. Most prisons are overcrowded and suffer from stresses staff. They employ psychologists and medical health personnel. The Bureau of Prisons has several programs that offer both job placement and unpaid training. Job placement is highly competitive and is open to both high school seniors and to college students. The Psychology Predoctoral Internship Program hires psychology students who are in the final step of their education and bring them into the Bureau for exposure to convicts. The Pathways Program gives young students the chance to experience working for the federal government.
We Want You
The Criminal Justice System is desperate for new candidates who are able to handle the demands of working with inmates and people on parole. The demand is for professionalism and consistent standards, because strict laws regulate how officers may interact with individuals in correction programs. Need creates opportunities in the form of internships, and the motivated student will apply for them.