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If you want a career that will really make a difference in the world, think about some of the many options available to you in the field of criminal justice. Criminal justice can be loosely divided into three separate but overlapping categories � law enforcement, the court system and the correction system. No matter what the position, anyone interested in criminal justice as a career path should enjoy working with people and the public and have a high regard for rules and regulations. Many career colleges and universities offer specialized criminal justice degrees, which may lead to one of the options below.

If you are interested in a career in law enforcement, there are city, county, state and federal positions available. Competition is toughest for federal jobs, with the correspondingly higher compensation. Officers may be employed by such agencies as the U.S. Postal Inspectors, U.S. Federal Marshals, State Highway Patrol, County Sheriff�s offices or local police departments. More and more government positions require a four-year degree, although shorter programs are available. Graduate or professional degrees are required for positions as instructors, criminologists and administrators. Police officers are responsible for enforcing statutes, laws and regulations and often spend the bulk of their time interviewing witness and suspects, collecting and analyzing evidence and apprehending fugitives and criminals. Others might spend their time patrolling a designated area in order to preserve the peace and prevent potential criminal activity. Employment is expected to increase faster than average, according the U.S. Department of Labor projections.

Another option for someone interested in criminal justice is to work directly with the court system. Jobs in the court system vary widely in position and salary. If you are interested in becoming a bailiff or working in probation or parole, the path is very similar to that of a person interested in traditional law enforcement. Other positions for people interested in working in the court system include lawyers and their associates, such as legal assistants, paralegals and other support staff. Professional degrees are required for lawyers, while legal assistants and paralegals may graduate from a career college or receive an Associate degree or on-the-job training.

Finally, there is the corrections field. While entry-level pay is quite low, raises are regular and promotion can be quite rapid due to the high turnover. Corrections officers often have a four-year degree, although some positions may require less. Most corrections officers work in state or federal prisons, or as probations officers.

See also Legal and Paralegal and Court Reporting.

courtesy of Career Explorer

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