5 Things You Need to Know Before Studying Criminal Justice

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If you’ve always desired to work in the field of Criminal Justice, we applaud you! This line of work isn’t always for the faint of heart. Fighting crime and contributing to making society a better place can be mentally and physically challenging depending on the type of work you do in the field.

Criminal Justice has a variety of branches you can pick and choose from. Whether you prefer to investigate behind a desk or get out into the field, the possibilities are endless. Jobs in the Criminal Justice field are everywhere. They can be found on all levels from private, county, state, and federal, state.

Criminology vs. Criminal Justice

Criminology and criminal justice both deal with criminals and law enforcement. That is almost where their similarities end. Criminal justice deals with all aspects of a crime from the time the crime is committed right up until the criminal is found guilty and sent to prison. Criminal justice covers all areas of the American justice system.

Criminology deals not so much with the actual crime but rather with why it happened. What made the criminal do what he or she did? Criminology is very similar to sociology in that it focuses on researching criminal’s minds to learn what makes them commit crimes and how to prevent them in the future. Criminal justice just deals with what to do after the crime is committed.

Criminal Justice Job Outlook

The field of criminal justice is large and career opportunities are many. A criminal justice degree can be your point of entry into a law degree program, or enable you to work in politics, academia, advocacy, corrections, homeland security, or law enforcement—to name just a few criminal justice jobs.

The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the highest levels of employment in the Criminal Justice field are: colleges and universities, junior colleges,

Many jobs in law enforcement or criminal justice are public sector jobs. Unfortunately, crime is a fact of life that doesn’t take holidays or downtime. If you choose to work for a government agency you will be considered a public servant in which case your position is not as volatile since it isn’t as dependent on the ups and downs of the economy or a tough job market, as is the case with private sector positions.

In addition, criminal justice professionals who work for the U.S. Department of Justice have good benefits including, health insurance, life insurance, training, and tuition assistance, paid holidays, and sick leave.

5 Things You Should You Know About A Career In Criminal Justice

Know the Law

This is an important one. If you are looking to “clean up” society, you want to be sure that you’re doing it the right way. Knowing the law is critical to making the right judgment. In order to work on behalf of the law, then you need to know the law! Some people might be under the misconception that you only need to know the law if you study to become a paralegal or attorney, but that is not the case.

Any job in the Criminal Justice field is going to require some knowledge of the law. Florida National University (FNU), a regionally accredited university has a great bachelor’s degree program in Criminal Justice Studies that offers the following courses in law:

  • Introduction to Criminal Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • The Law of Evidence
  • Criminal Law
  • Tort Law
  • Correctional Law

Know and Understand the Roles within The Judicial System

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just know the law. You also have to understand the roles within the judicial system and why it’s so important for professionals in this industry to know the law, and most importantly, how it applies to their field of work. Having a better understanding of how things work within the judicial system, like when cases are transferred to another department or entity is a vital part of the system. It’s also important to understand how your role fits into the judicial system, what your role will be, and how you’ll be enforcing the law in your position. Obtaining a bigger picture of the judicial system as a whole will give you a better perspective of how you can contribute to the criminal justice profession.

You’ll Need More Than the Law On Your Side

Along with the law and common sense, there are other skills that will be exceptionally useful working in the field of Criminal Justice. Skills like critical thinking, public speaking, and multi-tasking are all talents needed in this field of work. In the realm of Criminal Justice, a great deal of work involves solving problems. In order to do this well, you’re going to need to take some basic college courses like:

  • Introduction to Statistics
  • College Study Skills
  • Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation, Criminal Procedures
  • Methods of Research in Criminal Justice

Get Experience

As aforementioned, most of the higher paid jobs in the field of Criminal Justice are promoted from within. For high-level positions in Criminal Justice, you need to make sure that you’ve established a good resume that shows you have the experience to take on more responsibilities in this particular field of work.

It’s Not Like Television

For some people, they’ve decided that they want to pursue a career in Criminal Justice based on television shows they’ve seen. Sometimes TV shows glorify the criminal justice world in such a way where it may seem fun and even glamorous to work in, but the reality is the amount and type of crimes that are being committed around the world, and in your community are alarming, to say the least. This can oftentimes place some type of psychological stress on some professionals. This is why we say that this field of work—depending on which branch you choose to work in, isn’t always for the faint of heart.

Best Jobs in Criminal Justice

These are just a handful of jobs within the criminal justice field. Other careers related to studying criminal justice include:

  • Police Officers
  • Corrections Managers
  • Fire Investigators
  • Customs Officials

The first step to taking a career path in criminal justice is to gain the education and knowledge needed to thrive in these careers. Those interested in these options should begin by studying criminal justice from an accredited university, such as Florida National University (FNU). Get started with an Associate of Arts degree, or go all out to obtain your Bachelor of Science.


A criminal lawyer represents a defendant in the criminal court system at the federal, state, and local levels. Criminal lawyers may work on many cases at once, counseling clients on the best course of action. They also spend time gathering evidence via eyewitness accounts, police reports, and any other information relevant to the case at hand. Other tasks a criminal lawyer performs on the job include:

  • Performing legal research
  • Creating exhibits for demonstrations in court
  • Creating arguments against the prosecution’s charges
  • Examining the crime scene

Students interested in this career should enroll in a criminal justice program to absorb the most academic knowledge possible before heading to law school. Studying criminal justice as an undergrad is a right foundation to pursue this career.

FBI Agents

The career path of an FBI Agent is an interesting one that requires additional training after receipt of a Criminal Justice Studies degree. FBI agents conduct sensitive investigations into matters such as terrorism, cyber-crime, white-collar crime, civil rights violations, extortion, and other violations of federal statutes. Some of the duties they may perform include:

  • Research
  • Undercover investigations
  • Filling out reports
  • Testifying in federal court
  • Gathering evidence


Judges oversee the legal process in the court of law and determine whether an individual is charged with a crime. The position is a demanding one, requiring a judge to sit in the courtroom for extended periods of time and give their undivided attention to each case; but it is a rewarding career. This position takes a number of years of experience and expertise in law. Once achieved, a judge will serve a fixed, renewable term, ranging from 4 to 14 years.

Private Investigators

There are a myriad of specific kinds of private investigators including financial investigators, legal investigators, computer forensic investigators, and corporate investigators. Each of these careers is distinct in his/her own regards.

  • Financial Investigators focus on collecting financial information for individuals and companies that are attempting to make large transactions or in order to recover damages awarded by a court.
  • Legal investigators arrange criminal defenses, locate witnesses, and serve legal documents.
  • Computer Forensic Investigators will recover deleted emails, documents, and photographs. This also involves presenting the information found on a computer as evidence.
  • Corporate Investigators can conduct internal investigations for corporations such as drug use in the workplace and examine expense accounts to ensure that they are not being misused. They can also perform investigations externally, perhaps trying to stop fraudulent billing from a supplier.

Forensic Psychologists

Related to criminology is forensic psychology. In the forensic field, a psychologist will use their understanding of human behavior to assist in crime scene investigations. They also study the habits of criminals in order to gain a better understanding of the criminal mind. They may also be asked to predict crimes or interview criminals and their loved ones. This highly-specialized position requires conducting extensive research to aid in solving an intricate puzzle of crimes. Often, forensic psychologists will treat incarcerated criminals for substance abuse problems or other mental illnesses.

Learn more about how forensic psychology plays a role in criminal justice!

  • Intelligence Analysts

Intelligence analysts are crucial to national security. They are responsible for piecing together information to better understand the threats and issues of public safety. Within this career, there are three distinct paths — all of which are assembled from the same intelligence cycle: planning, collection, exploitation and analysis, and dissemination and reporting.


Criminologists study and consider various factors to understand why criminals commit the crimes that they do. They often take a psychological approach, paired with a biological and social method to understand more about an individual criminal, or a number of criminals.

Through these methods, they attempt to evaluate motivation, patterns of action, and the demographics related to a crime. With that, they create a criminal profile that is used by law enforcement to judge similar criminals. After creating profiles, criminologists are required to write extensive reports on their findings.

Study Criminal Justice at FNU

Setting career goals is an important step for college students to consider, and planning for the future is one of the best ways to ensure you reach your goals. If you are ready to start taking criminal justice courses, or if you are interested in another one of our programs, Florida National University, apply today!