Thinking about pursuing a career in criminal justice? After completing your education and the excitement of graduation starts to wear off, reality starts setting in. Sooner or later, you’ll need to make use of that degree you worked so hard for, right?
Now that you’ve figured out what you want to do, you start looking at the various fields of criminology and discover that there are countless opportunities available for people from all walks of life and levels of education to pursue. However, it will take a great deal of hard work and time to actually get hired. By first figuring out which branch of criminal justice you want to pursue, you’ll save a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road. Here are some facts about starting a career in criminal justice and some of the risks it involves.
The Right Career Path
There are many things to consider before making your final decision regarding your criminal justice career, some of which involve taking a personal assessment concerning your natural abilities and talents as well as your personal strengths and general interests.
Once you have that information in hand, you can start to match up your unique interests with various criminology or criminal justice sectors. Keep in mind that you don’t need a badge and a gun to catch the ‘bad guys’. For instance, you may choose to work as a lead analyst investigating crime statistics or in a crime lab pouring through evidence in order to catch criminals.
Here are just some of the many career positions available in the criminal justice system today:
• Police Officer
• Forensic Scientist
• Forensic Psychologist
• FBI Agent
• Special Agent
• Deputy Marshall
• Border Patrol Agent
• U.S. Customs Agent
• Corrections Facilities Manager
• Environmental Conservation Officer
• Media Criminologist
• Drug Enforcement Agent
As exciting as it is to start a criminal justice career, you’ll need to take a close look at the cons before you make a solid decision about your future. Here are some of the biggest risks involved when it comes to entering the world of criminal justice.
1. High Stress
Many criminal justice jobs are stressful. Quite often, they’re associated with high expectations from people in authority in addition to working swing shifts, enduring extensive travel, or working in cramped conditions. Also, criminal justice experts often deal with stress at home since their jobs frequently take a toll on their family life due to the dangers that often accompany the job.
2. Difficult and Dangerous Work
It can be potentially dangerous working in the criminal justice field, especially if you’re an active police officer. You may be asked to investigate a triple homicide or a fatal car accident, respond to an urgent terrorist attack, or help with hostage negotiations, all of which could end your life. This is a huge risk. Furthermore, facing these kinds of tense situations almost every day can start to wreak havoc on your emotional state of mind.
Individuals working in the criminal justice field regularly face danger. They often interact with hardened criminals who will potentially do anything to avoid getting arrested.
3. Regular Exposure to Atrocious and Disturbing Acts
Criminal justice experts see and know things that would shock most people. Police officers and detectives are usually the first to arrive at a disturbing crime scene. On the other hand, corrections officers often see inmates at their very worst, trying to deal with their life circumstances and coping with severe withdrawals from alcohol or drugs, making them intensely frustrated and depressed.
4. Financial Concerns Over Mandatory Retirement
Several police departments as well as federal agencies implement a mandatory retirement age, which is usually around the mid 50 range. Although the pension plans are often generous as part of the benefits package, they may not be enough to actually sustain a family for the next 20-30 years. Several younger retirees will have to seek employment as a private eye investigator, security guard, personal body guard, etc.
5. Excessively Long Working Hours
Most individuals working in the criminal justice system often work very long hours, especially for police officers, special agents, deputies, or corrections officers. They generally work rotating shifts as well.
Although rewarding, pursuing a career in criminal justice can be physically taxing and emotionally draining. Be sure to consider every aspect of a certain position before starting your career. However, if you don’t view these cons as actual risks, then perhaps working in the criminal justice field is right for you.
Whichever endeavor you decide to pursue, make sure it’s one you’ll find rewarding no matter how difficult the job. Is it worth your time, effort, and dedication? If the answer isn’t yes, then simply move on. It’s crucial that you both study and work hard in addition to maintaining a clean background in your own personal life in order to achieve the best possible position in a worthwhile and satisfying field.
By Andre Bradley