5 Surprising Career Paths for a Criminal Justice Major

by Matt Klingler

When you hear the term “criminal justice,” you may think of lawyers or police officers. But the career options don’t end there. It is a wide-reaching and diverse field, rich with opportunity. Students who choose a criminal justice major will often enter fields such as information security analysis, private detective work, and even security and gaming surveillance.

A Fresh Look at Criminal Justice

A criminal justice major can be for students who want to critically analyze the criminal justice system today and enact change in the lives of at-risk youth and those in poverty in our cities. But any students not afraid to ask tough questions, challenge the status quo, and seek new solutions to old problems may also want to consider a criminal justice track.

Acquiring a degree in criminal justice will help students cultivate the skills necessary to be successful in any endeavor relating to seeking justice. Not only that, but students can build a strong network by leveraging professors from a bevy of different fields such as law enforcement, private security, and the military. Professors offer students a seasoned perspective on criminal justice, helping to prepare them for the working world.

The chair of the criminal justice department at Azusa Pacific University, Deshonna Collier-Goubil, Ph.D., wants “students to have a complex view of how they approach the study of criminology and criminal justice.” She sees every student’s perspective as unique and valuable. In the classrooms at APU, they have deep discussions about complex issues pertaining to current culture, like race, crime, and police brutality and shootings. By discussing the subjects others might avoid, students are better able to effect change.

Career Options Abound

Criminal justice major students are uniquely equipped to pursue a variety of exciting careers. Here are five surprising jobs you might consider as a criminal justice major:

  1. Community Justice Advocate. As a community justice advocate, you can support individuals facing the criminal justice system who suffer from behavioral health issues (such as addiction, mental health conditions, or trauma). As noted by Advocates, these programs help “address these underlying causes by connecting participants to appropriate treatment, housing, vocational opportunities and social services, so that they can lead healthy and productive lives in the community.”

  2. Private Investigator. Criminal justice graduates can also seek careers as private investigators. Private investigators seek information about sensitive personal, financial, and legal issues. They investigate crimes, help locate missing persons, and verify backgrounds.

  3. Forensic Analyst. Forensic analysts are in charge of documenting a crime scene and collecting and analyzing any evidence (such as hair and blood samples). Their analysis is recorded and used to determine details of the crime, like a suspect.

  4. Deputy Sheriff. Sheriffs play a critical role in the justice system by enforcing local, state and national laws within a county. They keep communities safe and have a range of tasks, including making arrests, booking and processing prisoners, and investigating crime scenes, according to JobHero.

  5. Victims Advocate. For those who want to help at-risk youth or protect the rights of individuals, a position as a victims advocate might be right for you. As a trained professional, you can help support victims of crimes by providing them with emotional and physical support. Paths for a victims advocate, according to the National Center for Victims of Crime, may include working at crisis hotlines, running support groups, or providing in-person counseling.

In order to be successful in the world of criminal justice, a student needs to build an essential set of skills. While acquiring your degree, you’ll learn to think critically and communicate effectively. You’ll learn how to spot oppression and inequality within our justice system and change it. In the end, you’ll be prepared to make a difference.