How to Become a Criminal Justice Professional In 2023? Complete Guide

How to Become a Criminal Justice Professional In 2023? Complete Guide

Are you looking to become a criminal justice professional? This guide provides a complete roadmap to becoming a successful criminal justice professional. It covers the definition of a criminal justice professional, obtaining the necessary education, available career paths, and other relevant information.

In order to become a criminal justice professional in 2023, you will need to complete the necessary educational and professional qualifications. 

Begin by researching the field and its various career paths. You will need to pursue an undergraduate degree in criminal justice, criminology, or another related field. 

Key Points:

  • Research the criminal justice field and available career paths.
  • Acquire a bachelor’s degree in a related area such as criminal justice or criminology.
  • Gain professional experience through internships or entry-level positions.
  • Consider pursuing advanced education or specialized training to advance your career.
  • Improve abilities in effectively communicating, analyzing, and addressing problems through critical thinking skills.
  • Maintain a strong work ethic and ethical standards in your professional conduct.

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What Is a Criminal Justice Professional?

A professional in criminal justice is an expert who has undergone training and certification to operate within the criminal justice system. 

The category encompasses various fields, such as attorneys, forensic experts, probation officers, correctional officers, judges, crime scene investigators, law enforcement officers, and others.

How to Become a Criminal Justice Professional: Comprehensive Guide

Choosing a career in criminal justice can offer advantageous and fulfilling job prospects. This profession presents opportunities in both private and public sectors, which can grant you flexibility when determining your career trajectory.

Here are some steps to become a professional criminal justice:

Get The Right Education

Beginning a career as a criminal justice professional involves obtaining an education in the field. One can opt for an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in criminal justice or a relevant discipline. 

Although a minimum of an associate’s degree is required, a bachelor’s degree or higher is preferable. 

Typical coursework in a criminal justice program includes constitutional law, criminology, criminal justice policy, criminal psychology, criminal law and procedure, forensics, and similar subjects.

Gain Experience

Upon finishing a criminal justice degree program, the subsequent step involves acquiring practical experience in the field. One can gain experience by participating in voluntary or internship programs with law enforcement agencies, correctional facilities, or court systems

This exposure to the criminal justice system helps to acquire firsthand knowledge and valuable connections in the field.

Pursue Certifications

Aside from obtaining a degree in criminal justice, you might consider pursuing certifications in the field. Certifications are accessible in diverse areas, such as forensics, private security, corrections, and law enforcement. 

Earning certifications showcases your dedication to a criminal justice career and can enhance your prospects of securing a job by providing an edge over other applicants.

Network And Make Connections

Networking is a crucial aspect of becoming a criminal justice professional. You can establish a network by participating in industry conferences, joining professional organizations, and connecting with others through social media. 

Building a network of contacts in the field keeps you informed about the latest developments in criminal justice and also aids in job hunting.

Take The Necessary Tests

Taking examinations in criminal justice is a critical step towards becoming a professional in the field. Depending on the job you are pursuing, you may have to take the Correctional Officer Exam, the Law Enforcement Entrance Exam, or the Civil Service Test. 

These assessments differ in complexity and necessitate a strong comprehension of the criminal justice system.

What Is a Criminal Justice Degree?

A degree in criminal justice encompasses an educational accreditation emphasizing the regulations and procedures concerning criminal culpability and the reimbursement of damages caused by criminal acts. 

The study of criminal justice involves concentrating on laws and policies that aim to minimize crime rates. 

Additional areas of interest include the factors and origins of deviant and criminal conduct and the mechanisms employed by law enforcement and government entities to manage criminal activity.

A comprehensive criminal justice curriculum will typically comprise of coursework in five essential domains of the discipline:

  • Law enforcement
  • The U.S. legal system
  • Criminal investigations
  • National security and terrorism
  • Criminological theory

How To Get a Criminal Justice Degree?

To pursue a profession in the criminal justice system, you can pursue a path to acquire a criminal justice degree and obtain the skills and expertise that will render you an eligible contender for available roles.

Complete High School

To study criminal justice in college, you must have a high school diploma and submit your transcript, SAT or ACT score, letters of recommendation, and an essay or statement of intent with your application.

Look For Opportunities To Get Experience

Gain hands-on experience in the criminal justice field while attending college by seeking opportunities such as working in a law office or volunteering with the local police department.

Maintain a Clean Background

Maintain a clean legal record to avoid issues with background checks when pursuing a career in criminal justice.

Decide On An Area Of Specialization

Criminal justice education programs offer various specializations, allowing students to choose a focus based on their interests. Specializing in an area such as forensic science, homeland security, legal studies, or cybersecurity can help qualify students for specific positions.

Consider Earning a Certification

Consider obtaining a certification in your desired field of criminal justice to enhance your credibility and increase your chances of being hired. This may involve taking additional courses and passing an exam to demonstrate your expertise.

Career Options In Criminal Justice Professional

Upon completing a degree in criminal justice, graduates can explore various career options in the field. Some of the most common job opportunities for those with a criminal justice degree include:

Police Officer

Education Requirement: Associates or Bachelor’s Degree

Expected Job Growth: 7% increase

Employment Locations: Local, State, and Federal Governments

Average Salary: $55,010

Correctional Officer

Education Requirement: Bachelor’s Degree

Expected Job Growth: 4% increase

Employment Locations: Local, State, and Federal Jails, Prisons or Holding Cells

Average Salary: $40,530

Private Investigator

Education Requirement: Associates, Bachelor’s, or Master’s Degrees

Expected Job Growth: 11% increase

Employment Locations: Private Detective Firms, Police Departments, Private Businesses, Organizations, or Individual Clients

Average Salary: $50,700

Criminal Profiler

Education Requirement: Associates or Bachelor’s Degree

Expected Job Growth: 4%

Employment Locations: Local, State, and Federal Governments  

Average Salary: $54,000

Crime Prevention Specialist

Education Requirement: Associates or Bachelor’s Degree

Expected Job Growth: 4% increase

Employment Locations: Local Communities

Average Salary: 52,000

Crime Scene Investigator

Education Requirement: Bachelor’s Degree

Expected Job Growth: 19% increase

Employment Locations: Offices, Labs, Crime Scenes

Average Salary: $56,320

Skills Required To Become a Criminal Justice Professional

Here are some essential skills required to become a criminal justice professional:

  • Public speaking
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication skills
  • Adaptability


Achieving success in a criminal justice career requires dedication and effort, but the rewards can be significant. By pursuing the proper education and gaining relevant experience, you can establish yourself as a credible professional in the field. Contact us for more content like this!

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Become a Criminal Justice Professional

The roles of judges and hearing officers in the criminal justice system are highly respected, and they are responsible for overseeing the legal process in the courtroom.

Some criminal justice careers, such as police officer, special agent, probation officer, and community control, often require a bachelor’s degree.

The techniques used for research in this field include survey research, cross-sectional research, longitudinal research, experimental and quasi-experimental research, time series research, and meta-analysis.

Drug trafficking is a highly profitable criminal activity, generating around $320 billion in annual revenue. According to UNODC, around 50% of organized crime income comes from illicit drugs, which represents 0.6% to 0.9% of global GDP.

The closest degree to criminal justice is a degree in criminology, as it focuses on the scientific study of crime, criminal behavior, and the criminal justice system. Other related degrees include forensic science, law enforcement, and legal studies.

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Sara Blauvelt
By Sara Blauvelt

Hey everyone, I am Sarah, an experienced career writer with a talent for breaking down complex career concepts into easily digestible content that helps job seekers succeed. Skilled career communicator, known for producing high-quality, data-driven content that provides valuable insights and strategies for career success.