Top Careers in Criminal Justice | Top Universities

Top Careers in Criminal Justice

By Chloe Lane

Updated April 24, 2020 Updated April 24, 2020

If you want to pursue a career in the field of criminal justice, there are many careers available to you. 

Although it might be beneficial to have a degree in a related subject, such as criminology, this is by no means essential, as most careers in criminal justice have intensive training programs, which allow you to earn the required qualifications while you work.

Read on to find out more about some of the top careers in criminal justice…

Police officer

As a police officer, you will be the face of criminal justice, reducing the amount of crime in the communities you work in and keeping the people who live there safe. Police officers will work both in the public eye and from behind the scenes, on flexible working patterns in a range of specialist positions. 

In many countries there are graduate schemes available for those who want to work as a police officer, allowing you to develop your leadership skills, as well as skills in problem solving, decision making and negotiation, which will help you greatly as you progress. 

Criminal intelligence analyst 

A criminal intelligence analyst’s main role is to use data analysis to detect and prevent organised crime in a community. The crimes you will be helping to prevent may include terrorist attacks, drug trafficking or cybercrime. 

To do this you will be using specialist software to identify potential agents and targets and build up intelligence pictures. You will present your findings as reports or presentations to individuals working in government. 

To get this role, you will need to be able to work well under pressure, have a good eye for detail and be able to work with a range of IT applications. 

Criminal lawyers

Legal professionals will be needed throughout the criminal court proceedings.

Who does what in the legal system depends on which country you work in. In the UK, for example, solicitors will deal with the client face to face, representing the client at the police station, gathering evidence to help the defence case and conduct litigation. Barristers, on the other hand, use the evidence gathered by the solicitor to represent the client in court. When barristers are not in court, they will be preparing for their next trial and advising on the law.  

To become a criminal lawyer in the UK, you will need to need to either have a law degree, or an undergraduate degree in another subject and a law conversion course. Then, depending on whether you want to become a solicitor or a barrister, you will need to complete either the Legal Practice Course (LPC, for trainee solicitors) or the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC, for trainee barristers). 

In the US, for example, all legal professionals are lawyers and to work in law you will need to become licensed as a lawyer. Once you have earned this licence you will be both an attorney at law (able to appear on behalf of a client in court) and a counsellor at law (giving advice on legal matters.

Private Investigator 

As a private investigator, you will likely be working for either a law firm, an insurance company, a corporate client or a member of the public. Your work may include surveillance, 

investigating fraud, investigating commercial piracy and doing background checks on employees. 

Private investigators must have good analytical skills, be incredibly detail orientated, patient, and have strong communication skills. You should also have a driving license. 

Forensic psychologist

As a forensic psychologist you’ll use psychological theory to further criminal investigations, using your knowledge to gain a psychological understanding of criminal behaviour, and looking for ways to prevent it happening again. You may also help with the treatment of committed offenders. You will often conduct your own research, as well as analysing other professionals’ research. 

For this role you will need to have excellent interpersonal and written communication skills. You should also be studying a psychology related degreeto get ahead in this role. 

Probation Officers

Probation officers ensure that community orders are carried out and supervise offenders once they are released to prevent reoffending. As a probation officer, you will be working with offenders, victims, police and prison service colleagues. You will provide pre-sentence reports on people charged with an offence to help courts decide what sentence should be passed for them. You’ll also work with victims of crimes, to ensure that they are being supported and that their voices are being heard. 

For this role, you’ll need an undergraduate degree and an understanding of the criminal justice system, the punishment of offenders, and the rehabilitation of offenders. You will also go through an intense training period, once you’ve been offered the role. In the UK, for example, this will either be a 15-week training program (if you have a criminology undergraduate degree) or a 21-month training program, completing a series of modules. 

Forensic Accountant 

Forensic accountants investigate fraud and other financial misrepresentation and misconduct. You will use your accounting skills to identify and uncover irregularities in reports and financial documents in order to uncover fraudulent activity. You may also work on preventing criminal activities, in order to reduce risk. 

Those looking to work in forensic accounting should have exceptional numeracy skills and good attention to detail. You do not necessarily have to have an accounting degree, but if you do, it will provide a good foundation to build on. If you don’t already have an accounting degree, you will have to complete the recognised accountancy qualifications to then go on to specialise in forensics. 

This article was originally published in January 2020 . It was last updated in April 2020

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Written by

As Content Editor for and, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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