Closer Look at Criminal Justice Jobs

police officer on duty

Do you have a passion for criminal justice and a desire to contribute to your community, yet aren’t interested in going to the police academy? There are many jobs for graduates with a criminal justice degree that don’t require police academy training. Although “police officer” might be the first job you think of when you consider this area of studies, it’s actually just one of many types of criminal justice careers. You may want to consult a career counselor at your school for further information about related career paths.


The criminal justice system is broadly categorized into three main components: law enforcement, courts and corrections. Paralegals work within the court system. If you become a paralegal, you might find work at the offices of criminal defense attorneys, civil litigation attorneys or prosecutors. Paralegals are support personnel who provide invaluable assistance to lawyers, including the following:

  • Writing legal documents and correspondence, including contracts.
  • Investigating the facts of the case, such as by interviewing clients and witnesses, and taking formal statements.
  • Researching laws, regulations and legal opinions that are relevant to a particular case.
  • Organizing exhibits and notes for the lawyer’s use during a trial.

It’s a great time to consider becoming a paralegal. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the growth rate for this career is expected to be 12% through 2028.* This rate is much faster than average, and it represents the addition of nearly 40,000 new paralegal jobs to the economy by 2029.*

Child Protective Services Caseworker

If you have a passion for protecting vulnerable populations, you might consider working for Child Protective Services (CPS) as a caseworker. A CPS caseworker works for the county or state, typically in collaboration with law enforcement officers. They are responsible for investigating cases of possible child neglect or abuse throughout their jurisdiction. This job can involve the following specific duties:

  • Evaluate reports of alleged neglect or abuse.
  • Visit the home and interview the parent(s) or legal guardian(s), children, other household members, other relatives and medical providers.
  • Collect evidence such as arrest records and medical records.
  • Decide whether a child needs to be removed from a house if the child has been harmed or there is a real risk of future harm.

Whenever possible, CPS caseworkers strive to keep families together. When keeping the child in the home is likely to result in harm to the child, the caseworker will then try to place the child with an extended relative. If that isn’t possible, foster care is considered.

This job can be emotionally challenging as CPS caseworkers are exposed to difficult, high-stress situations. However, these professionals take comfort in knowing that they are making a real difference in the community.

Security Guard

Security guards perform similar work as law enforcement officers. However, they are not required to attend the police academy. A security guard is generally posted at one building or organizational campus, which may be an office building, hospital campus, college campus or nightclub. Some security guards stay in one place, such as at the entrance to the building, while others are mobile and patrol the grounds on foot or via a vehicle. The specific job duties of a security guard can include the following:

  • Verify that employees or visitors are authorized to enter a certain building.
  • Patrol and inspect the property to protect it from unauthorized entry, fires, vandalism and other undesirable situations.
  • Respond to disturbances quickly, document all incidents and collaborate with law enforcement officers when necessary.

The requirements to become a security guard vary from one state to the next. Generally, a security guard must not have any criminal convictions, pass a background check and successfully complete a security guard training program. Not all positions require guards to carry firearms. If firearms are required, then the security guards are expected to complete additional firearms credentialing.

Court Reporter

A court reporter is a skilled professional who is responsible for developing verbatim transcripts of legal proceedings, including trials and depositions. Some court reporters work at state or federal legislatures. Court reporters, also called court stenographers, play an essential role in the modern criminal justice system. Judges, juries, lawyers, plaintiffs and defendants all rely on accurate legal proceeding transcripts. Some of the specific job duties of a court reporter can include the following:

  • Using specialized equipment, including stenography machines, microphones, recording devices and other audiovisual equipment.
  • Recording all speech word-for-word, and reporting the identity of each speaker, as well as their actions and gestures.
  • Reading back certain sections of the transcript upon request by the judge.
  • Requesting speakers to clarify any inaudible or incomprehensible statements.

This job doesn’t require police academy training, although aspiring court reporters do need to complete a brief training program to learn how to use the stenography equipment. They may also choose to complete a voluntary certification course. Some states do require a professional license.

You can blend your passion with purpose as a criminal justice degree student at Grand Canyon University. The Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies degree program provides a solid framework of knowledge and skills in areas such as threat assessment, strategic planning, criminal behavior and victimology. To explore our Christian learning community, click on Request Info at the top of your screen.

Retrieved from: *, November, 2020

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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