Entry-Level Jobs in Criminal Justice
A criminal justice certificate is a valuable credential that can help you start your career. Indeed, this certification opens many possible job paths for you. You can choose to get just a certificate or combine it with a degree. Some employers and positions require a degree, but many only need a high school diploma. Furthermore, earning your certificate will help you stand out in the job pool if your educational background isn’t in criminal justice.
The criminal justice field is great for anyone looking to help victims of crimes or keep the public safe. You can work in administration, with lawyers, or on the front lines of law enforcement.
Majorly, people think of lawyers, judges, and police officers when they consider careers in criminal justice. However, there are a variety of options available to you. Keep reading to learn of other entry-level jobs you can join with a certificate in criminal justice.
Top 10 Positions You Can Get With a Criminal Justice Certificate
Below, we will focus majorly on careers that don’t require a degree. Keep in mind that employers may have their own standards though. While many jobs usually only need a high school education and/or additional certification, your local businesses may ask for more. Additionally, there are multiple levels to criminal justice. Consider the different standards for state and federal courts.
If you wish to work in the federal jurisdiction, you’ll likely need a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, a criminal justice certificate may help you qualify for more positions if you already have a degree.
1. Fish and Game Warden
Fish and game wardens provide a valuable service to their community by ensuring safe and legal hunting and fishing. They help protect our wildlife from overhunting and watch for issues.
These professionals respond to reports of damage to property and illegal hunting. Furthermore, they may assist with search and rescue operations. Basically, they have many responsibilities when it comes to protecting our wildlife and community.
You can join this job at either the local or federal level. Federal positions, however, require a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, wildlife management, or a similar major. Local position requirements depend on your local department. You may find they only ask for a high school diploma or associate’s degree. Furthermore, as this career is demanding, you’ll need to pass a physical examination.
If you have an unrelated associate’s degree or want to stand out among applicants, consider earning your criminal justice certificate. This credential helps you in this job by teaching the basics of criminal law, crime measurement tools, and legal processes.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, fishing and game wardens make an average salary of $58,190.
2. Juvenile Correctional Counselor (or Youth Specialist)
Juvenile correctional counselors serve as a coach and assist in programs that help rehabilitate young offenders. Many facilities will have events for skill-building, group discussions, and other training. Juvenile correctional counselors will lead or supervise these events.
You’ll get to know your clients’ needs and help them build a plan for success. Sometimes, the process may include a treatment plan for behavioral issues or mental illnesses. Overall, you build relationships and mentor youths to help them finish their education, find jobs, and grow into successful adults.
As with the previous entry, educational requirements vary by location. You may find your local organization requires you to earn a bachelor’s degree. Others only need a high school diploma and specialized training. You may also need to obtain additional certifications such as CPR. Thus, a criminal justice certificate can either serve as a bridge from your degree or diploma to this career.
According to the BLS, these professionals can expect a salary of around $63,290.
Paralegals work in law offices to assist attorneys with their cases. They may help interview clients, research, and create court documents. Notably, these experts carry many responsibilities and are vital members of the legal profession. You truly get to know the ins and outs of law in this job. As a result, many choose to start in this field before pursuing law school.
Additionally, you can find positions in fields of your interest. If you wish to specialize in certain types of law, you can seek firms that work with your preferred case type.
Educational requirements vary by firm and location. You can get started with a certificate or related degree. However, you may need to earn your bachelor’s to get considered for promotions or additional responsibilities. A criminal justice certificate on top of an associate’s degree can help you stand out among other candidates
The median salary for paralegals is $56,230 per year.
A bailiff helps ensure order and peace within a courtroom. These professionals escort jurors, help the judge with various tasks, and may perform searches of the room and anyone who enters. Additionally, they may serve to protect or observe jury members in and outside of the court. Overall, they keep everyone involved in legal trials safe and calm.
Bailiffs may be hired by the court, sheriff’s department, or even private agencies. You may need to do some research to find who employs your area’s bailiffs if you’re interested in the job.
Majorly, you only need a high school diploma or equivalent to enter this position. Higher-level courts or specific cities or states may require a bachelor’s degree. For example, federal courts will likely have stricter hiring processes. You may also need additional physical fitness training or testing to qualify.
Per the BLS, bailiffs earn $47,920 annually.
Dispatchers take the calls for emergencies and reports of crime or suspicious activity. They may also speak to people experiencing non-emergency situations, such as active civil disputes. Overall, they must be patient, well-spoken, good listeners, and have strong critical thinking skills. Dispatchers provide a vital service. Their response guarantees help is on the way.
These professionals mainly take calls regarding fender benders, neighbor disputes, and similar situations. However, dispatchers will communicate with people during terrifying, distressing, and life-threatening events. You may very speak to a caller who is experiencing the worst day of their life. Additionally, some callers will be at their worst when calling for help, and others won’t be able to communicate clearly. Thus, you must be able to stay calm and handle extreme emotions.
To become a dispatcher, you only need a high school diploma or equivalent. Often, you’ll be required to complete a training course after being hired. Getting your certificate will not only help you stand out, but you’ll also get further information about the situations you’ll handle day-to-day.
The median salary for a dispatcher is around $46,670.
6. Victim Advocate
Victim advocates work with legal professionals, such as lawyers, to help support victims of crime. They’ll find resources and assist with getting back to a state of normalcy. For example, advocates may update clients on their cases, manage a hotline, or provide support in court. Furthermore, they may even work with lawmakers to ensure victims are protected at a higher level.
Overall, there are many levels of victim advocacy. Some positions may require a master’s degree, while others can be obtained with only a high school diploma or equivalent. Entry-level positions may include working the organization’s hotline.
A criminal justice certificate is a great start if you’re looking to get started and see if victim advocacy is right for you. However, you will need higher education to take on more responsibilities. On the other hand, if you majored in a field such as communication, this sort of certification will help bridge the gap between your education and the job.
According to the BLS, victim advocates can expect to earn a similar salary to social workers, coming out to around $37,610.
7. Non-Profit Staff
Many non-profit organizations focus on criminal justice. Notably, some of these businesses may relate to victim advocacy, making this a great alternative to the above careers. You can find non-profits dedicated to a variety of criminal justice causes. Some may focus on prison reform, while others seek justice for the wrongfully convicted. If you’re passionate about a cause, you may be able to find an organization – or you could always try starting your own.
At a non-profit, you can find many typical office jobs. For example, you can become an administrative assistant, marketer, or work more directly with the public.
What level of education you’ll need depends on what position you’re pursuing. Indeed, you can enter some jobs with just a high school diploma while others require a master’s degree. A criminal justice certificate will help you stand out for entry-level opportunities as you’ll be familiar with legal practices and terminology.
Due to the many different positions, it’s difficult to identify a singular median salary. You can expect to find jobs that pay from $20,000 to $90,000 annually.
8. Administrative Positions
Beyond the non-profit world, you can also find many administrative positions across the field of criminal justice. For this section, we will focus on secretarial jobs at a police station.
As with most secretary positions, you will answer phones, greet and direct individuals in the building, and organize files. In a police station, this duty may mean processing police reports, arrests, and similar content. Basically, you will ensure all the paperwork is in line and easy to find. You should have strong customer service, organizational, and communication skills to excel in this role.
Often, secretarial positions either require related experience or an associate’s degree. A certificate in criminal justice will assist you with this position as you’ll be more familiar with the terminology – a must for keeping records organized.
On average, police secretaries make between $17 and $27 per hour. Larger or busier stations often pay more. According to data, the average salary is around $53,675.
9. Security Guard
Security guards protect and monitor buildings and areas to ensure they’re safe and secure. Often, these professionals will work at a gate or door to ensure everyone coming in has the proper ID or attire.
Notably, a security guard’s exact role can change from place to place. Some buildings will require professionals to patrol the area regularly. Others only need someone to monitor a door or cameras. Additionally, training requirements may vary greatly. Sometimes, businesses prefer armed guards, and others want supervision only.
In the end, you’ll often only need a high school diploma or equivalent to apply. Advanced positions will require higher education or training. For example, a military background will allow you to enter many security guard positions.
In the end, the salaries for these positions can vary greatly. Some jobs pay $20,000 annually, while others offer up to $60,000. The BLS estimates the median pay for security guards as $31,470.
10. Correctional Officer
Correctional officers enforce rules and orders in jails and prisons. In this position, you’ll monitor inmates and the facility itself. In addition to supervision and patrol, duties include writing reports, performing searches, and aiding in the rehabilitation of the inmates.
You’ll need strong communication skills to succeed in this role as you’ll regularly speak to inmates and fellow officers. Additionally, you may need to pass a physical fitness assessment to get hired in some locations.
You may find that you can get new responsibilities and supervisory positions with a college education. A criminal justice certificate is a great start to prepare you for the job or help you rise in the ranks. Federal prisons often require that their correctional officers have at least a bachelor’s degree. Thus, you may need to seek higher education to obtain even entry-level positions in that field.
The BLS combines the estimated salary of a correctional officer with bailiffs. Thus, you can expect to earn $47,920 annually.
Lakewood University offers a 16-week online criminal justice certificate program. You’ll learn about the judicial system, modern law enforcement, and effective policing in your course. Additional topics include juvenile justice and white-collar crime. Overall, graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in the field.
Furthermore, this course is asynchronous, meaning there are no weekly lectures. Busy individuals can earn their certificate from the comfort of their homes when convenient for them. Additionally, you will have the opportunity to speak to your instructor,
If you’re looking to enter the field of criminal justice, don’t hesitate. Reach out to our admissions team today!