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Article by Rachelle Wiggins
“Your job is part of God’s calling for you…it is an integral piece of God’s plan for your life as He seeks to extend His kingdom and its influence throughout the world.” ~Barret Duke
Criminal justice, at its core, is the delivery of justice to those who have committed crimes. More than 200 categories for crime exist in our federal government—from organized crime to kidnapping to terrorism to cybercrime to drug and human trafficking. A major in criminal justice delves into all aspects of correctional science including causes of crime, deterrents to crime and the treatment and rehabilitation of offenders. You will study countless court cases, gain a firm grasp of law and learn about how law enforcement and our judicial system work. If you feel a sense of social responsibility to improve your community and world, then a major in criminal justice may be the right pursuit for you.
In addition to an interest in law, the psychology behind criminology and an enjoyment of the investigative process, a criminal justice major must have a strong commitment to personal integrity and honesty. Other helpful traits for this major include strong people skills and the ability to be a team player, since most careers in this field interface with diverse populations and a wide circle of professionals. Depending upon the specialization you plan to pursue, it can be helpful to be observant and methodical, and to have a strong, professional demeanor that conveys authority and commands respect.
Criminal justice is an interdisciplinary major, drawing from various educational areas such as political science, sociology, law, communications, computer science and philosophy. Once you complete your core classes, you can expect to take a vast range of courses including:
Electives may include classes about criminal investigation, the judicial process and victimology, just to name a few. It is common to undergo some sort of internship as part of your program, as well.
Jobs in criminal justice are on the rise. The national average for job growth is 7%, but in this expanding field they are at a projected 17%. One reason for this is increasing cybercrime, necessitating more jobs in cyber-security. Some who pursue a degree in criminal justice plan to pursue ongoing education in law, however, there are many possible career outcomes with a Bachelor’s degree. In general, criminal justice careers fall into two categories: law enforcement and legal. Law enforcement examples are:
Some legal examples are:
Other criminal justice careers have law enforcement and legal overlap. Examples of this include security analyst and the broad category of forensics. Many criminal justice careers require special certifications, licensures or extensive training so it is wise to research the specializations that most peak your interest in order to know the requirements and expectations.
Your heart for upholding justice is not coincidental. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16). If working in our court systems, prisons or local police department holds fascination for you, then maybe God wants to use your influence for good through a major in criminal justice.
By Amber Gragert
As a Christian you may have even more of a calling to this line of study and work than others. God's word speaks of His desire for fairness and justice and our simple belief in Him and His word give us as Christians a sort of innate moral compass. Isaiah 1:7 says, "Learn to do right; seek justice. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." In Hosea 12:8 it says, "But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice and wait for your God always." And in Proverbs 28:5, "Evildoers do not understand what is right, but those who seek the Lord understand it fully." These are only a few examples of how we are called to live rightly and justly - setting a loving and Godly example to the world.
"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Are you the kind of person Martin Luther King Jr. speaks of in the above quote? One who is willing to suffer, struggle, and sacrifice – one who will passionately and tirelessly strive for justice? Do scriptures about truth and justice ignite a passion within you to pursue it? The criminal justice field is for exactly those people. People with characteristics like honesty, integrity, a strong sense of ethics, sound judgment, very observant and analytical thinkers, people that enjoy investigation, have good communication skills and natural leadership tendencies. With these characteristics you should do well in the justice system.
Criminal justice is an interdisciplinary major which means you will study everything from psychology and sociology, to public administration, to law and beyond. You will study law backward, forward and sideways. You will learn the ins and outs of the judicial system, along with everything there is to know about police departments and other law enforcement agencies. Typical course work will include administration, constitutional law, criminal investigation, criminal justice, criminal justice reform, evidence, forensic law, judicial process, psychology, sociology and victimology.
Employment opportunities include:
• Correctional Officer
• Fish and Game Warden
• FBI or CIA Agent
• Forensic Physiologist
• Homicide Detective
• Immigration/Customs Enforcement
• Intelligence Analyst
• Private Investigator
• Probation Officer
• Police Officer
• Security Officer
• State Trooper