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If you are interested in the economics that are part of crime investigation/management/fraud, then it is necessary that you have a strong grasp on numbers and statistics. Although this area of focus is less popular in the field of criminal justice, there are available programs that offer bachelors and masters level degrees in the field. It is also important to note that a similar degree may have a varied title, such as Fraud Management or Economic Crime Investigation.
Prior to obtaining a bachelors degree in the field of economic crime management, you should audit an economics course (either in high school, a community college or even through an online university) to make sure that this focus would be an appealing one for you. Take steps to further research this newer field and speak with employees or former students who work in this area. Some people who break into economic securities also have degrees in accounting, economics, and finance. There may be more than one road to travel, in this situation, to get to your desired end.
Criminal justice degrees range from legal support to crime scene investigation, to administration to psychological profiling. Some people with criminal justice jobs have other specified areas of study, such as expertise in finance, foreign language(s) or engineering. These areas of expertise can be included as either a double major or minor, as part of the criminal justice curriculum, or as an entirely separate degree program altogether. The area of criminal justice in which you choose to major will ultimately determine your job opportunities and career focus.
Legal Studies is a criminal justice major that encompasses a wide variety of specialty options and career potential. Legal studies programs range in everything from associates degrees to online masters degrees in criminal justice. It is important that you narrow down your educational options prior to selecting which legal studies program you want to attend and which level of education and financial/time commitment is right for you.
Legal Studies career areas can include work as a legal secretary, mediation counselor, court reporter or a legal nurse consultant. Each of these specialty areas require a different level of education and experience. Legal secretaries, for example, do not require certification (although it is recommended) and often fare better in the work place with a minimum of an online associates degree in criminal justice. Legal nurse consultants will require an RN, as well as experience in the field and a certification. Mediation counselors require a minimum of a masters degree and certification in the field.
One can obtain a job in law enforcement, depending on what kind of time commitment, salary and area of interest he/she has, with everything from a high school diploma to a PhD.
For example, it is possible to become an entry-level police officer on the local level if you are 20-years-old and have a GED. You will still have to pass medical, physical and written exams. If you want to be a state or federal police officer or detective, however, a minimum of a bachelors degree in criminal justice is required.
On the other hand, if you are interested in being an FBI agent, you will not only require a minimum of a bachelors degree (masters degree in criminal justice preferred), but a minimum of three years of related work experience. It's also good to remember that the FBI doesn't appoint investigators over the age of 36.
There are numerous other specialty areas within law enforcement field such as security management, private investigation and law enforcement agents. In order to decide what area of law enforcement is right for you, take an honest inventory of your mental, emotional and physical needs, strengths and limitations. Each area of focus will require a certain amount of physical and emotional pliability in order to feel successful.
Paralegal programs are part of the criminal justice degree and are available at both online and on campus. While it was once an option to obtain a paralegal job without formal training in the area, this is no longer the norm. It is expected that in order to be considered for a job as a paralegal that you acquire the necessary education prior to applying for a position.
Most paralegal programs will include legal studies and legal research curriculum. If you have a more specialized area of interest, such as real estate law or corporate law, for example, those programs are available as well.
Prior to choosing a paralegal program or school, you should look for certain requirements such as accreditation, certification and career support, and potential internship opportunities. Internship opportunities often lead to full-time employment upon graduation, or at the very least, offer initial contacts in the field.
You can obtain an associates degree in paralegal studies (as long as certification is acquired post-graduation), or a bachelors degree to further your career growth possibilities. No matter what course you decide to take, review at least three different programs thoroughly prior to making your decision. The school admissions office should be readily able to offer detailed curriculum options and internship information before you even apply.
A major in Forensic Science can include a variety of sub-specialty areas and/or job focus options. If you are interested in obtaining a degree in forensics, first do a thorough examination of your job possibilities. For example, you can specialize in anything from forensic engineering to polygraph examination, to criminalistics to medial examination. It should be noted that these are general major/job categories and can vary by name from program to program.
For a forensic science concentration, you should have at least a bachelors degree with relevant internship, work or volunteer experience prior to a job search. If you do decide to get your associates degree first, you will most likely obtain an entry level position as a forensic technician, but promotional opportunities will be limited in the long run.
Most people who work in the forensic sciences field have a a masters degree, and many obtain PhD's. If you are unsure what level of financial and time commitment you are willing/able to make for your education, take some time and research jobs online and see what the majority of job openings in the field require.
Criminologists often work in university settings,either conducting research and/or teaching. If you are interested in working on this level, however, it will be necessary to obtain a PhD in Criminology. Other potential areas of work could include working for independent agencies or government agencies. Areas of study generally include information on psychology, sociology, and deviant behavior patterns.
Criminal psychologists are almost always expected to obtain a doctorate in the field. This role is generally a support role in helping criminal investigation teams (through direct practice or research) to understand the thought-processes and behavioral patterns of criminal behavior. Even though criminal psychologists require certification and a significant amount of educaition, there is no guarantee that you will make a significant amount of money upon graduation.
Another area of potential focus for your degree in criminal justice is in the area of juvenile justice. If you major in juvenile justice be prepared to take child development, as well as psychology and sociology courses as part of your curriculum.
If you want to seek a degree in the area of juvenile justice you should first obtain either a part-time job or internship working with this designated population prior to deciding both which program most interests you and if this focus is right for you.
Juvenile justice can be both rewarding and very disheartening. This is not a job where you will be able to save every child/teenager that has been wronged and, thus, has committed a crime. There are many sad realities and harsh truths that you will experience both about the system and the juveniles (and their families) themselves.
A newer area of specialty within the field of criminal justice is Homeland Security. This major has specifically become prominent since the attacks of September 11, 2001. There are numerous educational possibilities within the area of homeland security, such as an Associate of Applied Science in Homeland Security or a Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security (masters programs and PhD programs, though fewer in number, are also an option). An associates degree would prepare you for an entry level position, while a bachelors might make you more likely to obtain a middle-level position upon graduation.
Areas of study with a degree in homeland security include crisis management/intervention, contingency planning, and emergency response. Since the Department of Homeland Security is a government agency, many higher level employees are recruited from various branches of the military and other areas of federal employment.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|