Successful criminal justice careers often begin with a broad base of knowledge.

In 2015, there were nearly 1.2 million violent crimes and more than $12.4 billion lost to property crimes in the U.S. alone.* Needless to say, crime is a significant problem, but it’s not a simple one to solve. There are a lot of reasons people commit crimes, which means there’s not one single method of preventing crime. Because of this, the study of criminology is quite complex and the varieties of criminal justice jobs are numerous.

If you’re looking to begin or advance your criminal justice career, there are a number of disciplines you can study. Here are four great options.

Human Services

From children’s protective service workers to social workers to addiction counselors, professionals working in human services devote themselves to helping people find stability in their lives. It’s not hard to see the link between these services and crime prevention. People living in households below the poverty level are twice as likely to be the victims of a violent crime as compared with those living in high-income households. Additionally, there is a well-established link between drug addiction and crime. By helping people ascend from poverty and/or beat addiction, human services workers are helping the fight against crime.

Some human services professionals even hold jobs within the criminal justice system itself. These jobs include probation officer, juvenile court liaison, and prison counselor, among others. The close link between human services and crime makes a human services degree—like a PhD in Human and Social Services—a great option for those who want to specialize in the intervention side of criminal justice.

Psychology

Like human services professionals, psychologists can be instrumental in helping people move past personal limitations that may expose them to crime and/or lead them toward crime. Additionally, numerous academic psychologists study the psychological factors that might lead someone to commit crimes, while forensic psychologists work within the criminal justice system, providing mental state examinations of defendants, advising on jury selection, and even helping investigate crime scenes.

With psychology being so integral to multiple areas of criminal justice, a strong understanding of psychology can be useful to anyone seeking a criminal justice job. A psychology degree like a BS in Psychology could be a great choice if you’re looking to start a criminal justice career.

Emergency Management

Emergencies are inherently dangerous. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, mass power outages, and other community-wide emergencies not only threaten lives and property, they create opportunities for criminals. Some people might loot unattended stores. Others may commit robberies and assaults while law enforcement focuses on handling the emergency. These crimes can exacerbate the emergency, making it harder to handle the situation. This is why emergency management professionals also plan for the aftermath of emergencies and develop procedures to prevent and address crime.

Good emergency management is vital in mitigating the impact of crime that arises during emergencies. It’s an important field for those interested in reducing crime, and one you can enter with the help of a degree such as an MS in Emergency Management.

Criminal Justice

While any of the above degrees can help you start or advance your criminal justice career, you can also earn a degree specifically in criminal justice. But you don’t want to enroll in just any criminal justice degree program. Whether you’re earning a bachelor’s in criminal justice, a master’s in criminal justice, or a PhD in Criminal Justice, you want to attend a university that believes in cross-disciplinary education, bringing together human services, psychology, emergency management, and other fields of study in order to give you a complete understanding of criminal justice.

Thanks to online education, great criminal justice degree programs are now accessible for those who wish to further their education without changing their entire professional or social situation. Not only can these programs help you gain the skills and knowledge you need to start or advance your career, they provide a level of convenience and flexibility not available at traditional universities. Instead of requiring you to attend classes at a specific location and time, an online criminal justice degree program allows you to complete the majority of your coursework from home on a schedule designed for those with full-time jobs.

Criminal justice is one of the world’s most complex and fascinating fields. With the right online degree program, you can put yourself in position to succeed in a criminal justice career.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online BS in Criminal Justice, MS in Criminal Justice, and PhD in Criminal Justice degree programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


*Federal Bureau of Investigation, Latest Crime Statistics Released, on the Internet at www.fbi.gov/news/stories/latest-crime-statistics-released.

†Bureau of Justice Statistics, Household Poverty and Nonfatal Violent Victimization, 2008–2012, on the Internet at www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5137.

‡National Institute of Heath, Addiction and the Criminal Justice System, on the Internet at https://report.nih.gov/nihfactsheets/ViewFactSheet.aspx?csid=22.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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