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Studying Criminal Justice and Forensic Science prepares you for an exciting career in a number of areas. The field is growing and qualified applicants are in demand. In fact, theUS Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook predicts that the average job growth in the US between 2014 and 2024 will be 7%, but that the fields of corrections specialists and forensic science will exceed this growth and see a rise of 19% and 24%, respectively. Plus, according to the same research, starting salaries for many careers in Criminal Justice and Forensic Science are higher than the national average. If you’re interested in a career in Criminal Justice or Forensic Science, read on to learn about the different positions available:

Career Paths in Criminal Justice

If you are interested in the patterns of criminal behavior, and why people commit the crimes they do, then you may be interested in a career in Criminal Justice . Careers in Criminal Justice require that you work well with other people, are interested in criminal behavior, and enjoy and are good at law, psychology, sociology, and science. Here are some of the most common career paths within Criminal Justice:

Law Enforcement

A career in law enforcement requires that you protect and uphold the law in the country you serve. Depending on the law enforcement system, this is typical broken down to the local, state and national level. When we think of law enforcement, we think about:

  • Police officers that work to prevent crimes from occurring
  • Detectives investigate crimes and apprehend suspects
  • Support positions which includes evidence technicians, firearm examiners, crime scene analysts, fingerprint technicians, hand writing examiners, etc.


The legal field is essentially where a trial is held to determine the guilt or innocence of the person indicted. They are the ones that work to enforce the laws on the book, and are more generally thought about as:

  • Attorneys defend or prosecute the accused, including defense attorney, district attorney, etc.
  • Judges ensure that a trial proceeds fairly
  • Support positions which includes paralegals, legal secretaries, court reporters, jury consultant, etc.


Correction employees are tasked with supervising individuals who are imprisoned following a conviction after their trial. This type of work can also include rehabilitation and counseling as well. This type of work can be quite demanding and stressful, requiring a great deal of training. Here are some key careers within the Corrections career path:

  • Wardens work in prisons and jails where the convicted serve their sentences
  • Parole or probation officers monitor the convicted after their release or while on probation in order to prevent another crime
  • Correctional counselor provides counseling to the inmate while in prison or on parole
  • Substance Abuse counselor works to help addicts stay clean from drugs or alcohol

Interested in studying Criminal Justice?
Explore your education options at John Jay College of Criminal Justice to get started with your career

Career Paths in Forensic Science

Forensic science careers, on the other hand, are generally seen as being fast-paced and combine laboratory work with crime investigating. In this field you can expect to be providing important information to the legal field or police force, or you might find yourself in the finance, insurance, or perhaps pharmaceutical industry. You can subdivide careers in Forensic Science into four major groups based on their focus:

Forensic Scientists

These are the scientists made famous by CSI and Bones. They work closely with law enforcement agencies, government organizations, and others by gathering, testing and analyzing the results of toxicology, ballistics, and other kinds of evidence.

Forensic Pathologists

This subset includes the medical examiners (and other similar professional) who perform autopsies and other clinical examinations in order to gather forensic evidence.

Forensic Psychologists

Made famous by Clarice Starling of the Hannibal series on both the large and small screen, these specialists work to determine the mental fitness of the accused before the trial.

Associated Scientists

A large subset, this label can be applied to any number of professional scientists who use their knowledge to aid the justice system. Some examples include: forensic accountants, forensic engineers, and forensic anthropologists to name just a few.

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