According to a 2021 Statista report, there were 396 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in the United States. Although the crime rate has generally fallen since the early nineties, it remains high compared to many countries in the western hemisphere.
There is no shortage of jobs for those looking for careers in law enforcement in America. You can work in several rewarding fields as long as you obtain the right qualifications.
Many law enforcement careers involve policing, but many options are open to those broadening their horizons. Many law enforcement careers involve policing, but many options are available to those broadening their horizons. Many law enforcement careers involve policing, but many options are available to thoseo who are interested in broadening their horizons. In many people’s minds, a job in law enforcement means becoming a policeman or woman. They imagine a life on the beat, going after everyday criminals and appearing at crime scenes.
Criminology graduates, for example, can become researchers and advisors on crime, senior detectives and heads of police departments, forensic scientists, and even district attorneys.
One question frequently asked by those looking to begin a career in law enforcement is, what is the difference between criminology and criminal justice? Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they mean entirely different things when deciding on a career, and the Central Christian College of Kansas can help put you on the right path.
Understanding the similarities and differences between the two options is very important because it is required to make an informed choice on which course to take, ultimately determining where you will work after completing your studies.
What is criminology?
It studies crime and criminal behavior using tools and theories from sociology, psychology, and economics. Simply put, it explores why crime happens and what can be done to mitigate it.
A theory to serve as an example to demonstrate the focus of criminology is the popular broken windows theory. It posits that visible signs of crime and other criminal behavior, such as abandoned or derelict buildings, create an environment that fosters even more corruption.
According to this theory, the appearance of a neighborhood can be a predominant factor in reducing crime. It was successfully used in New York in the 1980s and 1990s. City officials took steps to improve the appearance of areas where criminal activity was rampant, for example, by installing better lighting in the subway and applying a fresh coat of paint over graffiti, and saw a significant crime reduction.
This is a perfect example of criminology at work. By applying theories from other disciplines, criminologists could understand why crime persists in certain neighborhoods and not others. City officials and the police were quick to use the idea to bring about impactful changes within the city.
What is criminal justice?
It is the process of apprehending and bringing to justice those who have committed crimes. This is the side of law enforcement with which most of us are familiar.
Through TV shows like CSI and Law and Order, we have come to see how the police and courts work to maintain law and order in our communities. Although these shows don’t always accurately portray police work and courtroom affairs, they are a fair reflection of the criminal justice process.
There are many aspects of criminal justice. The process includes the accused and their alleged crime, the police who make the arrest, the evidence gathered and presented at the trial, the court system that judges and sentences the offender, and the punishment meted out upon conviction.
If you study criminal justice, you can have a career in any of these fields. You could become a senior policeman, a detective, an investigator, or a court official. You could also work within the prison and reform system.
The difference between criminology and criminal justice is that the former deals with the theories behind the causes of crime, while the latter deals with the apprehension and punishment of criminals.
What can you do after you get a degree in criminology?
There are numerous opportunities for those who decide on a career in criminology. They range from research to police work. Where you end up depends entirely on your preferences and the opportunities present after earning your qualification.
Here are some popular career options for those who choose to study social order and criminology:
This is a popular choice for criminology majors. It involves the study of crime by collecting and analyzing quantitative data and using the information gathered to suggest ways to reduce crime and deal with criminals.
According to a report by Zippia, the job market for criminologists is expected to grow by about 9% by 2028. Research.com reports that there are nearly 4 million criminologists in the United States today. Their salaries vary depending on what they choose to focus on, but most of them make enough money to live a decent lifestyle.
This field of psychology deals with criminals within the legal system. Forensic psychologists attempt to understand the motivation behind crime and inform law enforcement on possible courses of action for its mitigation beforehand.
Forensic psychologists can work in a variety of settings. Many are attached to police departments; some work in the prison system, while others specialize in offender rehabilitation.
A degree in criminology allows you to work as an investigator with many law enforcement agencies. Find work with the DEA, the FBI, the Secret Service, NCIS, DHS, the marshal service, and any organizations investigating crime.
Criminal, Your insights into the criminal mind will inform your investigationsrney
To become a lawyer, you need a law degree, but lawyers with a background in criminal studies have an edge. After apprehending criminals, they need legal representation before the court, and the insights gained from a criminology degree are useful for defense attorneys. You can read more about joining a top US law firm after you complete your studies.
You can also become a district attorney, representing the commonwealth and prosecuting offenders. The knowledge you gain from a criminology degree will place you in a position to better understand the workings of the criminal mind and give you an advantage in dealing with offenders.
It is important to mention that you do not need a criminology degree to take up either of these careers. It is complementary and makes you a more attractive candidate to employers.
These professionals support people who have been affected by crime in one way or another. They provide counseling, offer emotional support, and guide their clients to resources to help them recover from the trauma.
In some states, victim advocates are present at crime scenes, help make death notifications and work with investigators to solve cases.
As a victim advocate, you may find yourself in a dual role. You will be tasked with supporting families and individuals who have been affected by serious crimes such as murder, and investigators and police will also require your input as they investigate the crimes and apprehend criminals.
Many senior police detectives opt to study criminology because of the insights into the criminal mind and motivations for criminal behavior with which it provides them.
The course teaches how to read people, understand how crime affects communities, and what can be done to keep peace and reduce crime. All these are important aspects of detective work, and they can be learned by obtaining a degree in criminology.
If you choose this as a career, you will spend your time teaching students who enroll in criminology classes. You may not come into direct contact with law enforcement or perpetrators of crime. Still, you contribute by imparting the necessary skills to those who have opted for a career in criminology.
Correctional officers play a significant part in the justice system. They oversee offenders as they serve their prison terms, and they must assess whether or not they are rehabilitated before they are released.
Many criminology majors opt to become corrections officers, where they can use their skills and knowledge to help rehabilitate criminals and reduce the recidivism rate.
These are professionals who are tasked with overseeing individuals who have been allowed to serve their sentence outside prison. They monitor the behavior of the individuals by conducting periodic assessments and advise the court on appropriate action should the individual stray from the terms of the probation.
If you don’t fancy being employed by the justice system, you can get a criminology degree and open a private investigation firm. Your knowledge will help you understand criminal behavior.
Many private investigators eventually work with the police on criminal cases to help bring offenders to justice. Private entities may also hire you to look into issues, find missing people or locate information.
A criminal profiler incorporates knowledge from psychology and other fields in analyzing facts about the crime, such as the nature of the crime itself, the identity of the victims, and the location of the scene to build a profile of the possible criminal whose identity is not yet known. The police then use this profile to identify potential victims and locate the criminal.
A criminology degree is important if you wish to have this type of career. It provides a roadmap into the criminal mind that you can then use to advise police departments and other law enforcement officials.
Crime scene officer
A CSI employee examines crime scenes to collect evidence. Although specific courses qualify you for crime scene investigation, a degree in criminology makes you a more attractive candidate to employers because you have the advantage that you understand how criminals work and can bring important insights into cases.
Should I study criminology or criminal justice?
Now that you understand the difference between criminology and criminal justice, you may wonder which course is best for you.
It depends on what career you want. If you have always wanted to join the police or work within the court system, criminal justice may be the better option. You can become a policeman, a detective, an investigator, a criminal consultant, or even work in the DA’s office to help prepare cases.
Can I study criminology online?
You can study for a criminology degree online. All you need to do is locate the right college and get enrolled in one of several annual intakes. Your classes will be conducted online, and all course material will be available on the college servers.
Before you enroll, you need to have a good understanding of what the course entails. You’ll be in a better position to plan and, with the help of your boss, free up some time to attend classes and complete assignments.
Although online degrees typically take a shorter time than in-person degrees, they tend to have a higher dropout rate because students cannot meet the course’s demands.
Don’t sign up until you understand how demanding the course is and how it will affect the rest of your life, including work and family.
Once you enroll in your classes, take the time to meet your instructors; they are a rich source of information, and they can help you succeed in your course. They may also offer excellent job opportunities after you complete your degree.
Join study groups whenever possible and participate in discussions. They are a rich source of information, and the diverse opinions will help improve your analytical skills.
What soft skills are needed for a career in criminology?
Understanding the difference between criminology and criminal justice is important. Still, to have a successful and long-lasting career, you must develop the soft skills needed in this line of work.
You cannot afford to be the sort of person who jumps to conclusions. Remember, this job is largely analytical, so you must be prepared to listen and watch.
Relating well with diverse groups is also important. In your career, you will deal with offenders and law enforcement professionals from all backgrounds, and you must give each person a fair chance.
A career in criminology is one way to contribute to your community and society. It allows you to understand the theory behind the crime and participate in crime prevention. It is also a good window into the criminal mind.
However, make sure you know the difference between criminology and criminal justice; they sound more or less the same but are different disciplines. Understanding how they differ will help you choose the course that best aligns with your ambitions.