Criminal Justice Technology Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Are you interested in a career in criminal justice technology? Get real job duties and education requirements to see if a career in criminal justice is right for you.
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Careers in Criminal Justice Technology

The field of criminal justice requires advanced technology to protect the public, ensure the safety of professionals, analyze the evidence necessary to solve crimes and enable informed decision-making on all levels of crime prevention and enforcement. Learn about becoming a police officer, corrections officer or forensic science technician. These careers are compared below:

Police Officer Corrections Officer Forensic Science Technician
Career Overview Police officers uphold the law by responding to calls and apprehending criminals. Corrections officers monitor inmates and maintain order in prisons and jails. Forensic science technicians collect and analyze evidence to solve crimes.
Education and Training Requirements High school diploma/G.E.D. and completion of police training academy High school diploma/G.E.D. and completion of training academy Varies by employer; bachelor's degree needed for lab work
Training Length Varies by agency, but typically 20-22 weeks for police training academy Varies by agency Four years
Additional/Other Training Job performance for advancement Job performance for advancement Apprenticeships; 6 months to three years for laboratory specialty training
Certification None Voluntary certification, such as through the American Correctional Association** None
Experience Requirement None; entry-level None; entry-level Internship or years of experience generally required
Job Outlook (2014-2024) Slower than average growth (4% (for all police and sheriff's patrol officers)* Slower than average growth (4% for all correctional officers and jailers)* Much faster than average growth (27%)*
Mean Yearly Salary (2014) $59,560 (for all police and sheriff's patrol officers)* $44,910 (for all correctional officers and jailers)* $58,610*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **American Correctional Association

Police Officer

As a police officer, your job would be to protect citizens and their property through law enforcement. You will be expected to patrol areas for crime, respond to crime scenes, arrest suspects and write detailed reports that may be used as evidence in court. Being that protection is required around the clock, you can expect to work in shifts full-time. Payment for working overtime is common. You may find that this career is demanding, dangerous and stressful. In addition, there is a high turnover rate within many local police departments. Still, many police officers find this career path to be rewarding. You can advance in this field through promotions, which are given to those with outstanding on-the-job performance records and good scores on written examinations.

Requirements

To become a police officer, you need to successfully complete the training provided by a police academy. This program requires roughly six months of intensive and comprehensive training. You can expect to study criminal justice technology, firearms and self-defense, among other topics. To qualify for training, you must be a U.S. citizen, of a certain age, have a valid driver's license and a high school diploma or equivalent. You will also be required to pass multiple physical examinations to gain entry into this field.

In November 2012, some employers of police officers were looking for the following:

  • A police department in Virginia wants to hire a candidate for a police officer position. At the time of the entry-level test, applicants must be at least 21 years old, with valid U.S. Citizenship, a valid Virginia driver's license and a high school diploma. Applicants must not have any convictions on their record.
  • A university in Pennsylvania looks for a police officer for its campus. Duties would include the enforcement of traffic laws, protecting property and people, investigating crimes and patrolling campus. Two years experience as a police officer is preferred, as is experience with Microsoft Office Suites.
  • A town in Connecticut seeks a police officer. Applicants must be U.S. Citizens, at least 20 years old and have either 45 college credits or two years active in military service. Multiple examinations required.

Standing Out

One way to stand out in this job market is to be in excellent physical shape. You will be required to pass multiple physical examinations to enter this field, and the better able you are to endure intensive training the better your chances of success. A college degree could also improve your chances in the work force, as many departments prefer to hire police officers who have completed at least some college coursework towards a degree.

Corrections Officer

As a corrections officer, you will be responsible for the wellbeing of prisoners who are either awaiting trial or serving out a sentence. Your typical duties would include supervising and reporting on inmate conduct. In addition, you may be expected to inspect the facilities, search for contraband and maintain order. Your work environment can vary based on the type of correctional institution. Typically, you work full-time on a rotating shift schedule. You can advance by gaining voluntary certifications and through on-the-job performance.

Requirements

To become a corrections officer, you complete a training academy and on-the-job training. Specific qualifications vary by employer, but you will need at least a high school diploma or its equivalent to gain entry-level employment in this field. The length of on-the-job training varies by employer; for example, federal corrections officers complete 200 formal training during the first year. Training and voluntary certification can be gained through the American Correctional Association (ACA). You can expect to study custody and security procedures, regulations and operations.

The following are examples of what employers looked for in November 2012:

  • A sheriff's office in Kansas looks for a corrections officer for an adult detention facility. Candidates should have a high school diploma or G.E.D. and basic computer skills. Requirements for employment include passing drug and psychological tests, a background check and a written test. This position requires shift work, and a salary increase could be obtained after six months of employment.
  • A residential work-release facility in Indiana seeks a corrections officer with a high school diploma and certification in both first aid and CPR. Strong communication skills, a valid driver's license and a background in corrections are all requirements. This position requires employees to maintain records, search for contraband, monitor cleanliness within the facility and monitor all activities.
  • A facility in Florida wants to hire a corrections officer who has completed correctional officer training and has earned a high school diploma. Candidates must also be certified in corrections by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, be at least 19 years old and have a valid driver's license. Duties include supervising inmates, maintaining order and overseeing the facility's operations.

Standing Out

It can be advantageous to gain multiple certifications as a correctional officer through the American Correctional Association. You can gain certification as a certified corrections officer, corrections supervisor, corrections manager or corrections executive through the adult corrections program offered by the ACA. Furthermore, there are certification programs offered in juvenile justice, security threat groups and nursing. These programs are self-study and designations are earned through multiple examinations. Additional certifications can be beneficial as they show a level of dedication and expertise in this field. You could also stand out by being in excellent physical condition, as this job requires a great deal of strength and stamina.

Forensic Science Technician

Forensic science technicians use technology to gather and analyze evidence discovered at crime scenes. As a forensic science technician, you can expect to collect various kinds of data from a crime scene through photography, sketches and notes. In addition, you catalog all evidence that you collect for the crime lab to analyze. If you choose to specialize in laboratory analysis, you not only classify all evidence collected, but also reconstruct the crime scene to discover what happened to the victim. Professionals work in morgues, crime labs, medical examiner offices and police departments.

Requirements

Depending on the employer, education requirements for forensic science technicians can range from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree. For instance, a high school diploma may be sufficient for rural agencies, while other employers prefer a bachelor's degree. However, a bachelor's degree is necessary to work in crime labs. In some instances, sworn police officers gain positions in this field. If you decide to earn a bachelor's degree, you should choose a relevant field of study, such as forensic science or a natural science. Nevertheless, you can expect extensive training through apprenticeships. Laboratory specialty training allows you to choose a track within this field. For instance, firearms-analysis training can require three years of study, while training for DNA-analysis can be completed in less than a year. You need to stay up-to-date on all the latest technological advances to remain competitive in this field.

In November 2012, some employers of forensic science technicians were looking for the following:

  • A city in California looks for a forensic specialist with a degree in criminal justice, forensic science, biology or chemistry. Candidates are also required to have at least one year of experience with a law enforcement agency and an additional year of experience with forensic casework dealing with latent-print comparisons, crime-scene processing and chemical processing. Furthermore, a valid driver's license is required, with certification as a Certified Crime Scene Investigator and/or Certified Latent Print Examination preferred.
  • A New York forensic sciences center wants to hire a forensic latent print examiner who has at least a bachelor's degree in forensic or natural science or criminalistics. Applicants need to write reports and testify in court. A background check is necessary, and an internship or years of experience is required, depending on the level applied for.
  • In Texas, a city seeks a criminalist with at least six months of training past a high school diploma. Candidates are required to have a valid driver's license and three to four years experience in crime scene investigation and latent print analysis. Duties include processing crime scenes, identifying latent prints, processing evidence through laboratory tests, testifying in court, conducting training classes for police officers and providing departmental support through clerical and administrative work.

Standing Out

To stand out as a forensic science technician, you could benefit by gaining additional training in specialty fields, such as latent prints, crime scene investigation and evidence processing. You're more likely to stand out in this profession if you're able to follow technological advances and apply them to your work. You can learn more about your chosen field through the Journal of Forensic Sciences and annual meetings, both offered by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Criminal Justice
      • Master: Criminal Justice
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
      • BS in Corrections
      • BSCJ: Law Enforcement
      • BSCJ: Juvenile Justice
      • BSCJ: Crime Scene Investigation
      • BSCJ: Homeland Security
    Associate's
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • AAS in Criminal Justice and Criminology
      • AAS in Public Safety and Security
      • Associate: Fire Science
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
      • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
      • PhD in Business Admin - Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy
    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
      • MBA - Criminal Justice
      • MBA - Homeland Security
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice
      • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis
      • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Analysis
      • MS in Criminal Justice Homeland Security
      • MS in Criminal Justice Federal Law Enforcement
      • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Management
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Criminal Justice
      • B.A. - Homeland Security
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Arts - Homeland Security
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
      • MS in Leadership: Disaster Preparedness & Executive Fire Leadership
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Public Safety and Emergency Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Argosy University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor - Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Lewis University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice
      • MS in Public Safety Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Generalist
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Forensic Science
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Homeland Security and Crisis Management
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Corrections and Case Management
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Admin
      • Undergraduate Specialization - Criminal Forensics

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
  • Associate: Criminal Justice

Which subject are you interested in?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • PhD in Business Admin - Criminal Justice
  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Criminal Justice
  • MBA - Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Criminal Justice
  • MS in Criminal Justice Intelligence & Crime Analysis
  • MS in Criminal Justice Behavior Analysis

What is your highest level of education completed?

Keiser University

  • B.A. - Criminal Justice
  • B.A. - Homeland Security
  • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Homeland Security

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
  • MS in Leadership: Disaster Preparedness & Executive Fire Leadership
  • Bachelor: Public Safety and Emergency Management

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Project Management and Public Safety Leadership
  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Argosy University

  • Bachelor - Business Administration

What is your highest level of education completed?

Lewis University

  • MS in Criminal Justice
  • MS in Public Safety Administration

What is your highest level of education?