Careers in Criminal Justice
Academia and Research
A bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice can be your first step toward a professional career in academia and research in criminology, criminal justice, sociology and/or other related disciplines. Earning a master’s degree, as well as a doctorate, in any of these fields will open up doors to government research jobs as well as a university professorship. Since our program is theoretically, methodologically and analytically based, our curriculum can prepare you for graduate studies. Our teaching and research internships can also give you the knowledge and ability to compete for graduate and research assistantships at your school of choice.
This is a rapidly growing area of employment. Some of our Alumni are now working in juvenile and adult institutions, as probation or parole officers, in residential treatment facilities, and in programs for mentally ill offenders. There are several victim/witness programs in Wisconsin that employ our graduates as well. Other graduates work in forensic mental health, family counseling, therapeutic recreation and youth mentoring programs. Still others work as criminal justice policy analysts or social workers in public defender offices. If you are looking for a job in corrections, you may find the information below useful: The collaborative effort between the American Correctional Association, American Probation and Parole Association, American Jail Association and the Center for Innovative Public Policies, with funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance has resulted in the creation of Discover Corrections. Discover Corrections is an informative website for those interested in pursuing a career in corrections. On this website, potential employees can learn general information about the field and the types of job opportunities that are available. Employers are able to share job posting information, allowing job-seekers to locate and apply for jobs nationwide.
Some of our alumni have moved on to positions in law enforcement, and are now working in local police or sheriff’s departments, state agencies such as the State Patrol, and as Forestry Officers. Others have earned positions in such federal agencies as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Border Patrol. While our graduates tend to prefer to find positions in Wisconsin, some alumni are serving in departments out of state. In addition to state agencies, some of our graduates have earned positions at university police departments (including UWO’s Police Department).
There are many disciplines in which you can major if you are interested in law. Criminal Justice is one of them. Recent graduates with a major in criminal justice have been admitted and graduated from such institutions as the University of Wisconsin Law School (Madison), Marquette University College of Law, Hamline University Law School, Drake University School of Law and Ohio State University College of Law, just to name a few. Some of our alumni who were not interested in law school have entered into the paralegal profession. Our alumni can also be found working in insurance, private security and investigators in a number of fields. Still others who developed proficiency in data management, information systems, and use of spread sheet analysis have worked for the State Bureau of Audit, the state court administrative office as urban court managers and in other positions in business and industry.
Getting a job in a Criminal Justice Agency
Do not get arrested for any offense. Most criminal justice agencies conduct extensive background checks on new employees. Convictions for traffic violations, misdemeanors, as well as felonies may prevent you from entering the profession you are studying to master. Should you find yourself in such circumstances, your adviser may have suggestions about useful next steps. Such advice does not constitute legal counsel, nor can the adviser always keep such information confidential when preparing recommendations for graduate school or employment.
Check the Criminal Justice Program bulletin boards. Job and volunteer positions are posted on a bulletin board outside of the Criminal Justice Office, Clow Faculty Building room 401. Work and volunteer experience can help you to focus your career goals and make you a desirable candidate for employment. As an example, many CJ majors interested in law enforcement serve as Community Service Officers in Oshkosh or surrounding communities. Don’t discredit a part-time job, as it may ultimately be helpful in your career.
Criminal Justice professional and graduate school admission committees look for applicants with leadership experience in a variety of organizations. There are two criminal justice student organizations that can help you gain such experiences: Alpha Phi Sigma (the Criminal Justice Honor Society) and the Criminal Justice Student Association. These organizations can help you build your professional network among your peers and your professors. Both organizations sponsor speakers, organize trips to criminal justice facilities, and sponsor the annual Criminal Justice Job Fair.
In Wisconsin you must be certified through the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Training and Standards to work in local law enforcement. At the present time, this means successfully completing a 10 week course offered through the Wisconsin Technical College System.