Advantages and Disadvantages of Criminal Justice Jobs

Every career has advantages and disadvantages and this field is no different. Most job seekers only think about the positive aspects of criminal justice jobs. They consider the variety of opportunities that exist and the satisfaction of seeing criminals being caught and put behind bars. However, they also need to consider the negatives associated with these jobs. The work is incredibly dangerous and the situations you may find yourself in can be emotionally draining. Here is a list of advantages and disadvantages you should consider to make sure this field is the right fit for you.

Advantages

  • Rewarding & Satisfying - There are very few jobs as professionally rewarding as criminal justice jobs. Whether you are a corrections officer, detective, special agent, or crime scene investigator, you are doing your part to keep the public safe from criminals. Knowing that the evidence you uncovered helped to put a serial killer behind bars is satisfying. You know that each day you contribute to stopping criminals in their tracks. Studies show that rewarding and satisfying jobs are more interesting and can lead to higher job performance.
  • Many Opportunities - Corrections officers, detectives, criminologists, police officers, fraud investigators, and federal agents are just a few of the criminal justice jobs available. You can match your particular interests up with different federal law enforcement agencies. Plus, you do not need to work out in the field to catch criminals. You could work in a crime lab analyzing evidence or work as an analyst examining crime statistics. Another benefit is most of these jobs will only require a bachelor's degree or previous law enforcement experience.
  • Ability to Transfer Skills - You may start out as police officer, become a detective, and ultimately own a private investigation agency. The skills you have gained as an officer are easily transferred to those other positions. The skills a security officer gains can make him eligible for corrections officer or police officer positions. While a little training will be necessary when you start a new job, the skills you have already gained can easily transfer.

Disadvantages

  • Dangerous and Difficult Work - You may be called to investigate a double homicide or a car accident, assist with hostage negotiations, or respond to a terrorist attack. Dealing with these types of situations day after day can start taking an emotional toll. Will you be strong enough to handle this? Criminal justice workers have some of the most dangerous jobs in the world. They interact with criminals who may do anything to evade arrest. Hundreds of officers and federal agents are wounded each year, some of them fatally.
  • Long Hours - Crime happens 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Police officers, federal agents, detectives, and crime scene investigators are just a few criminal justice jobs that require long hours. You can't stop chasing down a suspect just because it is 5 p.m. and you have put in your eight hours for the day. Plus, you may have to work different shifts, including the graveyard shift. Travel can also be required. However, you will usually be compensated for these long hours with overtime pay or federal availability pay.
  • Mandatory Retirement Age - Many police departments and federal agencies have a mandatory retirement age. Often, you will be required to retire in your mid 50's. Generous pension plans are usually part of the benefits package you receive. However, those pensions may not be enough to sustain you and your family for the next 30 years. Many of these young retirees will need to go back to work as a security guard, private detective, or investigator.

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Last Updated: 04/28/2014