Continuing Education in Criminal Justice Jobs

Your education is never finished when you work in the criminal justice field. This is a field that is constantly changing. New laws are added as old laws are struck down. New technologies are developed to help streamline law enforcement processes. New research methods or procedures are designed to better analyze forensic evidence. Criminal justice workers need to stay abreast of these changes in order to effectively perform their job. So, they enroll in continuing education classes.

What is Continuing Education?

All criminal justice jobs require some sort of continuing education. You will not be very successful in this field if you stop learning once you earn a degree or complete basic training at the academy. Continuing education will enhance your knowledge of criminal justice topics through a series of classes, programs, seminars, or workshops. These classes are not designed to help you earn an advanced degree in criminal justice. They are designed to give you an efficient in-depth look at a particular topic. Classes can usually be completed with a few days, weeks, or a month.

There are many different ways to take continuing education. Here are a few of the most popular delivery methods:

  • Classes - Community colleges and universities offer a variety of non-credit criminal justice classes. These classes focus on specific topics like investigation procedures, forensic science, DNA analysis, or corrections. This is a great way to quickly learn about a particular area you need to gain more knowledge in.
  • Employer Training - Many police departments and federal agencies offer classes on legal procedures, fitness training, investigation methods, and building community relationships. Some of these training classes will be required while others are voluntary. If your schedule permits, take some of the non-required classes too. These classes will not only help you perform your job better, but management will take notice of your extra initiative.
  • Seminars / Lectures - Seminars and lectures are efficient ways to learn more about a specific topic. You just have to attend and soak up the information. Projects and exams are not required. Popular topics include criminal interdiction, clandestine labs, terrorism, gang investigation, and asset forfeiture.
  • Self-Directed - Perhaps you just don't have the time to attend a lecture or a class. You can still continue your education. There are self-study classes you can take on your own time. Plus, there are plenty of books, journals, or magazines you can read to learn about criminal justice practices and new advancements within the field of forensic science.

Benefits of Continuing Education

Enrolling in continuing education programs will require you to take time out of your busy professional and personal schedules. However, the time will be well spent. Here is a look at the main benefits you can receive from continuing your education.
  • Better Job Performance - The knowledge you gain in these classes can help you perform your job better. For example, you may learn about an interrogation technique that can help you draw more information out of suspects. Classes will also teach you about efficiencies you can apply in your work. Understanding how to use a specific computer program can significantly cut down on the amount of paperwork you fill out by hand.
  • Higher Job Satisfaction - If you are stuck doing the same thing day after day with no opportunity to learn new things, your work will become boring and dry. Continuing education classes can add a spark to those daily tasks. Learning about new topics or new ways to do something makes your job more interesting. More interesting work leads to higher job satisfaction and better job performance.
  • Better Opportunities - Employers are more likely to hire a person who has experience and is committed to continuing their education. These people are not content to just sit back and wait for someone to grow their career. They take the initiative to learn as much as they can about criminal justice topics. Employers feel this type of dedication will transfer over to the jobs they are asked to perform.

Last Updated: 04/29/2014