Greg Richter is a retired police captain.
He is presently Director of Safety and Security at a private university and an adjunct professor of criminal justice
What makes a successful Criminal Justice professional?
Answer: The best way to insure that you are successful in your choice as a Criminal Justice Professional is twofold. First, make sure that you choose the career that is right for you, and second, make sure that you are completely prepared for the career you have chosen.
The Criminal Justice System basically includes Law Enforcement, the Court System and Corrections. Within each one of these fields are literally dozens of choices of professional occupations. The most common choices are apparent; police officer, forensic investigator (CSI), attorney, corrections officer and probation officer.
Additionally, there are opportunities with the Criminal Justice System for almost every interest including positions as varied as park ranger, forensic scientist, juvenile social worker and air marshal.
In order for you decide which career is best for you:
1. You must first think about what your own interests are, what motivates you, what you enjoy, and your personal career goals.
2. Then, do some research and find the job within the Criminal Justice System that fits your personal and professional desires. There are many websites with information about the various occupations within the Criminal Justice System. You may also check out the web page of the agency that you are interested in being employed. These sites will contain basic information such as job duties, minimum requirements and how to apply.
On a personal note, I decided early that I wanted to be a police officer with a goal of becoming a homicide investigator. I obtained a college degree in Criminal Justice and applied at several agencies in south Florida. I was hired as a patrol officer, was promoted to detective and ultimately worked in law enforcement for 33 years and retired as a Captain.
How do you recommend a person can start in this career (foot in the door)
Answer: I would recommend that after deciding what you want to do in the Criminal Justice System, that you learn everything you can about that occupation. Find out the job requirements and then do everything that you can to make sure you are the most qualified person for that position. If the job requires a specific college degree, enroll in school. If the job requirements include physical or mental capabilities, practice for those skills. If you can, volunteer or work part-time at the specific agency until the position you want becomes open. It is also a good idea to speak to professionals that are already working in the field, they have valuable insight.
Pros in this industry:
- Highly Respected Occupation
- Diversity of Job Options
- Job Security
- Attractive Benefits
- Feeling of Accomplishment and Exciting Work
Cons in this Industry
- Shift Work
- Little Room for Mistakes
- Public May be Critical of your Actions
- You May be Involved in Physical / Deadly Confrontations
What are some recommendations that you can make to someone that is in school studying this?
Answer: If you are currently in school studying Criminal Justice. STAY IN SCHOOL! The better you perform in school, and the more serious you approach your studies, the better you will perform on the job. The study habits and critical thinking skills that you practice in school will later be an invaluable resource in your job. It is also a good idea to approach your criminal justice classes with a practical application in mind. Ask yourself, how will I apply this on the job someday?