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Justice Careers

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Chapter 1: Career Planning

Career planning begins with self-assessment—learning who you are and what you can and want to do by evaluating your interests, skills, and values. Self-assessment tools, which pose a series of questions and identify potential career choices based on your answers, are available from most college and university career counselors as well as in bookstores and on the Internet. These self-assessment tools typically help you assess:

  • Personal information—education, experience, achievements, personality factors, and interest in various activities
  • Skills—abilities in such areas as athletics, analysis, management, communication, and persuasion
  • Values—ranking work-related issues (such as job location, pressure, security, responsibility, teamwork, and wages) in order of importance

Career Assessment Links

The following links include several “career assessment” tests. Of course, you should not base such an important decision on a simple test. These tests provide an opportunity for you to think about the things that most interest you as you think about career options. It may be helpful to think of these online assessments as “idea generators” rather than valid career assessments. Note that some of these tests are used as “hooks” to get you to visit a site that lists positions, generates leads, sells career guides, or provides other fee-based products or services. Inclusion of these links should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any of these sites. Reliable career assessment tests may also be available in the career resource center at your college or university and you are encouraged to take advantage of this resource.

Career Builder


Career Key


College View


Future Proof Your Career




Online Career Assessment


Quintessential Careers


Self-Assessment Resources


Wet Feet


Occupational Research Links

America’s Career Infonet


Bureau of Labor Statistics – Occupational Outlook Handbook


Career Center (Texas A&M)


Career Lab


Career Planning Research (New York)


Federal Hiring Practices


Homeland Security Careers




Path to Employment


Riley Guide





The process of career planning, when done properly, is very time consuming. Know who you are, what things interest you, and where you are in the process of career planning.

If you are just starting out as a criminal justice major you may not have many options as you work your way through core courses. The good news is that lower division courses typically provide a broad overview of career options. These courses may also give you an opportunity to write research papers. The research required to write these papers will allow a further examination of the justice system and the role of justice professionals.

Once you begin taking upper-division courses you will have more choices and can select elective courses that may help you identify career options or focus on options that have been selected. You will also have the opportunity to get involved with internships and volunteer service to the community. Each of these options can lead to a much clearer picture of the justice system, the various roles to be filled, and how you might fit into this system. You will also be able to help your community, which is probably trying to stretch a justice budget that falls far short of what is necessary to adequately meet demands. These volunteer opportunities can be found by checking with community agencies, talking to the internship coordinator in your department, and by joining the criminal justice club or other campus groups who are dedicated to community service.

As you near graduation you will need to become more focused on your search. A focused search, by an informed, prepared, and engaged student will be much more fruitful that one in which the job seeker relies on a limited number of resources. The following sections of this text include job descriptions and relevant links that can be used to help you learn more about career options in the justice system. This text is intended to be a valuable tool for all criminal justice students, regardless of which stage they currently occupy. Learn about careers, evaluate yourself and your options, and do all you can to prepare yourself for a rewarding career as a justice professional.

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