While in the past, a career in criminal justice was associated with a uniformed police officer or a stuffy agent in a suit and tie, today’s criminal justice professionals are extremely diverse. They come from different cultural, educational, ethnic, and professional backgrounds. A career in one of the many areas of criminal justice does not always require a degree in the field either. There are many law enforcement agencies that hire individuals with professional experience and educational backgrounds in psychology, accounting, social work, political science, engineering, and many other disciplines: not only those with experience and education in criminal justice and criminology.
Careers in criminal justice can be rewarding and exciting. For those who do not like sitting in an office all day, jobs in a laboratory setting or studying a crime scene may offer a more interesting and varied work environment. There are always new breakthroughs in forensic technology to be tested and different strategies for dealing with criminals. Whether you're interested in finding and apprehending these criminals, investigating crime scenes, guarding U.S. borders, or performing forensic testing in a lab setting, career opportunities in criminal justice are abundant for almost every type of person and personality.
One career that many people fail to connect to the criminal justice industry is that of a mental health and substance abuse social worker. Although this is technically a career associated with the industries of health care and social sciences, many offenders in the criminal justice system nationwide are offenders because of their struggles with substance abuse or mental health. According to the Urban Institute, More than 8 out of 10 returning prisoners have chronic mental, physical, or substance abuse conditions. The period between 2008 and 2018 is expected to experience a 17% increase in demand for this type of social worker in Ohio, with 210 job openings annually.
Of course, anyone who attends online schools in Ohio and earns a degree in criminal justice needs a teacher. Criminal justice and law enforcement postsecondary teachers teach courses in both criminal justice and law enforcement administration. This includes teachers who do a combination of teaching and research. The state of Ohio expects to see a 7% increase in demand for these postsecondary teachers in the period between 2008 and 2018.
Building a Criminal Justice Career in Ohio
There are many colleges and universities in the state of Ohio that offer criminal justice degrees: many of which can be pursued in the classroom or online. Bryant & Stratton, DeVry, and Tiffin University all offer Bachelors of Science degrees in Criminal Justice. For those who already have bachelor degrees, the University of Cincinnati and Bowling Green State University both offer Masters of Science degrees in Criminal Justice. There are also Associate of Applied Science degrees which typically only take two years of full-time study to complete. These associate degrees may be needed for careers as parole officers, loss prevention specialists, clerks of court, crime scene technicians, and federal agents.
Those who are bilingual, especially who speak Spanish, have an advantage when searching for criminal justice careers. According to the 2010 Census, Ohio’s Hispanic population grew by 63% since 2000, while almost tripling since 1980.
As long as there are criminals, criminal justice related careers will always be needed, not just on a national level but also on an international level. Since the U.S. terror attacks in September 2001, there has been an increased focus on immigration, law enforcement, public safety, and domestic terrorism. This has created a higher demand for a diverse selection of qualified criminal justice talent. The demand for law criminal justice professionals will grow by at least 10% through 2018 in Ohio, according to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Following are a sample of careers in criminal justice as well as their respective salaries for Ohio residents from the Bureau of Labor Statistics: • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Worker - $40,360 • Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Postsecondary Teachers -$68,330 • Court, Municipal, and License Clerks - $34,800 • Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists - $46,810 • Federal Transportation Security Screeners (TSA) - $37,160
While a career in one of the many areas of criminal justice could be more easily attained with a degree from an online criminal justice school in Ohio, this is not always necessary. If there is a particular field you are interested, do some research to see if your past employment experience or education could be of use. Ohio’s centralized location and high population (7th highest in the U.S.) make it a great state for pursuing a career in criminal justice.