Tyler Junior College

Criminal Justice

Career Opportunities

Criminal Justice 

Nature of the Profession: Criminal justice professionals provide vital services to protect citizens. Trained and educated law enforcement officers, probation and parole officers, and correctional officers play important roles in the provision of these important services. Law enforcement officers investigate crime and protect the property and the lives of the people on their jurisdiction. Probation officers also spend much of their time working for the courts. Correctional officers maintain order within a correctional institution, and enforce rules and regulations.

Education and Training: Background qualifications for criminal justice professionals vary by jurisdictions. However, more agencies are now requiring significant college credits, with most requiring an Associate’s degree or higher. A Bachelor's degree in social work, criminal justice, or a related field from a four-year college or university is usually required for probation and parole positions. Most federal Criminal Justice related positions also require the individual to possess a Bachelor’s degree. Prospective criminal justice professionals should be in good physical and emotional condition. Most agencies require applicants to be at least 21 years old. Those convicted of felonies (and in many cases, most non-traffic misdemeanors) may not be eligible for employment. Applicants are typically screened for drug abuse, subject to background checks, and required to pass a written examination. In addition, many jurisdictions use standard tests to determine applicant suitability to work in a criminal justice environment.

Working Conditions: In the course of working the Criminal Justice field can be very dangerous and stressful. Workers may be assigned to high crime area or in institutions where there is a risk of violence. Criminal Justice professionals must be able to work in a diverse population, working shifts, weekends, holidays, and make split-second decisions.

Workers may be required to carry a firearm or other weapon for protection. Workers generally work a 40-hour work-week, but some may work longer. They may be on call 24 hours a day to supervise and assist offenders at any time. They also may be required to collect and transport urine samples of offenders for drug testing.

Salary Range: Starting pay ranges from $27,000 - $53,000 per year

Employment Outlook: Job opportunities for criminal justice professionals are expected to be excellent for qualified individuals. Expected growth in the job market varies from 11% for criminal justice positions to 16% for correctional related positions over the next decade. Most jobs are found in state or local governments; however, there is also significant job growth in the federal sector. The need to replace individuals in the Criminal Justice field who transfer to other occupations, retire, or leave the labor force, coupled with rising employment demand, will generate thousands of job openings each year.

Law Enforcement Investigators

Nature of the Profession: Criminal justice professionals provide vital services to protect citizens. Trained and educated law enforcement officers investigate crime and protect the property and the lives of the people on their jurisdiction. The principle task of law enforcement investigators (also known as detectives) is to collect evidence and obtain facts pertaining to criminal cases. They do so by conducting detailed investigations, interviews with witnesses, observing and interrogating suspects, processing physical evidence and examining records.

Education and Training: Background qualifications for law enforcement officers and detectives vary by jurisdiction. However, more agencies are now requiring applicant to possess a significant number of college credits, with most requiring an Associate’s degree or higher. Most federal Criminal Justice related positions also require the individual to possess a Bachelor’s degree. Most agencies require applicants to be at least 21 years old.

Those convicted of felonies (and most non-traffic misdemeanors) may not be eligible for employment. Applicants are typically screened for drug abuse, subject to background checks, and required to pass a written examination. In addition, many jurisdictions use standard tests to determine applicant suitability to work in a law enforcement environment. Many agencies promote uniformed officers from street assignments to plain-clothes detective positions via a competitive examination and/or interview process.

Working Conditions: Police and detectives work can be very dangerous and stressful. Workers are usually required to carry a firearm or other weapon for protection. Workers generally work a 40-hour work-week, but some may work longer. They may be on call 24 hours a day to investigate crimes at any time. Police detectives may often work a specialized case load that they work until the case is dropped or solved and someone is arrested and convicted.

Salary Range: Starting pay ranges from $27,000 - $53,000 per year.

Employment Outlook: Job opportunities for law enforcement officers are expected to be excellent. Expected growth over the next decade for these jobs is 11%. Most jobs are found in state or local government agencies; however, there is also significant job growth in the federal sector. The need to replace law enforcement officers who transfer to other occupations, retire, or leave the labor force, coupled with rising employment demand, will generate thousands of job openings each year.

Note: Information and data obtained from Occupational Outlook Handbook, TWC Tracer, and CareerOneStop.

Criminal Justice Contact Information

Jason B. Waller, MS
Department Chair
Office: Pirtle T-331

Email: jwal@tjc.edu

Telephone: 903-510-2539

Advising contact: 903-510-2347