Career Opportunities for Criminal Justice Degree Holders in the Private Sector
When looking for a good college to attend for a degree in criminal justice there are a few names that immediately stand out; John Jay College, Sam Houston University, New York State University, Michigan State University and Ferris State University. These schools are among the best in the country when it comes to teaching their students how to function in the public sector of law enforcement. They tailor their programs to specific government paid jobs and manage to work in a few courses designed to promote social well-being. These programs, as good as they are, have virtually no courses for individuals who seek a career in the ever expanding private sector of criminal justice.
Many professors at schools like those listed above are either police officers teaching part time or retired police officers, prison guards, probation officers or some other cog in the criminal justice system. These individuals provide a vast amount of career oriented information and personal insight that can provide students pursuing government paying criminal justice careers useful knowledge for their futures. This is a great advantage for the future police officers of this country, but what about the other individuals in these programs who have no desire to be in the next season of Cops?
Skills like interviewing, accident reconstruction, report writing, crime scene assessment, legal studies, and information analysis are all included in the four year criminal justice package. These skills will aid in any career that the student chooses, but what about the skills needed to go into the rapidly growing private sector? These schools have curriculums that do not include basic private sector skills like skip tracing, insurance investigation, surveillance, database techniques, and public record location. As a private investigator, private security agent, insurance investigator, surveillance operative or bail bondsmen these skills are far more useful than being able to name eleven different theories in criminology.
The reality about learning actual techniques used by private investigators is usually never part of a formal education track at a University. Much of this training comes from private investigator associations (i.e. www.TALI.org, www.CALIPI.com or www.MCPIhome.com), professional training firms (i.e. www.reid.com or www.iii.org ) or is learned on the job. Because there are so many specialties and sub-specialties within the private sector, it is difficult to imagine the academic community being able to offer a reasonable course selection for areas like internal employee theft, surveillance, skip tracing (www.Witnesstrackers.com) and the like.
Having recently graduated from one of these academic programs, I can state with certainty that not one class period for an entire four years of schooling focused on private sector jobs. Professors often give statistics on how many jobs are available to students with credentials in criminal justice, but little more beyond that is provided. What I found was that along with jobs like physical security guard, prison guard, or social worker - all of which come up on an internet job search - that there are many other opportunities out there for individuals with four year criminal justice related degrees. I found that, of the companies looking for applicants with criminal justice backgrounds, most conduct work in; investigations, loss prevention, private security, risk assessment, risk analysis, paramilitary, and surveillance.
Most of the private sector jobs out there are for private investigating companies. These companies advertise services ranging from spousal surveillance to corporate background investigations, to finding the location of debtors. Who would be best qualified to do those jobs and what type of education makes a person most suited to conduct those types of services? If you stop to think about it, the most qualified individuals for these jobs are people who have backgrounds in criminal justice. These Private Investigation companies are hired by attorneys, insurance companies, employers, private citizens, and in some cases even government agencies. The job of a private detective varies daily and often includes speaking with witnesses, debtors, insurance claimants and sometimes even criminals. Most people envision private detectives as driving Italian sports cars and kicking down doors or they think of the guy in the back of a van with a camera taking photos of cheating spouses. These portrayals are not very accurate. Most private detectives today spend the vast majority of their day in front of a computer, on the phone or driving from courthouse to courthouse digging for dirt.
So what is there to look forward to in the private sector? Well as many former government employees have found, the rate of pay as well as the working conditions can be far more beneficial outside of the public arena. Many police offices, military personal and federal agents find themselves seeking jobs with civilian investigating companies. Most private detective agencies are comprised of individuals from varying background, but those with criminal justice degrees are most sought after. This type of education prepares students to think critically and question everything. Companies across the country are looking for people with these skills. Partner all of that with some specialized training and you are ready to make it in the high paying, highly satisfying and less dangerous private sector.