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Top 5 Criminal Justice Careers for 2011

Criminal Justice Degree programs and jobs

If you’ve ever seen Law & Order or one of its dozen spin-offs, you know just how important criminal justice is.

Now, most problems aren’t easily solved in 42 minutes by surprise witnesses and shocking evidence. That’s why the top criminal justice careers are vital, and if you want to be a part of that field, there’s no better time to start than 2011.

From forensic scientists to probation officers, criminal justice professionals are all about catching the bad guys and making sure that we are safe.

If you have a burning desire to help people and don’t want to spend years in medical school, criminal justice just might be the path for you. And to boot, you don’t have to sit through commercial breaks along the way.

Here are the top 5 criminal justice careers based on projected job growth by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All of these careers have a higher growth rate than the average job.

5.) Correctional Treatment Specialist – Growth Rate 19%
Basics: Readjusting to society after spending time in prison isn’t easy, and correctional treatment specialists are there to make sure these people reform and reintegrate. After all, someone has to make sure both these individuals and the public are safe.
Education Needed: Undergraduate degrees in social work, psychology, criminal justice, or a related path. Prior experience in the field also comes in handy, such as work in counseling or criminal investigations.
Everything Else: For more stats on the job growth, typical salary, and more, visit our correctional treatment specialist career profile.

4.) Probation Officer – Growth Rate 19%
Basics:
Much like correctional treatment specialists, probation officers work with citizens who have been convicted of a crime, but their crimes didn’t result in jail time. This means that the individuals must check in with probation officers through regular visits, hopefully reforming their ways and continue on with their lives.
Education Needed: In addition to various oral and written tests, probation officers generally have an undergraduate degree in social work, criminal justice, or a related field.
Everything Else: For more stats on the job growth, typical salary, and more, visit our probation officer career profile.

3.) Forensic Science Technician – Growth Rate 20%
Basics:
No, it’s not exactly like CSI, but that‘s probably a good thing. Forensic Science Technicians analyze crime scenes and evidence to determine everything about the crime. These professionals are essential in most murder investigation, and you can even play The Who songs as loud as you want.
Education Needed: A degree in criminal justice or laboratory science is necessary for a entry-level position, although many universities are beginning to offer specialized degrees in forensic science. David Caruso-type sunglasses and hair are optional.
Everything Else: For more stats on the job growth, typical salary, and an interview with a forensic scientist, visit our forensic technician career profile.

2.) Private Investigators & Detectives – Growth Rate 22%
Basics:
If only life were like the old black and white movies. Then we could seek out Humphrey Bogart whenever we had an important case that the cops just couldn’t crack. However, in the real world, insurance companies, law firms and other business hire private investigators and detectives for surveillance work and other type of investigations.
Degrees Needed: Private investigators need a degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, or political science, although requirements for this career vary by state.
Everything Else: For more stats on the job growth, typical salary, and more, visit our private investigator career profile.

1.) Paralegals and Legal Assistants – Growth Rate 28%
Basics:
Although the name sounds like “For Legal!” in Spanish, paralegals and other legal assistants aid lawyers in casework. With the litigious trend on the rise, the need for paralegals will continue to increase in a big way.
Degrees Needed: The requirements for a paralegal are not set in stone. The majority of them hold associate’s degrees in paralegal work, while some have bachelor’s degrees and others just learn on the job.
Everything Else: For more stats on the job growth, typical salary, and an interview with a professional paralegal, visit our paralegal career profile.