How to Choose Between Criminology and Criminal Justice Careers

How to Choose Between Criminology and Criminal Justice Careers

Criminologists and criminal justice professionals work in the same circles and share many responsibilities. However, there are some significant distinctions between criminology and criminal justice. Perhaps the most important distinction is that criminology investigates why crimes occur, whereas criminal justice investigates what should happen after they occur.


What Exactly Is Criminology?

Criminology is concerned with determining why people commit crimes in the first place. Professionals in this field may pursue additional social sciences such as psychology and sociology in order to better understand what motivates murderers, thieves, and other criminals. Criminologists use this knowledge to solve open cases, profile the criminal psyche, and advise those working in the criminal justice system on the ground.


What Exactly Is Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice programs and careers revolve around the administration of the legal system on a daily basis. This includes law enforcement officers as well as those who represent clients who have been victimized by a criminal or who have been accused of a crime by the system. Criminal justice professionals rely on criminologists for relevant background information about criminal behaviour, and criminologists hope that their theoretical work will enable criminal justice workers to apprehend and interact with offenders and victims.


Careers in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice is a broad field that includes almost any job involving the active administration of legal consequences. Consider the following criminal justice career paths:

Attorney: Although not all lawyers specialize in criminal law, those who do are crucial components of the criminal justice system. To guarantee that everyone receives a fair trial, they offer both prosecution and defense services. A career in criminal justice paralegal or law clerkship is another option. Some judges concentrate particularly on criminal proceedings.

Police Officer: Criminal justice professionals include both local police officers and FBI agents. A high school diploma is frequently all that is required to work as a police officer. A bachelor's or even a master's degree is required for some jobs if you want to work as a law enforcement officer for a federal government agency (like the DEA).

Probation officer: Another option for a career in the criminal justice system is to work as a parole officer. Rather than incarcerating new criminal offenders, you attempt to prevent recidivism and facilitate effective re-entry for ex-inmates in this position.


Criminology Careers

If you decide to study this social science, you will have a wide range of job opportunities available to you. Consider the following criminology careers:

Criminal profiler: Perhaps you'd like to figure out what motivates people to commit crimes. Criminal profiling is the study of a repeat offender's thoughts and behaviours in order to assist criminal justice officials in identifying potential lawbreakers. Former FBI criminal profiler John Douglas, for example, interviewed criminals in order to better understand their psychology and provide authorities with the ability to catch other criminals in the future.

Detective: You can use your criminology knowledge at a crime scene. Detectives and private investigators use their forensic skills and knowledge of criminal psychology to piece together clues and trace motives back to specific people. To be a good detective, you must first understand why people do what they do.

Forensic psychologist: If you choose to become a forensic psychologist, you may be able to prevent criminal activity before it occurs. As a resident analyst and sociologist for the court system, you'll assess current criminals' psychological states and use what you learn to help foster future crime prevention.


Criminology vs. Criminal Justice

Criminology and criminal justice are two fields of study that are closely related. Law enforcement agencies require people with both backgrounds to achieve the best results in bringing criminals to justice. Both fields are concerned with the study and application of justice.

The primary distinctions between the two fields are primarily a matter of emphasis. A criminology degree emphasizes the study of crime itself—why it occurs, what motivates people to commit it, and how it occurs. A criminal justice degree focuses on how the law enforcement and legal systems work in practice in relation to people who have committed a crime or who have been charged with a crime.


How to Choose a Career in Criminology or Criminal Justice

It can be difficult to choose between studying criminology and criminal justice. Keep the following advice in mind as you chart your career path:

Consider your options. What interests you more: the motivations behind criminal behavior or the desire to see justice in action? If the former sounds more appealing, criminology may be a better fit. If you lean toward the latter, you should consider studying for a criminal justice degree.

Examine specific career paths. See if you can shadow people who are pursuing specific career paths. Call a local jail, for example, to see if you can arrange to speak with a correctional officer. Contact the forensics department at your local police station to see if a criminal investigator can assist you. People on the ground can advise you on what has been most beneficial to them.

Try out some courses. Before committing to a bachelor's degree program in either field, take an individual criminology and criminal justice class. Examining coursework in both fields will help you determine which best suits your interests and personality.


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