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.
If you decide to study this social science, you will have a
wide range of job opportunities available to you. Consider the following
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
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
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 itselfâ€”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
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.