Career opportunities abound for graduates of criminal justice degree programs. These five jobs with the federal government offer fulfilling and in some cases, exciting career opportunities for criminal justice grads.
1. FBI Agent
The FBI employs over 35,000 people whose jobs involve everything from forensic science to intelligence analysis to field investigations. The FBI requires job candidates to have an accredited bachelor’s degree and be at least 23 years old, but under the age of 37. They must be eligible to carry a firearm and obtain top-secret clearance. Special Agents don’t just investigate criminal activities and engage in law enforcement operations. They are educated in STEM, cybersecurity, health care, accounting, and psychology. An assignment might involve bribery, civil rights violations or transnational terrorism.
2. Secret Service Agent
Hollywood movies always present Secret Service agents as protecting the president, but they also conduct counterfeiting investigations. U.S. Secret Service agents are assigned to protect former presidents, major presidential candidates and visiting heads of foreign states and their spouses. Other career job titles include forensic photographer, operations research specialist and protective support technician. They also have specific requirements, such as passing a polygraph exam, having correctable 20/20 vision and qualifying for GL-07 level academic experience. This translates to a four-year degree or one year of legal, administrative or law enforcement experience.
3. U.S. Marshal
The U.S. Marshals Service has similar job requirements like the two agent positions above for criminal justice graduates. They also require job candidates to pass a 21.5-week intense basic training program. Those who lack a four-year degree may qualify at the GL-05 level if they can prove they have experience preparing concise reports, problem-solving with limited resources and making tactical decisions under stress. Their job assignments include three major areas. First, judicial security through protecting judges and jurors through the Court Security Officer (CSO) program. Second, transporting prisoners through the Justice Prisoner and Alien Transportation System (JPATS). Third, fugitive apprehension as glorified through the Harrison Ford film The Fugitive.
4. AFT Agent
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (AFT) investigates violations of federal laws that fall within the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice. They conduct investigations, gather evidence, execute warrants and arrest suspects. They prepare comprehensive case reports and may testify before grand juries and court hearings. The AFT requires job candidates to pass the ATF special agent exam, applicant assessment test, and Pre-employment Physical Task Test. The physical abilities test, which the military also uses, makes applicants perform sit-ups, push-ups and a 1.5-mile run. Finally, criminal justice graduates who apply must pass a field panel interview and provide a writing sample.
5. BPA Agent
Border Protect Agents are well-recognized as the law enforcement who monitor and prevent the smuggling of drugs, illegal products, and undocumented aliens into the country. A growing area of focus at Customers and Border Protection is preventing terrorists and their weapons from entering the country. BPA’s work closely with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agencies. The most common position is watching the border, which involves things like sighting aircraft, infrared night operations and maintaining surveillance from a hidden position. Some agents even follow tracks and physical evidence on horseback in the desert.
Most people don’t realize that there are also job opportunities for criminal justice graduates within the IRS, Post Office, National Park Service and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as law enforcement officers and criminal investigators.