|A wide range of options are available when you choose a career in
the public safety field.
Most entry level jobs in public safety require a high school diploma
or GED only. However, you will be competing with others for these
jobs. The more you can do to enhance your "marketability,"
especially by demonstrating that you are sincerely interested in
becoming a professional, the better you will do on civil service
tests, background investigations and interviews. For most Federal
agencies and some state agencies, you may also need a four year
Students should be
aware that prior felony convictions and misdemeanor domestic
violence convictions are disqualifying for employment in public
substance abuse and other disqualifiers may apply in specific
positions related to law enforcement or forensics.
Facts about Criminal Justice Careers
- Police, corrections, court staff positions and others
involve dealing with the public.
- People are not always at their best in an emergency.
- Authority figures seldom win popularity contests, but
courtesy is required even under pressure.
- Usually good retirement, benefits, and salary increases.
incentive pay for education, bilingual, special skills (K-9,
- Confrontations occur; must be able to handle if unable to
- Satisfaction in helping others, making a difference daily.
to a higher standard than the general public, due to the
higher degree of responsibility shouldered.
- Constant contact with crime and criminals can sometimes blur
the lines, or create prejudice and cynicism.
be a credible witness; testimony can help determine
- Closer scrutiny in personal life than other jobs
References from 15+ years ago.
Credit check for financial problems.
Drug use, criminal record
Friends, family, affiliations.
shifts, call outs, overtime, comp time.
- Shifts not on the same rotation as school semesters, can
interfere with education of employee, spouse, and children.
- 10-hour days, usually.
Facts About Forensic Careers
takes more than one person to do what they do on CSI
a. Forensic Specialist
i. Photographs, collects, preserves evidence.
ii. May do some processing in the lab.
iii. Requires a two-year degree (in California).
i. DNA, ballistics, fiber comparison,
ii. Mostly in the lab.
iii. Usually not an expert in all areas.
iv. Requires a four-year degree in science
Chemistry) plus forensic training.
c. Latent Print Examiner
i. Compares fingerprints manually and with
ii. Requirements vary, but typically 2+ years
comparing and identifying prints,
plus an Associate or Bachelorís
years of experience.
Investigator (sworn position)
Questions suspects, victims and witnesses
ii. Carries a gun.
ii. Police officer who has progressed to homicide
iv. Works closely with forensic specialist.
- Usually a civilian position.
carry a gun; many departments encourage this.
be left at scene alone or with little protection.
be good in science: college-level chemistry and biology
required for degree or certificate.
still pass background (polygraph, references).
- Night shifts,
call outs, overtime, holidays, etc.
scenes are not all indoors
- Canyons, trash dumps, forest, beach, desert.
flora and fauna of all sorts.
require physical exertion: lift between 50 -60lbs, access
not all done with computers
- Computers help team members, they donít replace them.
person has to tell the computer things first; it doesnít
automatically know everything.
- Fingerprint matches are verified by more than one examiner;
the computer is not the final word.