Criminal Justice Career Guide
The Best Way To
Further Your Career Goals!
University Union, 104 & 106
What Can Career Services Do For Me?
Unsure of your career direction or major choice?
• Meet one-on-one with a Career Counselor to explore your options and take assessments.
Want insider information?
• Learn networking tricks-of-the-trade, how to do an info interviewing, and how to research
Need to apply for a job?
• Bring your resume and cover letter in to be professionally critiqued. Also, learn how to develop a portfolio.
Going on an interview?
• Learn about interviewing etiquette and preparation through our mock interview service.
Looking for a job?
• Meet with a Career Counselor to discuss your specific career goals, utilize our online databases
(Experience, Career Search, and E-Leads), meet our on-campus interviewers, and attend a career fair. Also,
check out our salary surveys and relocation resources.
• Participate in a volunteer experience and schedule an appointment with our Internship Coordinator.
Thinking about graduate school?
• Meet with your Career Counselor to help you prepare for further education.
Sample CJ Job Titles: (from http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/justitle.htm)
Law Enforcement Job Titles
Arson Investigator Director of Scientific Services Personnel Specialist
Attaché/Police Liaison Officer Dir. of Standards & Training Polygraph Examiner
Ballistics Expert Dispatcher Public Relations Officer
Booking Officer Drug Enforcement Agent Public Safety Director
Border Patrol Agent EMS Coordinator Radio Communications
Chief of Police Evidence Technician Records Management
Chief of Staff FBI Special Agent School Liaison
Commander Fingerprint Expert Secret Service
Commissioner Firearms Instructor Security Specialist
Communications Specialist Forensic Scientist Serologist
Community Policing Officer Gaming Enforcement Officer Sheriff
Community Safety Officer Gang Crimes Investigator Street Crimes Investigator
Community Service Officer Inspector Superintendent
Conservation Officer Intelligence Analyst S.W.A.T.
Crime Prevention Specialist Investigator T.A.C. officer
Crime Lab Technician Jailer Traffic Analyst
Crime Scene Technician Juvenile Specialist Teacher/Trainer
Customs Agent K-9 Handler Treasury Agent
Data Processing Specialist Lawyer Trooper
Deputy Chief Law Enforcement Planner Undercover Operative
Deputy Sheriff Law Enforcement Rep. Undersheriff
Detective Manpower Allocation Specialist U.S. Marshal
Detention Officer Narcotics Officer Water Patrol Officer
Document Examiner Patrol Officer Witness Protection
Court Related Job Titles
Arbitrator Courthouse Security Lawyer
Assistant Administrator Defense Attorney Legal Research
Assistant Prosecutor Deputy Assistant Mediation Specialist
Background Investigator Diversion Specialist Paralegal
Bailiff Expert Witness Parole Officer
Bondsman Grants Administrator Probation Officer
CJ Systems Planner Investigator Process Server
Court Clerk Judicial Assistant Sentencing Analyst
Court Reporter Law Clerk Victim Restitution
Correctional Job Titles
Affirmative Action Officer Facility Manager Placement Officer
Budget Analyst Food Service Supervisor Psychiatrist/ Psychologist
Business Officer Manager Health Systems Administrator Public Relations Officer
Chief of Programs Juvenile Detention Officer Records Office Manager
Chief of Security Juvenile Worker Teacher/Trainer
Correctional Clerk Leisure Time Activities Transport Officer
Correctional Counselor Specialist Unit Management
Correctional Officer Medical Records Supervisor Vocational Specialist
Employee Development Ombudsman Warden
Specialist Personnel Officer
According to a recent NACE survey, employers say that the perfect candidate is a graduate who brings relevant
work experience to the table. What do you bring? Have you participated in an internship, practicum, relevant
part-time job, or volunteer experience? Obtaining relevant experience in college can give you the competitive
edge you will need to obtain those highly sought after positions. The internship program in the Department of
Sociology and Criminal Justice can help you develop a more complete understanding of the criminal justice
system through real-agency experience.
• How to Get a Job In CJ, http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/jusjobs.htm
• CJ Career Info, www.criminaljusticeusa.com
• MSU CJ Resource Guide, http://www.lib.msu.edu/harris23/crimjust/index.htm
• CJ Links, www.criminology.fsu.edu/cjlinks
• CJ Directory, http://talkjustice.com/cybrary.asp
• National Archive of Criminal Justice Data, www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACJD/links.html
• National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov
• Professional Associations, www.ipl.org/div/subject/browse/law00.00.00
• Mentors from the American Society of Criminology, http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~ascmentr/mentor.html
• Graduate Schools in CJ, http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/jusgrad.htm
• International Links, www.sonoma.edu/cja/info/infop2.html#lawenf
• American Board of Criminalistics (Forensic Science), www.criminalistics.com
• American Academy of Forensic Sciences, www.aafs.org
• International Association of Crime Analysts, www.iaca.net
• Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, www.acjs.org
• American Society of Criminology, www.asc41.com
Law Enforcement Job Links:
Court Related Job Links:
Correction Related Job Links:
Federal Job Links:
• Federal Government Jobs, www.dcjobsource.com/fed.html
• Federal Job Search, www.federaljobsearch.com
• Federal Jobs Net, www.federaljobs.net
• FedWorld, www.fedworld.gov/jobs/jobsearch.html
• Government Departments and Agencies, www.firstgov.gov/Agencies/Federal/All_Agencies/index.shtml
• Govtjobs.com, www.govtjobs.com
• U.S. Government Manual, www.gpoaccess.gov/gmanual/index.html
• U.S. Government Office of Personnel Management, www.usajobs.opm.gov U U
• U.S. Customs and Border Protection, www.customs.ustreas.gov/xp/cgov/careers U U
State and Local Job Links:
• Council of State Governments, www.statenews.org U U
• GovJobs, www.govjobs.net
• GovSpot, www.govspot.com
• International City/County Management Association, www.icma.org U U
• Local Government Institute, www.lgi.org U U
• National Association of Counties, www.naco.org U U
• National Conference of State Legislatures, www.ncsl.org U U
• National Governors Association, www.nga.org U U
• National League of Cities, www.nlc.orgU U
• State and Local Government on the Net, www.statelocalgov.net U U
• State and Local Governments, www.loc.gov/rr/news/stategov/stategov.html
• NC Links, http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/nclocal.htm
• Employment Security Commission of NC, www.ncesc.com U U
• NC Court System, www.nccourts.org/Citizens/Jobs
• NC Criminal Justice Job Bank, www.jus.state.nc.us/NCJA/jobs.htm
• NC Department of Correction, www.doc.state.nc.us/Careers/jobs.htm
• NC Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, www.nccrimecontrol.org U U
• NC Office of State Personnel, www.osp.state.nc.us/ExternalHome
• NC State Bureau of Investigation, www.ncsbi.gov U U
Entry Level Salarys: (from http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/jusjobs.htm) H H
• Federal jobs start at about $31,000, although more selective agencies may start at $39,000 or more.
• State jobs start at about $25,000 but may vary as much as 3,000 to 5,000 either way.
• County jobs start at about $20,000.
• City jobs start at about $20,000 to $30,000.
• Correctional pay varies tremendously from state-to-state. The national average is $19,000, with places like
Arkansas starting as low as $13,000 and places like New York and New Jersey starting at $30,000 and up.
• Court jobs in probation and parole start at about $22,000 to $32,000, but federal positions range from
$27,000 to $49,000.
• Promotions and raises tend to be rapid due to high turnover.
Deciding Where to Work?
Online Research Statistics:
• Justice Research and Statistics Association, www.jrsainfo.org/sac/index.html
• Bureau of Justice Statistics, www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs
• Sourcebook of CJ Statistics, www.albany.edu/sourcebook
• Crime Data Sources in CJ, http://faculty.ncwc.edu/toconnor/data.htm
Possible Questions to Expect:
• Why did you choose our department?
• Why did you choose CJ work?
• What are your plans five or ten years from now?
• Could you shoot anyone if you had to?
• What would you do if you suspected another officer was taking bribes?
• What would you do if you witnessed a purse-snatching while off-duty?
• Who would you rather please, your superior officer or a civilian administrator?
• Have you applied to any other agencies?
• Are you currently participating in any type of personal fitness program?
• Have you ever been involved in a motor vehicle accident or received a speeding ticket?
Online Questions and Answers:
I Want To Go To Grad School, Now What?
Entrance criteria vary between programs and can even change from year to year within a program depending on
the quality of applicants. Deadlines are usually eight months before your entrance date. Determine all deadlines
for graduate school applications, financial aid, and assistantship applications. Send in applications early! Don’t
worry if you shine in some areas bur are lacking in others. Most programs use a trade-off approach to gain an
overall picture of an applicant. Criteria for admissions will typically include:
• GPA minimum requirements range from 3.0 – 3.5. Official transcripts from all colleges attended.
• The GRE has verbal, math, and analytical sections and is similar to the SAT or ACT. It’s offered year-
round and costs $115. Each section has a maximum score of 800, with a “good” score usually above 500-
550. Study for the GRE using resources in the Career Services Center, the Library,
www.testprepreview.com, or www.ed2go.com/webu. The GRE is offered on the UNCW campus.
• The LSAT (for Law School applicants) has reading, analytical, and logical sections, plus a writing sample
on a prescribed topic that isn’t factored into your score, but is sent to law schools to which you apply. The
LSAT is scored on a scale of 120-180, with most students scoring between 145-159. Anything above that
is a competitive score for top law schools. It costs $115 and is offered 4 times per year (June, October,
December, and February). Study for the GRE using resources in the Career Services Center, the Library,
www.west.net/~stewart/logic.htm, and www.lsac.org. The LSAT is offered on the UNCW campus.
• Letters of recommendation (3) can really make a difference so think carefully about who you ask. Choose
people that can truly attest to your academic or work life. Tips: 1) Ask for letters in person (consider
asking 4 people in case one doesn’t get finished on time). 2) Provide your qualifications/resume, goals, and
what program you are seeking. 3) Give recommenders the deadlines. 4) Provide addressed envelopes with
stamps. 5) Waive your right to see recommendations. 6) Send a thank-you letter to show appreciation.
• Personal statement. Include your academic and professional background, long-term goals, and how the
program will help you meet your goals. Demonstrate what makes you more qualified than other applicants.
If you really want to make a strong impression, relate your interests to the research interests of the faculty.
Check out these websites for assistance:
• Field/Research Experience. Plan this out early (sophomore year) so you will have enough time to become
vested in the research and demonstrate your talents to faculty who could write letters of recommendation
for you. Check out the internship program in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice.
• Clubs and organizations may be good if they provide you with experiences that graduate schools value.
• Resume with related work/internship/volunteer experience, even if it’s loosely related, can be beneficial.
• Interviews (usually required by more competitive programs).
• Law School applicants must register with the LSDAS from LSAC (www.lsac.org) about 6 weeks prior
applying for law school. LSDAS is a service that that standardizes your grades/scores and sends them to
schools you want to attend. It costs $99 and includes one free report, with additional reports costing $12.
• Law School applicants may need to obtain a Dean’s Appraisal.
Evaluating Law Schools
Attend UNCW’s “Graduate School/Law Fair Information Day” sponsored by the Political Science Organization
and Career Services. In addition, here are some online resources:
• Law School Admission Council, www.lsac.org (The Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools)
• ABA Pre-Law, www.abanet.org/legaled/prelaw/prep.html
• Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, http://officialguide.lsac.org/docs/cgi-bin/home.asp
• 2003 Law School Profiles, http://ilrg.com/rankings/law/list.php
• 2003 Law School Rankings, www.ilrg.com/rankings/law
• Law School Locator, www.bc.edu/offices/careers/gradschool/law/lawlocator
• Law School Ranking Game, http://monoborg.law.indiana.edu/LawRank/index.html
Evaluating a Program
• What will this graduate degree do for me that my undergraduate degree won’t?
• What characteristics distinguish this program from others in the same field?
• What’s the average length of time students spend in the program? Is summer attendance required?
• Is the program accredited (i.e. certified by a national board)?
• What opportunities for leadership are provided?
• Does the program require a thesis, dissertation or passing comprehensive exams?
• What practical experiences are included in the program? (Ask for examples of internship placements.)
• What percentages of students in the graduate program attend full time/part time?
• What is the level of student retention?
• What is the student satisfaction with program? Also consider student gender/ethnic diversity, academic
ability, and professional accomplishments of graduates.
• May I have the names of current graduate students so that I can discuss it with them?
• What is the size of the faculty and faculty/student ratio? Are the faculty teaching or conducting research?
• What have faculty members published? How often do they publish?
• Does the faculty focus on an area that is of interest to you? What is their training?
• What is the cost of attending and will you have to pay out-of-state tuition (compare to other schools)?
• How many and what types of financial aid awards are offered: fellowships, grants, scholarships,
assistantships, subsidized (government pays interest while you’re in school) and unsubsidized loans?
• What are the process and deadlines for applying for the financial aid options?
• What criteria are used for choosing recipients?
Student Life and Campus Facilities
• What are the social and cultural activities of the department?
• How adequate is the library, computer center, and study facilities?
• What about cost, i.e., cost of living, health insurance, on/off-campus housing, car insurance, etc.?
• Where are alumni employed? What can you tell me about last year's graduates?
• What career planning and job-hunting assistance is available?
• What will be your earning potential?
How Many Schools to Apply to?
It’s common to apply to 4-10 schools. This depends on your qualifications, willingness to relocate, field of
interest, etc. Set aside money for application fees ($300-$500). Apply to a range of the following categories:
• 1-3 extremely desirable programs with very competitive admission standards
• Various realistic programs that meet your needs
• 1-3 programs you are confident in being admitted to (Safety Schools)
Tips for Surviving Grad School
• Explore your career goals by researching your occupation and making a list of potential employers.
Review this with your advisor.
• Make friends with all of your professors and the department secretary.
• Don’t throw away anything your professors give you. Stay organized and start a filing system.
• Think about how you’re going to “build” your resume. Participate in activities, such as an internship, that
will give you practical experience before graduation.
• Have some money saved. There are always unexpected costs.
• A full load is 9 credit hours. Don’t take on too much
responsibility. Finding a balance is the key.
• A failing grade is usually a “C”.
• Consider joining a club or organization such as the Graduate
Student Council or the Student Government Association.
• Most Master’s programs require completing either Comps or a
Thesis at the end of your degree. Comps are a written and/or
oral exam. A Thesis is a research paper.
• Really set yourself apart by publishing or making a presentation at a conference.
• Most Doctorate programs require completing a Dissertation (usually a continuation of your Thesis).
• An Assistantship is a part-time position awarded by the university. Apply early; you aren’t guaranteed an
assistantship. Most are considered a Graduate Assistant (GA), Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA), or
Resident Director (RD).
• Network with other students, join professional associations, and attend industry conferences.
• If you have taken advantage of federal loans, you will have 6 months before you have to start repaying
them after you graduate. Consider consolidating your loans for a lower payment.
• If your goal is to obtain a master’s degree and then apply for a doctorate, research what classes and how
many credits the doctorate program will allow you to transfer in.
As soon as you decide Grad School is right for you
• Clarify career objectives and determine if graduate school is the best choice
• Decide what types of programs are right for you and what qualifications are
• Get to know your faculty; ask for advice
• Take your studies seriously and plan to take relevant courses
• Consider completing internships, volunteering and out-of-class experiences
• Research graduate and professional school programs
• Develop your application process timeline
• Let the Career Services Center help you through this process
• Continue doing the above throughout this process
Summer Before Senior Year
• Sign up for required admissions test(s) offered in fall (GRE, LSAT, etc.). If
you want time to take it twice, sign up to take it in June after your Junior year.
• Prepare for and practice to take the admissions test(s)
• Obtain information and application materials from prospective schools
• Consult with professionals in the field
• Research scholarships, fellowships
• Visit institutions if possible; talk to faculty and graduate students
• Take the required admissions tests (you may be able to retake these)
• Verify deadlines for admissions and financial aid materials
• Register with the LSDAS if you are going to Law School (do this 6 weeks
before you plan to apply for law school)
• Secure letters of recommendation and compose your personal statement
• Order transcripts from all post-secondary schools
• Complete applications forms
• Re-evaluate your goals and your progress
• Request Dean’s Appraisals if needed (law school)
• Submit Graduate School applications (may be earlier depending on date)
• Submit Financial Aid applications
• Follow-up with institutions to confirm that they have received your materials
• Prepare for personal interviews if required
• Visit campuses, if you have not done so, to see if this is where you want to
spend the next segment of your life
• Evaluate offers and decide; thank your recommendation letter writers
• Prepare to transition (i.e. find a place to live, get familiar with the area,
complete the FAFSA and other financial aid, etc.)