You have likely stumbled on this article because you are wondering if a career in law and justice is right for you. With so many different career paths to choose from, how can you possibly be sure that you are making the right choice? Sometimes, you have to trust your gut, but if this isn’t enough, consider the factors mentioned below.
It’s important to distinguish between fiction and non-fiction, and this couldn’t be truer for a career in law and justice.
The crime television series that you watch on Netflix might have sparked an interest in this field, but the real life work of a lawyer, police officer, or another professional working in this sector is nothing like what is portrayed on TV. Even the media sensationalizes crime, and this is something that you must learn how to analyze if you want to pursue this career path further.
Naturally, there are countless other considerations to keep in mind, so continue reading.
You watch a lot of crime television shows
Do you spend a lot of your time watching crime television shows? Whether it’s Criminal Minds, Law & Order, True Detective, Sherlock, Breaking Bad or another show, you are interested in the notion of criminality, law, and justice.
However, you must always keep in mind that Hollywood produces these shows for entertainment, and they are not an accurate depiction of how real life cops operate, for instance.
Crime is never solved within an hour, and investigations take a lot of time. Although it’s not as high paced as the television shows portray, working in law and justice still has its rewarding moments, particularly if the field interests you.
You use a lot of legal jargon in everyday life
How much legal jargon do you use throughout your everyday life? Even if you only do it with your friends and family members, this could already be a sign that you want to explore the topic of legality even further.
There are hundreds of legal terms that you will need to learn if you want to pursue a career in law and justice seriously. This particularly applies to lawyers and judges that spend a vast majority of their time in court.
Media versus reality
Crime is also portrayed very differently in the media to what the real-life facts are. If you are interested in law and justice, this is something that you must be aware of.
For instance, violent crime is not on the rise, unlike what many people believe to be true. It has fallen in the past quarter of a century, and it has been on a steady decline since the 1990s. However, the public’s perception is completely different.
When you start to hear crime stories in the news, people often believe that those stand-alone scenarios are widespread. The data, however, says something completely different.
It is your job to be aware of what the public thinks about justice, how it is executed, and what the reality of the situation is. Doing so will make you more knowledgeable in your field, and it will accurately prepare you for a role in law and justice.
Your skill sets and personal interests
What are your skill sets and personal interests, and how do they align with a career path in criminal justice?
Criminal justice requires an understanding of the law, but you will also need several soft skills, whether you are a police officer, detective, paralegal, working in forensics, or if you are employed in another similar role.
By working in law enforcement, you must help uphold certain ethics in society, and a few skill sets that you will need to build include:1. You are analytical
You must analyze the world around you, and that consists of the cases that you will be tasked with at work.
Depending on what your role is, you should be familiar with the law, but you must learn how to apply it correctly. Alternatively, if you choose to work in public policy, your analytical skills will also come in very handy.
If you are a person that thinks critically and enjoys problem-solving, then a career in law and justice will be much easier for you.2. Want to help others
No matter what type of job you are looking for in this particular field, you will be working with other people. In particular, do you enjoy and want to help others? If you are looking for a more solitary line of work, then law and justice are not necessarily for you.3. Communication skills
Expanding on the previous skill set, you will also need to work on your communication skills, considering that you will be required to talk to people regularly.
The good news is that this is a skill you can learn and advance even before you are hired in your job of choice.
While you are attending school, for instance, or volunteering, and even during your part-time work while at college, you will be interacting with people, and you will have the possibility to hone this skill.4. Research
Research will be particularly useful depending on what role you want to obtain in law and justice.
While a police officer will not require such rigorous research skills, a criminal justice expert and lawyer will have to be highly proficient at this.
Your research skills must include being able to assess data, create charts, and other graphs that you can share with your team.5. You enjoy challenging yourself
Would you want to work at a job where you have the possibility to challenge yourself and learn new things daily? Law and justice is such an industry.6. Never a dull day
If a career in justice sounds appealing to you, then you can guarantee that it will never be a dull day at work.
Of course, keep in mind that crime is never solved as quickly as it is in television shows, but that doesn’t mean that your daily tasks will not require you to think critically and problem solve. In fact, you will need every other skillset that has been mentioned so far.
Take a look at the job market
Take a look at the job market in the city where you live. What types of openings are available? Different jobs in law and justice all have different prerequisites, but you must always also look to be hired where there are opportunities present. Alternatively, if you are willing to relocate, you could instead live in another city where there are more job openings in the field that you are interested in.
The different types of jobs that you could consider includes:
- Police officer
- College professor
- Correctional officer
There are other roles within this field, but it’s crucial that you always keep in mind the following two factors when looking to get hired:1. Job stability
What is your job stability like if you are hired as a police officer versus a paralegal? It’s important that you always pursue the role that you are more interested in, but your likelihood to get hired, as well as the type of salary that you will obtain, are incredibly important to consider for your quality of life.
Therefore, remember to do some prior research within the city that you live, in order to find out what opportunities exist in the first place.2. Good health and retirement benefits
Some people may even choose to pursue law enforcement due to the career benefits that it offers.
For starters, law enforcement personnel, particularly those that work at the federal level in society, receive good pension and retirement packages.
Everyone gets older with time whether you want to or not, and thinking about your future is thus a necessity. Why wouldn’t you want to be employed in a job where you know that you will be financially secure even when you are over 60?
Getting educated in the field of your choosing
Once you have settled on what job you want to pursue further in law and justice, you will need to get the necessary education. You need to grow your expertise in your field, and be able to perform your job very well.
If you don’t, you will not get hired in the first place. Therefore, you should start by considering what your options are for your:1. Undergraduate degree
Your undergraduate degree is always your first priority towards pursuing your career. Once you graduate high school, you can start applying to different colleges; you just need to make sure that they offer a program that you are interested in.
Moreover, do you want to attend a college locally or in another city or country? You should always look at what your options are for finding the best academic institution for a particular subject.
On the topic of law and justice, you could take a look at criminology programs in Canada you could enroll into, for instance. Studying criminology will prepare you for a degree in law enforcement, public safety, or, of course, simply obtaining a job as a criminologist.
One other factor to consider could be finding an academic institution where you are able to get your degree online, such that you can complete your coursework in a way that personally benefits you.2. Standardized tests
Depending on the job, once again, you will be required to study for and complete specific standardized tests before you can continue with your education.
One such example could be studying for and passing the LSAT, otherwise known as the Law School Admission Test.
Alternatively, if you want to pursue your master’s or even a Ph.D., you might still require a standardized test depending on where you want to pursue it and what the requirements are for that academic institution.3. Training
The last component to consider when it comes to education is getting the necessary training.
If you want to become a police officer, for instance, you will need to attend the police academy, which will also require you to undergo a certain amount of physical training.
There are still other career paths that may require training in the form of internships and practicums, which you can complete while you are attending College.
Don’t get a criminal record
Working in law and justice, you have to be a legally abiding citizen, and that is why it’s crucial that you don’t get a criminal record!
Even if you were not working in this field, there are many companies that conduct employee background checks, and it’s vital that you come out with a clean record. If you don’t, this will also impact the likelihood that you will get hired.
When it comes to getting hired, it’s always worthwhile to attend industry relevant events and to learn how to network. The chances are that your academic institution will offer you the possibility to participate in these types of events in the first place.
Moreover, even if you don’t get hired at your dream job right off the bat, remember that you can build up your experience with time.
Progressing in your career
Simply because you start working shouldn’t mean that your career progression has come to a halt.
Instead, you might even realize along the way that you want to become a judge after you’ve worked as a lawyer, or you may wish to progress from a police officer to a private investigator. The point is that you should continue soaking up as much new information as possible while you work, and keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities, as they arise.
Above all, remember that there’s nothing more important than considering whether or not this particular career path aligns with your personality. Does the thought of waking up in the morning to work as a lawyer, police officer, detective, or another role excite you?
You are always far more likely to excel in anything that you do if it personally interests you. After reading this article, you should be one step closer to realizing whether or not a career in law and justice is right for you and your lifestyle.