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Criminal Justice

Career opportunities for this field include police officer, sheriff’s deputy, computer forensic investigation as well as entry-level positions in detective agencies and security positions in retail stores. Because of increased security concerns, increased litigation and concern for the protection of confidential information, private detectives and investigators are also in demand. Technology (computer crimes) also fuels this demand.

What characteristics and skills do I need to work in this field?

A criminal investigator must be analytical, with strong scientific and communication skills. An inquisitive mind is very important, along with a certain amount of skepticism. Good research skills are required, since much of the work is done in libraries and courthouses. Communication skills should include oral as well as written communication. In addition, criminal investigators must possess good interviewing techniques and an understanding of people and psychology to discern the truth. Assertiveness is key, especially since some of the work can be confrontational. The ability to use a firearm also may be necessary. A good work ethic is highly valued in this field. Persistence, curiosity and creativity are additional important character traits.

Where can I work?

Criminal investigators work in many different environments, based on the job that is being done. Some work for police forces, private detective agencies, department stores, legal services firms or insurance agencies. Others are self-employed. Depending on the type of investigation, investigators may need to be at a desk doing computer searches or they might be out conducting surveillance.

Criminal investigators can be called upon to work erratic hours, especially when surveillance is required. A typical workday could involve office work, making phone calls, writing reports or conducting computer searches, but most of the day is generally spent away from the office. Investigators may work alone much of the time, and the job can involve stressful or dangerous situations. Store and hotel security personnel work in the businesses they protect.

What does Trident Technical College offer?

The Criminal Justice program at Trident Technical College prepares students to become professionally trained and competent in the criminal justice field. Generally, there are three groups of students in the program: those who plan to seek employment in public or private agencies immediately upon completion of the two-year degree; those already employed in the system who have a desire for further education to qualify for professional advancement; and those who intend to pursue advanced studies in criminal justice, criminology or other programs at four-year institutions.