Learn more about careers in law and justice. Find information on law and justice careers, job outlook, salary, and recommended schools. View popular schools that prepare students for careers in law and justice.
Do you enjoy the rigors of due process? Do you believe in fairness and equity for all? Do you enjoy solving scientific puzzles? If you answered yes to any of these questions, a career in law and justice may be right for you. Over the last decade television shows such as CSI, Law and Order and Dexter have highlighted the various elements and aspects of law and justice careers. Although many of these accounts are dramatized, advances in technology and the criminal justice field have created exciting opportunities for professionals seeking careers in this discipline.
In general, law and justice represent two different elements of the criminal justice system. However, when combined together, these two elements provide a foundation for the modern justice system which is imperative to protecting the human and civil rights of all citizens. In both disciplines, the jobs that professionals perform are focused on upholding the law and ensuring that those charged with a crime are prosecuted fairly. Individuals that work in the field must have a high level of expertise with, and understanding of, the law. Understanding of the law will be critical for the professional to apply it in various settings to properly protect individuals accused of a crime and society as a whole. Because the field of law and justice is so diverse, individuals seeking careers can effectively match their areas of interest with a specific job. Law and justice professionals are needed in a number of different areas to provide comprehensive support for the criminal justice system.
Because law and justice are two different components of the criminal justice system, the careers available to individuals in each are notably different and unique. For instance, individuals seeking careers in law may be best suited to acquire positions as lawyers, investigators or paralegals. Individuals wishing to practice law must acquire a Bachelors Degree and a law degree. Paralegals and investigators, on the other hand, may obtain a certificate or Associates Degree to obtain a job in their field. Professions in law require professionals to have a clear understanding of the law and how it can be applied in society.
Individuals seeking careers in law and justice may also want to consider those that are more focused on justice. Justice careers encompass a broad range of disciplines including: law enforcement, probation services, court services, private detectives, correction officers and crime scene investigators (think: CSI). Many of the careers available in this field require understanding of the criminal justice system and its operation. As such, a Bachelors Degree is often recommended for many of these jobs. Individuals seeking careers in law enforcement can enter the field without a college degree; however, these individuals may be required to acquire specialized training at a policy academy.
Salaries for professionals working in law and justice will be different depending on the specific area of focus for their occupation. For instance, median income and wages for police patrol officers was $51,410 in 2008 with a range between $30,070 and $79,680. Median income and wages for probation offers and correctional specialists, on the other hand, were $45,901 in 2008 with a range between $29,490 and $78,210. Salary differences also exist depending on the specific agency that employs the professional. Justice professionals working on the federal level typically command salaries higher than those provided to state and municipal employees.
Professionals working in law typically command different salaries due to the education level and type of work involved in the profession. For example, median salary and wages for lawyers was $110,590 in 2008 with a range between $74,980 and $163,320. Lawyers working in private practice typically command higher salaries than those working in local or state government agencies. Median income and wages for paralegals is dependent upon the level of education needed for the job and the area in which the professional works. Generally speaking, median salary and wages for paralegals were $46,120 in 2008 with a range between $29,260 and $73,450.
Job outlook in law and justice is also contingent upon the specific area of specialization for the professional. Employment in police work is projected to be favorable until 2018 for individuals that are highly qualified. High demand and competition for these positions will limit the number of individuals that will qualify for employment. As the number of individuals available for hire in these positions increases, police departments will become more selective in their hiring practices. Individuals seeking employment in probation and corrections however will have more opportunities for acquiring a job. This profession is expected to grow faster than most occupations.
Professionals seeking careers in law may find that competition for jobs in this discipline is more intense. The number of positions for lawyers, for instance, is expected to experience average growth when compared with other industries. However, the number of qualified lawyers to fill these jobs is expected to increase over the coming years. Paralegals will also see similar trends in their employment prospects. Paralegals with advanced training, certificates and degrees will be able to compete more aggressively for positions in this field. As competition for paralegal positions intensifies, additional education and training will be an asset for the professional.