As a career advances, professionals often find it beneficial to engage in additional education by adding a professional certification to their list of credentials. Many fields offer additional certifications that can help underscore additional training and experience.
Completing a certification program can draw attention to a specific area of expertise and may help leverage the competitive edge as a prospective employer sifts through résumés to find the best candidate.
The field of criminal justice is no stranger to professional certifications. Professionals who have completed a criminal justice degree have great versatility and, depending on professional goals and years of experience, a wide array of certifications is available to augment a degree in criminal justice.
Completing a certification program can help determine a more focused career path. Here are some of the most popular and in-demand certificates for criminal justice graduates to pursue:
- Crime Scene Technician Certification
This certification prepares students for crime scene work, including the proper procedure for collecting, processing and storing all types of evidence from DNA samples to large items like vehicles. Different jurisdictions will have different requirements and programs may last a few months to two years.
- Private Investigator Certification
This certification develops best-practice interviewing and surveillance techniques as well as other specialized skills such as understanding the legal guidelines involved in this work. Most programs can be completed within a few months.
- Certified Criminal Justice Professional (CCJP) Certification
This certification is also known as the Certified Criminal Justice Addiction Professional Certification. The certification includes 270 hours of courses related to working with drug offenders. While states will vary on their requirements, approximately 6000 hours of experience with drug offenders is typically required to complete the program. This certification is popular with correction officers, probation officers and others interested in working with drug offenders.
- Police Officer Certification
This certificate takes about a year to complete and is not the same as police academy training. It does provide a good foundation for future police work and may provide a bridge from those working in security jobs to develop the skills and knowledge necessary for police academy entrance.
- Professional Peace Officer Certification
Also known as a Peace Officer Skills Training (POST) course, this certification is a good option for individuals pursuing a position in local or state law enforcement organization. Requirements for this certification will vary from state to state but generally may include: completing criminal justice courses, completing a police academy curriculum, passing written and verbal tests and physical examinations.
- Certified Legal Assistant (CLA) Certification
Sometimes this credential is referred to as the Certified Paralegal (CP) certification. This certification is for professionals interested in becoming a paralegal. General requirements include completion of a legal assistant training program or documented and approved “years of related experience.” In order to work a as paralegal in most states, professionals also need to complete the standardized CLA/CP exam.
For students and career changers interested in pursuing a job within the criminal justice system, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is a versatile way to open many doors. Through obtaining additional training and years of experience, a new career path might emerge or one skill set may become more in-demand than another. As interests develop over time and new opportunities unfold, considering the benefits of an additional certification program may help criminal justice professionals keep their skills fresh and reach rewarding new career goals. Find out more about earning a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice degree.
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