Jobs with criminal justice degree is the standard, but certifications can take you a long way when it comes to landing a job. It’s all well and good to have a diploma in your belt. But in order to improve your job prospects, you need to obtain at least an additional certification.

Having an extra certification in any area of the criminal justice field will show your employer that you have some mastery of that particular field. This gives you more credibility since you have more credentials than the “ordinary” graduate. For them, it shows that you have gone the extra mile in order to enhance your competence in your field. As a result, employers will be able to give you a very strong consideration.

How Criminal Justice Certifications Beef Up Your Resume

Criminal justice certifications may show that you have certain specific sets of skills or are specialized in a certain field or position which the employer is looking to fill. When pursuing these certifications, you need to know which ones are the most suitable or hold the best prospects for your career. Some certifications will greatly boost your career or open pathways to success in criminal justice field. On the other hand, there are some certifications which are only resume-builders. These don’t really add much value career-wise.

There are things that you should look out for when choosing certifications that you are interested in pursuing.  For example, look at the requirements of the certifications. There are some that are easily obtainable while others require a more rigorous threshold to get.

You should also check if the certification is a requirement or necessity in the career that you are pursuing. Do not just take it because it is there for the taking. Check if it aligns with your career objectives. Spend your money and time on those certifications that you really need rather than on vanity certifications that you won’t really use. In criminal justice practice, some of the essential certifications include the following:

Criminal Justice Certification

Adding a criminal justice certification to your existing credentials is one of the best ways to enhance your skills and also improve your job prospects. The certificate program can introduce you to a host of career-relevant topics that you can apply in your professional work. It will enhance both your skills and knowledge when it comes to ensuring public safety as well as law and order.

Criminal justice certification is often designed for professionals interested in expanding their knowledge on issues of public safety with regards to the criminal justice department and law enforcement.  Getting this certification can also be a stepping stone to obtaining your graduate degree in criminal justice. Check to ensure that your program has the requisite accreditation. Make sure that they are regionally accredited to ensure that your credits are easily transferable to other programs such as master’s degrees and other similar specializations.

Crime Scene Technician Certification

Crime scene technicians are involved in the investigation of crimes by carrying out an analysis on the scene where the crime has been committed. They collect evidence at the crime scene, carrying out data evaluation and finally, presenting their findings.

To be a good crime scene technician, you must have a meticulous attention to detail. Law enforcement officials are often under intense scrutiny by attorneys, juries, and the general public. This is because they rely on them to do their work in the most professional way in order to help society in solving crimes. Certification programs help to develop the expertise and competence in discharging your duty as a crime scene technician.

Most of the crime scene technicians training programs are held in short duration and take anywhere from 6-18 months. Students or professionals undertaking these courses may also choose from various types of certificates. There are those courses which are better suited for those with high school diplomas or equivalent. This is also applicable if you’re just entering the field of criminal justice. It’s also ideal for people with bachelor’s or master’s degree level. Take note that some of the certificate programs are restricted to law enforcement professionals.

Private Investigator Certification

Getting the requisite training along with certification is a very important for success in private investigator practice. Private investigations is generally a career which is multifaceted and you will need a diverse set of skills in order to succeed. Training is not just about achieving a good resume with your clients but it is a requirement for state licensure. Private investigators can obtain formal training such as associate’s, bachelor’s or even master’s degree in fields such as criminal justice, psychology, or criminology.

A private investigator certification is, however, ideal for anyone who wants to learn about the technical aspects of the private investigations job. These certificate courses can cover areas such as:

  • Surveillance
  • Investigations of business crimes
  • Carrying out background research and investigations
  • Legal investigations
  • Locating missing persons and skip tracing
  • Police Officer Certifications
  • The police officer certifications can qualify the law enforcement officials in a variety of specializations. These can include the following:
    • Accident reconstruction
    • Arson investigation
    • Criminal Investigations
    • Crime Scene Technology
    • Narcotics investigations
    • Crime and intelligence analysis
    • Drug recognition

Professionals may also take additional tests in addition to their certifications in order to demonstrate their competence in their roles.

Certification Programs

Here are some criminal justice certification programs you may want to check out:

There are a lot of resume tips out there, but one often overlooked component is the reference part. When applying for a criminal justice degree program, whether associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D.’s, picking the right references is extremely essential for success in the program.

You need to choose wisely in order to give your application some credibility and weight. Just like in any job application, you will only be asked to name referees at the end of your application. These references are important in your application. Most often, it’s as important as your academic history, professional history, and personal statement.

There are a number of reasons why references are important. For example, universities cannot interview every applicant except in some masters and Ph.D. programs. They, therefore, rely on the referees in order to get an overall picture of the applicant. They will use that impression which they get from your referees in order to make more informed decisions. This plays a crucial role on whether they accept you into a criminal justice program or not.

Who Do You Put as a Reference in Your Application Form?

When applying for the criminal justice programs or any other university or associate degree program, you need to include the names and contact details of at least two academic referees. Ideal people to include will be your lecturers and tutors who taught you in a previous course. These are the people who are in the position to comment on your academic capabilities. They are also deemed informed on your suitability for the criminal justice program that you are applying to join. This is especially true when you are applying for a masters or Ph.D. program.

A lot of people in criminal justice service generally continue their education after some stints in professional service. This creates a long gap between studies. Many admissions departments in universities are generally sympathetic to the said situation. They will, therefore, accept your employers as references or any other appropriate person that can competently comment on your academic abilities. You cannot choose a person friend or anyone else who might have a vested interest in you.

Former classmates or family members also cannot be counted as academic references when you’re applying for a degree program. Admissions into these programs at the masters or even Ph.D. level, character references might not carry much weight. It has to be about your academic ability.

Including a former employer as a reference

You need to think very carefully about the appropriateness if including your former employer as a reference. An employer’s reference will be most appropriate in case you are planning to study in the same field or discipline as your former employment or career. You cannot make a quantum leap, so to speak, and expect your college or university to accept a reference from an employer in a field that is completely unrelated to what you are planning to study.

For example, if you are a probation officer and haven’t studied for quite some time but now want to pursue further studies in criminal justice, then it would be very appropriate for your employer to write a reference for you. The same may not be true if you are moving from another field altogether such as nursing or banking and planning to pursue a criminal justice program.

The Do’s and Don’ts When Presenting Your Academic References

Submit all the required information on the application form including their name, title and contact details. The contact details should include their address, phone number, and email address. You must also include the capacity in which you are familiar with your references. This can be anyone from your previous employer, lecturer, departmental head, or tutor etc.

Before you list them in your application, approach your references and notify them of the same. You also need to assess whether they are likely to portray you in a positive light based on your past professional and personal relationships.

In some cases, you may be asked to provide your references alongside your applications. In such cases, you need to contact them directly and request them to provide the references in sealed envelopes. These should be addressed directly to the institution you are applying to or to you. There are also others who don’t require them.

In case your referees choose to email the references directly to the institution, they need to do it in their professional hosted email address such as and not through a free email service such as Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail.  It is not easy to verify the authenticity of emails coming from the free email services. You might as well have opened an email address and sent the reference yourself!

Do not delay your application because your references are not responding fast enough to your request for a recommendation. If one is not coming through, simply place a request to another.

Remember that you can always change your references later on even after you have submitted an application.

Almost everyone today carries different insurance policy types.

Businesses will typically have insurance policies on their properties and other assets. While individuals usually avail of health, car, life, and home insurance policies. Of course, these insurance policies are meant to be claimed should there be an incident that warrants it. However, not all claims are actually made in good faith that’s why fighting insurance fraud is also a big part of criminal justice.

Insurance claim fraud has largely been a rampant occurrence in the insurance industry.There have been many occurrences where people tried to profit by making false claims on their policies. The Insurance Research Council published in their study that as much as 21% to 36% of auto claims are deemed to be fraudulent. Relatedly, the National Insurance Crime Bureau calculates roughly that more than $5 billion in fraudulent compensation claims are lodged annually.

Job Duties and Responsibilities

Due to the aforementioned reasons, insurance companies typically hire a team of insurance fraud agents who are tasked to examine and investigate suspicious claims. This is because insurance fraud cost the industry billions of dollars in duplicitous payouts. The most likely targets for fraud in the past have been property and casualty insurance companies.

This has been one of the reasons why insurance for certain products has become so high. The company is not just charging you to insure your property. They also have to recoup the cost it requires to detect and go after fraud.

In this way, an insurance fraud agent can be similar to a detective or private investigator. Their job involve looking for evidence that either a person or business has intentionally defrauded the insurance company. Agents usually utilize computers and databases to carry out exhaustive background checks. They also use a number of surveillance methods to track the actions of specific people. Also included in their duties are conducting interviews with colleagues, neighbors, family, and relatives of the suspect to further get information. A lot of these agents are called to testify if the claim is contested in court.

How Insurance Agents Investigate

Workman’s compensation claim is a common type of insurance fraud. This is when people overstate the extent or impact of an injury on their ability to work or emotional and mental well-being. Individuals are not the only one guilty of this type of fraud. Doctors, hospitals, as well as even insurance companies themselves have made such fraudulent claims in the past.

Many try to deceive the system for financial gain. Insurance agents monitor for any red flags and after which, they begin an investigation. An agent may follow the claimant in undercover so as to verify the veracity of the extent his or her injuries. If ever he finds an invalid claim in the process, the agent can then file a case against the claimant.

Vehicular accidents are typical breeding grounds for this type of insurance fraud. People often claim head and neck injuries even if they’re okay. In worst cases, some even stage accidents so they can file a claim. If an insurance fraud agent’s surveillance prove these claims to be false, claimants who tried to make dishonorable claims can be tried for fraud.

Education, Licenses, and Certifications

There is no one degree required to be an insurance fraud agent. A GED or high school diploma is often the minimum. However, most insurance companies will demand candidates with at least an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Prior experience working in similar or related criminal justice jobs is also a huge advantage for the job.

Additionally, you can also take certifications that can help boost your credentials. For instance, the International Association of Special Investigation Units (IASU) offers a Certified Fraud Investigator program. The program allows you to improve your investigative and deductive, which are two critical skills required for the job. To enroll, you must be a college graduate and have enough experience working in the field.

Numerous states also require a license to perform investigations. Each state typically has its own mandates, such as meeting minimum educational requirements. Most also require succeeding a background check and acing a written test.

Job Outlook, Salary Potential, and Location

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that job growth in the next few years for insurance fraud agents is likely minimal. This is despite the fact that the number of fraudulent claims is bound to increase. This is because technology is expected to help minimize the amount of time agents spend doing research and background checks.

The federal government approximates that the average salary for fraud agents is at $55,760. Aside from receiving a monthly salary, agents are reimbursed for any expenses incurred during investigations.

Competition is stiff in these jobs and many former military and law enforcement professionals vie for this work. Insurance fraud agent positions are found all over the country, not just with insurance agencies and companies, but with federal and local government as well.

If you love gathering information and brainstorming or carrying out analysis in order to put the pieces together, then you are likely to love the job  of a private investigator.

Private investigators are also called PIs or private detectives and they specialize in carrying out private enquiries on behalf of their clients in order to unearth some needed information or verify some facts for their clients. The PIs will work in various fields including the legal profession, private clients, private companies, insurance companies, businesses and many others.

Some PIs proceed into entrepreneurship and establish their own private investigative agencies whose services can be contracted for various situations.  Because the primary role of the PIs is to conduct investigations, they always carry out a great deal of surveillance and research in order to gather the relevant information for their clients.

Apart from the surveillance activities, PIs also carry out other functions such as verifying the background information of individuals and other entities, conducting interviews on behalf of their clients or performing searches on the public records in order to unearth some information.

What Makes a Good Private Investigator

A good private investigator must have good knowledge of the federal, state and local laws pertaining to the profession. They must also work within those rules as well as regulations. Apart from their investigative skills or their expertise in finding information, PIs also need to have very good people skills. They should be able to remain calm in the toughest of situations in order to deliver to their clients.

Many states are now introducing regulations to do with the conduct of the private investigators. For example, they will be required to have a form of training that is recognized and also licensed by Security Industry Association or SIA. It is always a big plus if private investigators have experience in a security-related industry. PIs must be honest and knowledgeable about the law. They must also have a keen eye for observing the finest of details which will be relevant for the job that they are doing. 

Private Investigator Job Duties and Responsibilities

Private investigators are always employed in very diverse roles of enquiry jobs. For example, they could carry out surveillance and enquiry on personal issues such as divorce or the case of a cheating partner. They can also be involved in company cases and even criminal cases such as theft and murder where they are hired by a law firm or a private client.

PI work involves lots of research and analysis of information. They have to ask lots of questions and compile lots of data that will help their clients find a solution to a particular problem. The work of the private investigator generally involves the following:

  • They can be involved in tracing missing persons and finding witnesses
  • Taking photographs and/or videos that can be used as evidence in criminal or civil cases
  • Working undercover in various organizations in order to unearth useful information
  • Performing asset and liability checks
  • Preparation of investigative reports
  • Carrying out surveillance
  • Performing fraud investigations such as accident claims and insurance claims
  • Process serving of legal documents to people
  • Tracing missing pets
  • Performing investigations on cases of commercial piracy
  • Performing background checks on employees or job applicants
  • Many PIs work alone and are generally self-employed.


Private investigators generally come from various backgrounds. However, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employers tend to have a preference for certain skills sets in PIs. They also prefer certain traits such as resourcefulness, honesty, good observation skills and the ability to work independently. A good PI must be of sound character and with no past criminal records or convictions.  They must have good research skills and good skills in performing interviews in order to unearth important information.

A candidate with a criminal justice associate’s or bachelor’s degree is likely to be very attractive for many employers particularly in the high paying PI jobs such as financial and corporate investigations. Other desirable academic qualifications include an accounting or computer science degree. In spite of the qualifications, many aspiring PIs will have to learn a lot on the job through experience and can increase their skills and attractiveness by taking extra certifications related to PI practice.

Many states have various licensing requirements for PIs. Apart from these, there are certain regulations that must be adhered to particularly for those PIs that carry firearms. There are various organizations that offer professional certifications for PIs and it is important for aspiring candidates to carry out adequate research in order to find the most reputable programs.

Job Outlook

According to data and projections by the BLS, there is going to be massive demand for private investigators in the future. In the 10 years between 2010 and 2020, this is sector is poised to see a 21% growth rate. Like in other security-related careers, this is driven by a very robust demand for increased security. Companies and individuals are also making more investments for the protection of sensitive information. The job is paying well above the average salaries in the US. In the year 2011, the 26,000 PIs in the country earned an average of $48,610. However, the salary potential will vary based on a number of factors such as educational level, employment history as well as regional market conditions.

Projected Salary

Based on data by BLS, PIs earned a mean annual salary of $50,780 in 2012. This is a mean hourly rate of $24.42.  The top 10% earners in the field took home upwards of $79,790.

Investigator Jobs and Openings

Below are some of the latest listings and openings on the job:

The function of the US Department of Homeland Security or the DHS is to keep the country safe from various threats. These threats can be in the form of terrorism to cyber-security threats.

Every aspect of American safety lies under the aegis of the DHS. The DHS was formed after 9/11 following the combination of some 22 federal departments into a single and cohesive entity. The difference between the DHS and the Department of Defense is that it works within a civilian orbit both at home and abroad. It is not military-based.

The Department of Homeland Security covers numerous areas. As a result, it offers wide-varying careers that you can pursue. Some of the departmental components which it covers include intelligence and analysis, transportation analysis along with legislative affairs. Every department in DHS offers an array of career opportunities for different 

The pay scale for every department varies based on the position that you are applying for. This is dependent on your level of competence and experience required by the hiring agency. One of the more commonly known components or departments of the DHS is the TSA or the Transportation Security Administration.

This agency is in charge of transportation security administration. If you are taking a job here such as a transport security specialist, you will be in charge of ensuring compliance with TSA regulations. The remunerations for this kind of supervisory role ranges from $126,657 to 172,550 a year. The rates of compensation for other roles in the TSA vary based on different factors influencing salary rates.

Apart from the TSA, there are several components or child agencies which lie under the DHS. These include the following:

  • The United States Secret Service
  • US Customs and Border Protection
  • The United States Secret Service
  • US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • United States Citizenship and Immigration Service
  • The United States Coast Guard

Job Description

The job description for the various DHS roles depends on the specific position that you are applying for. For example, a candidate in the cybersecurity role in the homeland security will need some computing and computer security skills. He or she should also have the ability to protect the United States cyber infrastructure from cyber-threats. Similarly, someone who works in the emergency response must be able to act quickly and maintain a cool head even during stressful situations.

The law enforcement component of the DHS such as the Secret Service is concerned with the protection of political VIPs. These include the President, the Vice President, families of the President and VP, and visiting heads of states. They also protect various designated individuals such as presidential candidates as well.

Other Tasks of DHS

They are also involved in various other tasks such as securing national borders and the enforcement of immigration laws. They are in charge of enforcement of transportation security through the TSA and interagency security training. More than these, they also handle the enforcement of infrastructure and economic security for the country.

There are DHS careers that have to do with travel and immigration security. This involves the protection of the US transportation system and also ensuring that there is legal immigration into the US. There are DHS careers to do with prevention and response. These are concerned with the protection of the general public, the environment as well as security and economic interests of the United States. They ensure adequate preparedness, response, protection, mitigation, and recovery from various hazards.

Due to the great variety of roles in the DHS, there are diverse skillsets which are required for homeland security positions. There are also general qualities that all DHS staff needs to have such as the ability to take directions. Other important skills include being able to lead teams on various missions that ensure security and protection of US interests whether at home or abroad. Most of the positions in the DHS also follow a direct chain of command.

Educational Requirements for Homeland Security Jobs

Educational requirements for various homeland security positions depend on the area of expertise of the position. There are certain positions such as border patrol which require only a high school diploma. There are also certain positions such as an information security analyst require a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The customs border and patrol officers may also need to have Spanish language skills if they will be patrolling the southern US border.

There are certain positions in the DHS which allow a great deal of flexibility in educational background. For example, a foreign affairs officer can have a variety of options when it comes to educational requirements. If you are planning to work in the DHS, you need to pick a subject area where you wish to work in. For instance, if you are interested in working on cybersecurity, you will need an educational background involving computer security.

Appointments in the DHS are generally made based on General Schedule of the government. This relies on educational background and the jobs are classified based on pay scale. Some jobs, such as trade jobs, may require certifications.

Projected Salary Range

The compensation for all USG positions is generally based on the General Schedule which is updated on a yearly basis.  Pay levels vary widely based on the demands of the position as well as the qualifications of the candidate. The salary range in the DHS also varies based on the geographical location. The US federal government offers all employees health insurance, very flexible working schedules along with a host of other benefits.

The lowest pay for any government worker in January 2014 was $17, 981. The highest paid government employee earned $130,810. Rates are dependent on a variety of factors such as the experience, expertise, pay grade and the tasks the person is charged with. As of 2010, the lowest paid Secret Service agent was earning $43,964 while the highest was earning $74, 891.

Between 2012 and 2022, the projected job growth rates will vary widely based on the DHS position. For example, there is a projected 37% growth for information security analysts and a 5% projected growth rate for the border patrol agents.


The best place to source out job opportunities as a Department of Homeland Security Agent is through their career listing page. This page is frequently updated and lists their latest openings. Applications can be done straight through the site via the “How to Apply” info for every job posting.

A security officer job description helps you know key information about the field. Since security job officer performs a variety of functions in order to ensure public safety, it’d be good to know all your possible options from the get-go. For example, they carry out surveys on areas which have been assigned to them for any illegal activities. These can range from private properties to buildings.

They also offer protection to people from a variety of hazards such as vandalism, terrorism, fires, and theft. They actively patrol assigned areas in order to ensure public safety. In some cases, they use surveillance and security systems in order to carry out their functions.

Security officers also deal with a host of emergencies. Generally, one does not require any academic qualifications in order to qualify as a security officer. However, it is helpful if one has a good education standard. In order to work as a security officer, one will require a Security Industry license. One also needs to be courteous and helpful as security officers generally deal with a lot of public order issues.

Some security officers may be armed like police officers.  However, the kind of tasks the security officers carry out will depend on their work settings.  For example, if you are working as a transportation guard, you will use tools such as detectors for screening passengers. In casinos, security officers will not only be screening people but they also watch out on cases of cheating by gamblers as well as any underage gamblers.

Jobs and Responsibilities for Security Officers

  • Performing patrols, monitoring and securing of premises, often with the help of closed circuit television or CCTV.
  • Checking openings such as doors and windows for any signs that has been an unauthorized entry.
  • Watching out on various irregularities in the premises such as unlocked security doors, leakages or equipment malfunctions and sending incidence reports to the relevant authorities.
  • Monitoring alarm systems and responding to alarms
  • Making security arrangements and issuing security passes to authorized visitors.
  • Offering clients and the public assistance
  • Offering armed escort services for payroll deliveries
  • Monitoring suspects and reporting their activities to the police. In many cases, they may also apprehend and detain suspects as they wait for the arrival of the police.
  • Carrying out close monitoring of the computerized alarm systems and the CCTVs. They then communicate information to their mobile units using radio communications when there is a need to attend to the alarms.
  • Donning Body Armor / Bulletproof Vests – Bullet Proof
  • Performing checks on travelers and their hand luggage in order to detect any security threats such as explosives or any concealed weaponry.
  • They monitor, detect and report any cases of theft, fraud as well as any unlawful activities carried out by business patrons or even employees.
  • Providing security to various organizations such as banks and restaurants.

Security Officer Training

Employers prefer hiring security officers who hold a least a high school diploma or a GED although in some cases, these may not be necessarily required. Having a previous experience in law enforcement duties will definitely give you an extra edge.

When hiring, employers will run background checks on the individuals in order to verify if they have any criminal record. There are employers who also carry out drug tests. Once hired, the candidate will be taken through a comprehensive on-site orientation so as to familiarize them with their roles and responsibilities.

If you will be working as an armed guard, then you must complete a firearms training. The requirements for armed guards vary from state to state. All states now require the registration of security officers who bear arms.  Additionally, armed guards will have to undergo a more comprehensive on-the-job training. There are security guard training and certifications that one can undertake in order to fulfill the requirements of a security officer job and improve their employment prospects.

Apart from the educational requirements, there are various other personal qualities which are desirable in a security officer. These include the following:

  • They must be physically fit. A medical examination may be performed on the candidate.
  • They have to be observant
  • They must possess excellent communication and negotiation skills
  • Must have good eyesight and hearing
  • Must be responsible persons
  • They have to be trustworthy
  • You must be an assertive person who also has good interpersonal skills


According to data by BLS, the median salary of security officers in 2013 was $24,070. The highest paid security officers earned $43, 150 while the lowest paid earned $17, 510.  The best paying industries for security officers include electric power generation along with natural gas and distribution. The areas where security guards earned the highest include Texas, New York, California and San Luis Obispo amongst others.

Job Outlook for Security Officers

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), there will be a steady job growth in the security profession between 2012 and 2022 with an annual growth rate of 12.1%. The good job prospects for security officers is driven by a multiplicity of threats facing many US companies and organizations including increased terrorism, theft, and vandalism. Over that 10 year duration, some 129,600 jobs will be created in the profession.

The majority of security officer positions are in the security services and the investigative services.  Many who work in these areas have an average annual remuneration of $25, 570. The security officers who carry weapons generally earn higher salaries than their counterparts who do not. Additionally, they have greater potential for advancement in their profession and for even higher salaries.


Below are some of the biggest sites that feature security officer listings: