Getting into Criminal Justice Work

Getting into Criminal Justice Work

If you’re looking at careers, then work in the criminal justice system is well worth your consideration. It’s easy to get the wrong idea about it: there’s a great deal more to criminal justice than simply prisons.

It can be difficult to work out how to get into the criminal justice system – as a career! The route in as a ‘user’ of the service is somewhat more direct – so that’s what we’re taking a look at today.


One of the key ways to be successful in finding work in criminal justice is by bringing experience to the table. For all that you can study and train to know the right way to respond in different situations, in the flesh those situations can soon feel out of control and intimidating. Being able to bring to your application evidence that you’re already experienced with the sort of work you’ll be doing is the sort of vote of confidence that mere qualifications cannot provide (though to underplay their value is foolish).

Where do you get relevant work experience, though? Look at how the jobs you’re interested in map onto other careers. You might expect a background in law enforcement and policing to be helpful to you, but in fact a surprising amount of work in the criminal justice system, from youth offending jobs to parole officers, are more similar to social workers than the police.

Creating a structure and helping people who, historically, have had difficulty engaging with the usual mechanisms of society to connect with those systems (from unemployment payments and job applications to joining doctor’s surgeries) all help with preventing re-offence rates, or reduce the risk of people turning community service into a prison sentence with some poor judgements.

It follows that the same opportunities that give social workers valuable experience can also serve you well as a way to boost your early chances of a job in the criminal justice system. Different jobs also come with different requirements, including degree courses and certifications, so before you make a decision about the future direction of your career make sure you’ve taken into account what you’re going to need to study to get there. For example, to be a Probation Officer you will need an honours degree in Community Justice to ensure you have all the necessary skills and knowledge.

Combine the relevant qualifications with demonstrable experience of getting the job done, and you’ll be well on the way to your first paying job in the Criminal Justice System.