Criminal Justice


student working a practice crime scene

People who work in the field of criminal justice may work in a municipal, county, state or federal law enforcement organization or corrections facility. Depending on the field, people may or may not carry a firearm and make arrests; people may also work mainly in a counseling capacity within juvenile corrections. Several other security and similar positions exist within government and private industry. Candidates need to have a desire to work as a public servant, to use good judgment, to be disciplined and thorough, to be capable of managing stress, to treat everyone fairly and without bias while being assertive enough to get the job done. Responsibilities may range from uniform police patrols to crime prevention to data processing and criminalistics, which may be used to support the criminal justice system.

What will I do on the job?

Criminal justice offers a wide variety of opportunities in police work, the court system, adult and juvenile corrections, and community corrections. Work in these fields may include uniform policing, criminal investigations, forensics, working with adult and juvenile offenders and the business community. Police officers and investigators are responsible for working with citizens to solve crimes and maintaining public safety through the community policing concept. Corrections work can include institutional assignments with inmates and also working with those who are on parole, probation, or some other court sanctioned program such as restitution and work release. Those who enter the criminal justice arena can expect to work closely with people at all levels of society to promote public safety.

What skills will I use on the job?

PCC’s program is designed to expose you to the criminal justice system, its many components and how they work together. The Introduction to Professions in Criminal Justice course surveys over 40 careers in this field. You will have the opportunity to learn the elements of criminal investigations, forensics and police report writing. The program also provides an opportunity to learn the criminal laws and how they pertain to enforcement, search and seizure and the gathering and processing of evidence. Interpersonal skills are necessary in the criminal justice field. The Cultural Diversity for Criminal Justice Professionals course is a part of the curriculum. The program is designed to develop skills in interviewing and interrogation, crisis intervention, dealing with difficult people and people who are in need of help because of a crime-related problem.

Who will hire me?

PCC criminal justice students have been hired by numerous law enforcement and corrections agencies. Area agencies and state and federal agencies routinely seek recruits in the PCC program. A variety of juvenile corrections and treatment facilities hire certificate graduates. In addition, these agencies routinely participate in the job fairs held at PCC.

How much can I earn?

Approximate annual salaries in the Portland area start around $38,000, plus overtime; experienced professionals may earn up to $61,000, plus overtime. Municipal, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies normally have excellent benefits, including health, dental, vision and life insurance and retirement.