The field of criminal justice offers several career opportunities. Depending on your educational attainment, age, and work experience, you can be a police officer, a detective, a criminal investigator, or a police dispatcher. Working in law enforcement isn’t only a noble and satisfying job, but it’s also fulfilling since it allows you to be part of something good.

However, as you age, you may find fieldwork to be physically demanding and energy-draining at times. Or, maybe you’re just at a point in your life where you want to try something new, with less responsibilities but more income. If you’re committed, passionate, and resilient enough, you can advance your career in criminal justice.

How To Advance Your Career In Criminal Justice

Different careers in criminal justice would either require a high school diploma, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree. Once you get in, you’ll have the opportunity to improve your skills and also take some steps to advance your career.

What can you do to grow professionally as a law enforcer, you may ask? Here are some tips that you could try and follow:

1. Never Stop Learning

This tip applies to any type of career or profession. If you want to have room for growth, you should always continue to learn, develop, and enhance what you currently have, including your education, skills, abilities, and limitations.

If you’re aiming for a higher position and you want to have a longer and more successful career in criminal justice, you should consider getting a bachelor’s degree. If you already have one, opt for a master’s degree. Having a Master of Science in Criminal Justice will surely give you an edge among your other colleagues.

Additionally, having any of the MSCJ degrees available can help you land a high-level role in managerial, consultative, and educational capacities in criminal justice. You’ll no longer have to engage in fieldwork and other physically demanding tasks because your master’s degree will be your gateway to a more advanced criminal justice career.

2. Improve Your Skills

There are several skills that a criminal justice employee should possess and continue to improve. If you want to be on top of your game, you shouldn’t pass up the chance to potentially improve these skills:

  • Public speaking
  • Written communication
  • Decision making
  • Critical thinking
  • Time management

These soft skills may not be initially required when you applied for the job, but as you go about your responsibilities, you’ll realize that they’re in fact essential. Being a law enforcer often requires you to interact with different kinds of people in highly sensitive situations. Having and improving the skills above will prove to be very helpful in any situation, sensitive or not.

Also, when you focus on improving these skills, particularly your writing and critical thinking skills, you can consider applying for a promotion in your office. Several criminal justice jobs require excellent communication and critical thinking skills where you can apply what you have, such as being a detective or crime scene investigator.

3. Strengthen Your Legal Knowledge

Criminal justice professionals are always faced with unpredictable situations. As such, you need to be quick and alert when it comes to making decisions. Having strong legal knowledge will make you more confident and unyielding in any action and decision you make.

Understanding the implications and nuances of the law will also allow you to make faster and better decisions. Therefore, you should always be updated and educated about the latest legal standards or if there has been any change in the law.

4. Be Honest, Ethical, And Integrous

Being a criminal justice professional comes with a certain power. Along with that power is a greater responsibility to uphold certain values. Some of the most important values that you always need to advocate are honesty, ethics, and integrity.

Keep in mind that you’re representing a respectable institution that’s committed to upholding the law and justice at all times. In times when law enforcement scrutiny is visibly increasing, it’s more important that you prevent further mistrust of police. Thus, be honest, ethical, and integrous so you can contribute to the pride and good image of the criminal justice system.


There’s nothing wrong with wanting to advance your career in criminal justice. In fact, it’s highly recommended, especially if you want to stay motivated and challenged at work. To successfully do this, you need to attain a higher level of education, as well as improve your skills and stay true to your values as a criminal justice worker.

If you’re up for it, you can even consider pursuing other fields of public service. A bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree can be a good starting point for a career move like that. Just stay hardworking and don’t stop learning. Soon, you’ll be on your way to shifting to a better and higher-paying job in criminal justice.