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4 Entry-level Careers for Criminal Justice Professionals

Criminal Justice careers exist at the local, county, state, and federal levels for those who want to make a difference in the field. Completing a Criminal Justice Training Program is the first step toward discovering if the job that is right for you, or preparing for the job of your dreams. 

A criminal justice career offers the opportunity to help others as well as opportunities for advancement. Below is an overview of some of the most popular entry-level opportunities for criminal justice professionals and the skills required for each.


Loss prevention specialists work in retail locations to prevent shoplifting and employee theft. They watch the sales floor, sometimes in uniform (as a deterrent), sometimes in plain clothes (so that they are less conspicuous to potential shoplifters), watching for any behaviors that may indicate potential theft.

These professionals may use surveillance tools in addition to their observational skills, write/file reports, interact with law enforcement personnel, train new employees, perform security checks around the location, and discuss safety and security issues with management. They are on the lookout for customers concealing and removing merchandise from a store or employees giving out unauthorized discounts or performing fake returns. Loss Prevention Specialists need great attention to detail, critical thinking skills, and communication abilities.


Also called security guards, these individuals regularly inspect a property to secure it against fire, theft, vandalism, and other illegal activity. They may be behind a computer console viewing the property on surveillance equipment, or patrolling the location on foot. Security Officers/Guards are hired by department stores, shopping centers, theaters, parking lots, banks and hospitals, transportation hubs, museums, universities, sports stadiums, and any other location where large groups of people assemble or valuable materials are stored.

These professionals need attention to detail, customer service skills, and communication and written communication abilities. They also must pass criminal background checks and fingerprinting, may be asked to pass a physical, and may need to obtain a license.


When an emergency call comes in to 911, emergency dispatchers are the professionals that communicate the necessary information to the appropriate firefighters, police officers, or other emergency technicians. These individuals are often dealing with high-pressure, life-and-death situations, and may save lives through their work by getting help to those who need it. 

Professionals in the field need strong listening skills, empathy, the ability to multi-task, leadership and problem-solving skills, and typing and computer proficiency. They will usually be asked to pass a lie detector and drug test, have a clean criminal background, and may need state certification.


Often hired to assist with locating missing people, finding hidden information, and investigating computer crimes, private investigator employees work at private agencies or with law enforcement. They often do surveillance and look up background details (legal, financial, personal) on people, perform interviews, look for clues at crime scenes, report to authorities, do pre-employment verification, and may be called upon to testify in court.

All of the careers described above are available to those with a strong foundation in criminal justice, like the one that students get with the Criminal Justice Program at UEI College. In this program, students learn about the legal system, expected workplace behaviors, and many of the skills found in law enforcement and security agencies. They also learn about investigations and surveillance techniques, corrections, justice and security, and many other critical criminal justice topics.

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