How to Start a Career in the Criminal Justice Field?


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If you binge on true crime shows and dream of making a significant difference in the world, a career in the criminal justice field may be for you. Criminal justice is a field full of opportunities to help people, protect the innocent, protect property, change lives, and provide purpose.


If you’ve always dreamed of working in a criminal justice or law enforcement position but are worried the schooling to achieve your dream may be too intense, you may be surprised to learn how UEI College’s Criminal Justice Diploma Program can help jump-start your career and prepare you for an entry-level position in as few as ten months.


If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the criminal justice field, consider enrolling in UEI College’s Criminal Justice Program. You can earn your diploma in as little as 10 months, placing you on track to beginning a new and rewarding career in the criminal justice field.

What Careers Does the Criminal Justice Diploma Program Prepare You For?

UEI’s Criminal Justice Diploma Program provides students with the knowledge and training to prepare for a variety of entry-level criminal justice positions. Our program gives a foundational understanding of how the criminal justice system works, control techniques, report writing, professional communication, and observation skills. In the end, graduates will be prepared for these entry-level positions:


  • Security Officer: Security officers may work in a variety of settings protecting buildings from vandalism, protecting individuals, or ensuring safety in public settings. Security officers may work for businesses, government agencies, or private individuals. These individuals are needed at all hours to ensure people’s and property’s safety.


  • Hotel/Retail Loss Prevention: Hotel and Retail Loss Prevention Specialists keep an eye out for anyone who attempts to steal from a hotel or retail business. This position requires great attention to detail, observation skills, and knowledge of control techniques. It also requires excellent communication and people skills so customers and guests can feel comfortable with their presence.


  • Emergency Dispatcher: Emergency dispatchers answer emergency calls and help direct law enforcement officers who are responding to the incident. Individuals in this position must be able to remain calm during stressful situations and be able to de-escalate situations. They must also have the ability to multi-task to ensure the caller feels comforted while responders are on their way.


  • Private Investigator Employee: Private Investigators search for information about a person’s legal, financial and personal background. They may hire recent graduates to help them complete tasks, stay organized and find answers.


  • Store Detective/Retail Security: Retail Security Guards patrol large stores and malls and keep an eye out for anything suspicious. This position requires good attention to detail and observation skills. It may also require good technical skills to be able to monitor areas using surveillance equipment.

“In addition to the personal satisfaction that comes with helping others, Criminal Justice has many varying career sub-paths, all of which promise excellent pay and benefits,” said Christopher Hulsey, Criminal Justice Instructor at UEI. “This means that someone going into this career could easily support their family. 

How to Start a Career in the Criminal Justice Field?

Step 1. Obtain a high school diploma or GED.

A high school diploma is the minimum education requirement for most criminal justice careers. So, if you already have your high school diploma, you’re ready to continue your education and train to earn your criminal justice diploma.


Step 2. Seek Career Training.

There are many different paths to go in the criminal justice field and many avenues to get there. Good training will help you decide which career may be best for you and give you a solid foundation for entering the field.

The criminal justice field can be stressful and challenging. It’s not a good fit for everyone. A good criminal justice training program will prepare you with the technical knowledge you need and some tactics for handling stress, de-escalating a situation, and mentors that understand the emotional toll you may be facing.

What employers in the criminal justice field want to know is that you have the right personality, skills, and knowledge to do the job well. An excellent way to prove your knowledge and abilities quickly is by earning a criminal justice diploma through UEI College.

Our criminal justice diploma program covers a variety of topics, including private security, criminology, crime scene terminology, surveillance, the legal system, gangs, and drugs. It will prepare students for an entry-level criminal justice career and provide a solid foundation for a long career in the criminal justice field.


“One part of our program which seems to be a favorite for the students is our hands-on element,” said Criminal Justice Instructor Christopher Hulsey. “Students enjoy practicing in-class skills such as; handcuffing, dispatch communication, use-of-force exercises in the incident simulator, live contact scenarios, mock-traffic enforcement, and de-escalation training. Unlike other schools that only teach you the concepts and theories of criminal justice, the physical labs we conduct here at UEI actually teach students the mechanics, and methods of security, corrections, police, as well as other aspects of the criminal justice field.”


Step 3. Prepare For the Hiring Process

There is a great need for well-trained professionals in the criminal justice field, but getting hired can be competitive and sometimes frustrating. Many organizations will require a physical exam, interview, background check, drug test, credit check, references, and more to get started. Graduates should be prepared to prove their skills and ethics and be resilient in the face of denials. You can be prepared for these tests by being honest in your answers and prepared with an explanation for any red flags in your past. You should also choose your references carefully and focus on references you have a professional connection with.

Graduates of UEI College can work with our Career Services department to help prepare their resumes, find opportunities in their area, and prepare for the hiring process. Our experienced instructors are also an excellent resource for students as they may have connections in the field and experience applying for those positions. UEI College’s Criminal Justice Program prepares students for entry-level positions in this field, including security guard, theft prevention officer, retail security guard, or emergency dispatcher. Additional training and experience will help further your career opportunities.


Step 4. Search For a Position

Compassionate and enthusiastic criminal justice professionals are a necessity in the field. With the right combination of training and professionalism, you can find an entry-level position as a security guard, retail security guard, loss prevention officer, or emergency dispatcher. If you find criminal justice is something you’re passionate about, working hard, continuing your education, and gaining experience can help you reach any position you set your mind to.


“Depending upon your personal career goals, criminal justice has a vast scope of options available to those who go down this path. Security patrol, security supervision, armored transport, Federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officer, police officer, Bail enforcement officer, corrections officer, juvenile corrections officer, probation officer, parole officer, United States Marshal, Secret Service agent, Community Service Officer, park ranger, game warden, loss prevention/asset protection, and these are just to name a few of the options in criminal justice.”

What Skills Do You Need to Succeed in the Criminal Justice Field?

Careers in the criminal justice field can be challenging and fast-paced. This field requires a passion for what you’re doing and the ability to keep learning and be open to diverse lifestyles, traumas, and ways of solving problems. To be successful in this career field, you need a good combination of hard and soft skills.


Here are some of the hard skills that you should have if you’re considering pursuing a career in the criminal justice field:


Physically fit.

Many careers in the criminal justice field will require a level of physical fitness and the ability to physically stop an alleged criminal. You do not have to be an elite athlete for a criminal justice career, but you need to know how to use your body to help control a situation and be comfortable using tools like handcuffs, ankle cuffs,  and chemical sprays.


Comfortable with weapons and de-escalation tools.

There are several tools that can help a security guard and theft prevention officer carry out their duties. For an entry-level position in this field, you should be aware of these tools and be comfortable using them. Training is necessary to ensure the safe use of this equipment.


Knowledge of local and state laws.

Professionals in the criminal justice field are expected to have a good working knowledge of local and state laws so they can know exactly what to look for and prevent. You should know your rights as a professional in the field, as well as the rights of victims and perpetrators.


Good with technology.

Careful electronic notes and the ability to use surveillance technology will serve you well in the criminal justice field.


Soft skills You Should Work On Include the Following:


Conflict resolution.

Often laws are broken by people who are scared and feel misunderstood. To be successful in this field, you should feel comfortable speaking calmly and working carefully, even in highly stressful situations.


Active listening.

A career in the criminal justice field requires the ability to listen to all sides of the story and pay close attention to evidence as well before jumping to conclusions.


Quick thinking.

Some situations require quick action to prevent injuries or stop a suspect. A career in this field requires the ability to think through possible solutions quickly and choose the best course of action.



An observant security professional can stop or de-escalate issues before they become a larger problem or notice small changes that may mean big problems.


Time management.

Working in the criminal justice field requires being dependable and on time.


Strong ethics.

Careers in the criminal justice field often put people in a position of authority, and with this authority comes a need for strong ethics and character.

A career in the criminal justice field requires thorough training in both skills and professionalism. If you believe you have the above skills and you also have a passion for justice, you should consider training to perfect your credentials and begin your career.

Do You Need a College Degree to Begin a Career in the Criminal Justice Field?

While many criminal justice positions ask for a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, you can enter the criminal justice field in an entry-level position without having a college degree. Most entry-level positions do not require a college degree, and you may be surprised how far you can go with the experience and training listed on your resume. The right combination of skills, training, and experience can be precious. You can stand out as a qualified candidate for an entry-level position in the criminal justice field, as a security guard, theft prevention officer, or emergency dispatcher, in as few as ten months with training from a trade or vocational college like UEI College.


The criminal justice program at UEI will teach you arresting techniques, duties, and functions of a security team, how gangs operate in America, how to manage those who have been accused of a crime and how to use the technology used by law enforcement teams. We’ll also cover securing a crime scene and investigating a scene as well. This training will provide students with a stepping-stone for beginning their careers in the criminal justice field.

What Are the Educational Requirements to Enroll in UEI’s Criminal Justice Program?

At UEI, we can help you begin training for a career you can be proud of, no matter your personal background or experience with your education. We offer programs for various careers in the criminal justice field.


To enroll, you must be at least 17 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. There is no maximum age to enroll because you are never too late to change your career or learn something new.


If you’ve dreamed of a career in the criminal justice field but were unsure how to get started, we invite you to learn more about UEI College by giving us a call or filling out an online inquiry form today.

How Long is the Criminal Justice Program?

You can earn your Criminal Justice Diploma in as little as 10 months at UEI College. We offer ongoing enrollment so students can enroll at any time and begin classes on the next class start date—usually within one month of enrolling.

What Do You Learn in the Criminal Justice Program at UEI?

Students in the Criminal Justice Program at UEI learn techniques and tools to manage safety and security and gain foundational knowledge of how the criminal justice system operates in America. Students have the opportunity to put these skills and knowledge into practice with hands-on exercises and drills. Through nine program modules, students will be introduced to the following:

  • The history and ethics of private security
  • Legal powers of private security guards
  • Patrol techniques for security guards
  • Report writing
  • Liability
  • Making arrests
  • Skills needed to manage prisoners accused of crimes
  • Differences between detention facilities, jails, and correctional facilities
  • How to use handcuffs, ankle cuffs, and chemical agents
  • Reporting processes in correctional facilities
  • Basic forensic and crime scene processing
  • Recovering fingerprints, blood splatter, and ballistics
  • Preservation of evidence
  • How to protect a crime scene
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Identifying leads
  • How to maintain a chain of custody
  • Surveillance and undercover techniques
  • How to operate surveillance tools
  • Difference between types of investigations
  • Professional communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Problem-solving
  • Crimes, laws, and the statute of limitations
  • The letter of the law vs. spirit of the law
  • Methods of terrorism and counter-terrorism
  • Assessing threats
  • Observation skills
  • Victim’s rights
  • Criminal profiling
  • The role of the criminal justice system
  • Reasons for the existence of gangs
  • Preventing gangs
  • The connection between gangs, drugs, and prisons
  • Effects of illegal drug use
  • Various methods of communication
  • Modern technology in security
  • Emergency radio codes


During hands-on lab time, students will practice making arrests, securing a crime scene, performing surveillance, and taking emergency calls about domestic violence, active shooters, assaults, and more. At the end of the course, students should understand how the criminal justice system works, the opportunities for career advancement, and the techniques used in an entry-level position.


“I think the students like the hands-on training that they receive at UEI College,” said Criminal Justice Instructor Charles Cunha. “They get to experience real-life like scenarios in a training environment where they aren’t afraid to learn. They enjoy the training because they receive the knowledge and skill set that they desire.”

Should You Train For a Career in the Criminal Justice Field?

There is a place for compassionate and well-trained people in the criminal justice field. If you love a good challenge and have a passion for protecting the rights of others, the criminal justice field may be a good fit for you. This career field is full of opportunities. So, if you’re interested in training for a criminal justice career, consider enrolling in UEI College’s Criminal Justice Program.


That said, every career has its pros and cons. Some of the cons of working in the criminal justice field include:


Potentially dangerous.

People committing crimes are often desperate and scared, putting those trying to stop them in danger. This is why proper training is necessary—ensuring you have the tools to handle whatever comes your way.



Work in the criminal justice field is often very physically and emotionally taxing. You may work with individuals at the lowest point in their life or protect valuable assets. It’s essential to have an excellent self-care routine to help cope with the stress of the job.


Long hours.

Those working in the criminal justice field may be asked to work at all hours of the day and on weekends as well. You never know when an incident may occur.


Some of the great things about the criminal justice field include:


Rewarding career.

No matter what area you end up in the criminal justice field, you can take pride in helping, protecting, and serving people. For example, as a security guard and theft prevention officer, your job is to protect people and the business you work for. As an emergency dispatcher, you would be the one to answer the call when someone is in trouble. Working in this field requires taking on a great deal of responsibility, but it can also lead to great rewards.


Growth opportunities.

There are many different avenues to take within the criminal justice field. When you have a good understanding of the criminal justice system, the tools and techniques used, excellent communication skills, and a great work ethic, you never know where you may end up.



Working in the criminal justice field is challenging. It’s not a perfect fit for everyone. That’s why those who are highly trained and excited about the opportunities are likely to be successful in the field. If you have a passion for this work, there are individuals and companies across the nation who are interested in hiring the right candidate.

If you have an interest in working with people through a difficult time, ensuring justice for crimes committed, or protecting individuals and businesses from being the target of a crime, then you should seek training in criminal justice. A good training program can give you a better understanding of the opportunities available to you and help you see if this is an area you have a passion for.


“Criminal Justice is a rewarding career path for people who wish to help others. When an emergency happens, while most people run the other way, or record the action with their phones, these students are the people who will run toward the danger,” said Instructor Christopher Hulsey.

What Should You Look for in a Criminal Justice Program?

If you’re considering seeking training in the criminal justice field through a vocational school or trade college, there are several things you should look for.



Look for a program that offers flexibility that fits your schedule. UEI College’s Criminal Justice Program is offered in a hybrid schedule. Students take part in online lectures and complete homework assignments and quizzes virtually through any device. Twice a week, students come to the campus to practice these concepts through hands-on labs. We also offer daytime and evening courses.


Hands-on Experiences.

Careers in the criminal justice field are typically very hands-on, so it is important to be able to practice tactical skills in person. Arresting techniques, using security equipment, and patrolling techniques should all be practiced under the supervision of an experienced instructor. Students should also have the opportunity to practice setting up a crime scene perimeter and investigating a mock crime scene.



When looking for a criminal justice training program, you should also take a good look at the support offered through the school. UEI College is set up with ambassadors and mentors to help students feel comfortable and accepted. Tutoring and extra lab time are available for students who need it. We’ll also help build a resume you can be proud of and locate job opportunities in your area after graduation.


“If you are looking for a challenging and rewarding career, Criminal Justice is the profession for you! There are an abundance of opportunities in the criminal justice profession,” said Criminal Justice Instructor Charles Cunha. “You can be a Security Officer or U.S. Border Patrol Agent, Police Officer, Corrections Officer, Crime Scene Technician, Crime Analyst… the list goes on… You can also study other disciplines that relate to criminal justice such as chemistry, biology, anthropology, entomology, odontology, psychology… and still find a career in criminal justice. UEI College is your first step in your quest to finding a rewarding career.”

Consider Enrolling in UEI College’s Criminal Justice Program!

At UEI, we have the right combination of support and experience to help you get started in a career you can be proud of. If you enjoy solving puzzles, following clues, conducting surveillance, and helping people, our Criminal Justice Program will help you turn your curiosity into a career you can use. In as little as 10 months, you can train for an entry-level position in the criminal justice field and begin working confidently.


Our support starts the moment you step on campus for a tour. We’ll walk you through each program and explain the schedule and curriculum. We’ll also have you sit down with our financial aid team to see if you qualify for any grants, scholarships, or financial aid. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.


We offer ongoing enrollment allowing you to enroll the same day and begin classes on the next start date. We provide all the tools and uniforms needed to complete your course, so you don’t have to worry about buying additional textbooks.


Our programs are hands-on and based on gaining experience through real-life practice. Each day you’re on campus, you will have the opportunity to put your skills to use and learn by doing. Our experienced instructors thrive on creating mock scenarios for students to learn through.


At the end of your training, you’ll have access to our Career Services Department which will help you write your resume, practice interview skills, find references and locate open positions in your area. With the right training, skills, and practice, you will be ready to find an entry-level position in the criminal justice field right away.


At UEI, we are obsessed with student success, and we are ready to help you prepare for the career you’ve dreamed of. Do not let a lack of education stop you from joining the criminal justice field any longer.