Things to Think About Before Taking a Criminology Career

Don't Take a Decision to Start a Second Career Lightly

Job Interview Advice
••• A job candidate is ready for his interview. U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs

There are plenty of reasons to want to work in a criminology or criminal justice career, and just as many - if not more - things to consider before deciding to look for a job in the field. Especially for people looking to change jobs or find a second career, there are several things you need to think about once you've decided to take the leap. If you've done your research and think you've found the right job for you, here are just a few more things you should mull over to make sure you're making the right career choice.

Can you afford to take the job?

Even if you're fresh out of college or high school you're going to have expense and bills to pay. Perhaps even more so if you're looking for a second career later in life. Many criminal justice and criminology careers offer relatively modest salaries, so before you decide to take the job, make sure it is a salary you can live with - and live on.

Do you need a specialized degree?

Depending on the job you're looking into, you may need to have a specialized degree. Forensic science careers, for example, typically require degrees in the natural sciences. On the other hand, there are several criminal justice jobs that don't require any degree at all. Before you quit your day job, make sure you have the education you need for the job you want.

Is there an age restriction?

Some criminal justice careers, particularly those in law enforcement, may have age restrictions. Federal law enforcement jobs, for example, have an age limit of 37 years old to be hired, unless you meet specific criteria, such as a military veteran or former federal employee.

Check the specific requirements for your chosen job to be sure you meet any age criteria.

Will I have to relocate?

Sometimes, you have to go where the jobs are. There's a good chance that, if you're looking for a specific job, you may have to be willing to move in order to get hired. And in some cases, particularly with federal and state jobs - state trooper careers, for instance - you will very likely need to be prepared to be sent anywhere your agency works or has jurisdiction. If you're not willing to relocate, you may need to reconsider your career choice.

Are there physical requirements?

Some, though not all, careers in criminal justice and criminology have strict physical requirements you may have to meet in order to make the cut. Again, law enforcement and corrections job, in particular, require you to be able to perform certain tasks. They may measure this through a physical abilities test or physical fitness assessment. Whatever the assessment tool may be, find out if you need to get in shape so you can be ready for the job.

Do you need experience?

Even if a specific degree or educational background isn't required, you may need to bring a certain level of experience to the table.

Check the job requirements to make sure you have the experience you need for the job you want. If you're not there yet, you can improve your prospects through volunteer work and internship opportunities.

Will your background be a problem?

It's little secret that many of the jobs in criminal justice and criminology require thorough background checks. If you've got some skeletons in your closet that you think may be troublesome for you, do a little research ahead of time to make sure that there's nothing in your background that might keep you from getting hired. If there is, you'll need to reconsider your employment options.

Make Sure You're Qualified

When you're considering a career change, you need to make sure that when you take the leap, you land on solid footing.

The best way to do so is by exploring the specific requirements for the job you want and doing plenty of research on the agencies you may want to work for.

Ensure you have the background, experience and qualifications for the job, and that you can earn the salary you need. In doing so, you will set yourself up for long-term success and enjoy a rewarding career.