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Why you should work in criminal justice

From local and state governments through to customs, courts, and correctional facilities — a qualification in crime and justice can open up a diverse range of in-demand career options.

If you're thinking about working in crime and justice, you might be considering a career as a police officer. What you might not realise is that police are just one part of Australia's wider criminal justice system. From local and state governments through to customs, courts, and correctional facilities — a qualification in crime and justice can open up a diverse range of in-demand career options. 

A smart career choice

Criminal justice is one of the oldest professions in the world. For a long as there have been rules and laws, there have been people whose role it is to enforce those laws. Working to help the greater good, enforcing the rule of law, or helping victims of crime can be an incredibly rewarding career. Law enforcement and criminal justice roles also require you to think on your feet and use problem-solving skills on a daily basis. If you love a challenge, then a career in crime and justice could be right up your alley. 

Career prospects in the Australian criminal justice system are strong. In a world where more and more jobs are being replaced by machines, roles in criminal justice aren't going anywhere. People in this profession require critical thinking and interpersonal communication skills — things that can't be automated by robots. With an exciting range of opportunities in crime, justice, and law enforcement available, you'll be sure to find the perfect career path for you. 

Work in the police force

If you want to make a difference to your local community, a career in law enforcement as a police officer is a solid career choice. Police officers investigate minor crimes, attend traffic incidents, issue traffic infringements, and patrol and assist their local communities. Police can also become criminal investigators or detectives, often specialising in certain areas such as burglary, intelligence, or homicide.

Why become a police officer

There's a number of reasons why you may want to consider becoming a cop. It's a role that can bring with it a great amount of personal satisfaction. You may find yourself in life-or-death situations, being the first responder to a car crash, armed robbery, or potential homicide. Or you may save lives in less obvious ways, breaking up fights, stopping speeding drivers, or responding to domestic violence incidents. 

Police can also impact people's lives in other ways. They often deal with people when they're at their worst, but each drug addict, gang member, or thief has the opportunity to turn their life around. Police help criminals to make better choices in the future and get the help they need to become a productive member of society. 

They say that variety is the spice of life, and any police officer will tell you that their job is never dull. No two days are the same with each shift bringing a new range of challenges and opportunities. Facing these challenges together with their fellow officers means that police have incredibly strong camaraderie. While police protect and serve the community, they literally put their lives in the hands of their coworkers, forging tight bonds that rarely exist in other professions. 

Job outlook for police officers

According to the Australian Government's Job Outlook service, the number of people working as police officers and detectives is expected to grow strongly in the future. There's likely to be around 9,000 job openings in the Australian police force over the next five years, offering strong opportunities for the next generation of law enforcement professionals. 

How to become a police officer

If you want to become a police offer, a course in crime, justice or law will help you stand out from the crowd. A diploma is by far the most common qualification members of the police force hold. According to Job Outlook, more than 44 per cent of the Australian police force hold a diploma or advanced diploma qualification. TAFE Queensland's Diploma of Crime and Justice Studies (10284NAT) has been designed in conjunction with the Queensland Police Service, so you can rest assured you'll graduate with the skills you need to enter the force. 

Become a paralegal

Another career path in crime and justice is to enter the legal profession. An entry-level qualification such as a diploma will qualify you to become a paralegal, working alongside attorneys to help them investigate claims, conduct research, and prepare legal documents for upcoming trials. Qualified paralegals can enter a number of different types of law such as criminal, family, immigration, and corporate.

Paralegals play a huge role in legal proceedings and a career in this area can be just as fulfilling and important as any other law career. Despite what you may think, paralegals are often highly valued as they perform crucial duties for attorneys and other legal support staff. The role can also be very satisfying as you help both clients and your firm to build a solid case. 

Work in corrections

Corrective services offers job opportunities in prisons, detention centres, community corrections, and government agencies. You could work as a prison officer, supervising inmates and maintaining the overall security of the prison. Being a prison officer takes a special type of person. It's a job with a lot of responsibility, accountability and variety. Similar to police officers, prison officers are in a unique position to help people, serving as a role model and educator to inmates. They help match offenders with programs that can rehabilitate them and minimise their risk of re-offending, making the community safer for everyone. 

According to Job Outlook, demand for correctional officers is expected to grow strongly in the near future. There's expected to be around 11,000 job openings for qualified prison officers in Australia over the next five years. Employers are looking for qualified candidates who are caring, compassionate, empathetic, and can communicate clearly with a diverse range of people. 

Become a parole officer

Parole or probation officers work with offenders to ensure they meet the terms of their probation and parole agreements. Tasks include interviewing and reporting on the development of offenders, and helping them access support for any mental health or substance abuse issues. A qualification in crime and justice will give you a strong advantage over other applicants in the social justice area.

Working with convicted criminals can be challenging and fulfilling role. Probation officers play an important role in society, helping rehabilitate criminals to become productive, law-abiding citizens. Helping offenders re-enter society not only benefits the offender, but the wider community as well. If you're compassionate person looking for a role with excitement and variety, then becoming a parole officer could be the right job for you.

Work in public policy or government

There are a range of admin, support, and compliance roles in public policy and government that a qualification in crime and justice can unlock. Opportunities are available in statutory bodies and government departments such as the Department of Justice and Attorney General, or the Crime and Corruption Commission.

Working in the public sector has many advantages. Working for the public interest to ensure the smooth running of the country can give you high job satisfaction. Unlike private sector companies who can go out of business, working in government gives you strong job security with numerous career prospects. Government agencies also often have flexible work arrangements, generous parental leave entitlements, and allow for a good work/life balance. 

Become a court clerk

Court or legal clerks provide administrative and operational support to legal professionals. Possible job titles include law clerks, clerks of court, court bailiffs or sheriffs, or court orderlies. Court clerks play an integral role in our court system, helping to uphold the rule of law. They function as liaison in the courtroom between judges, attorneys and the public. Daily tasks may include handling court records, processing legal documents, scheduling cases and hearings, executing court orders, and serving summonses and subpoenas. 

Job Outlook predicts that demand for workers in this field will remain strong with around 16,000 job openings expected over the next five years. If you're professional, courteous and responsible, then a career in the courts could be for you.

Work in customs and border protection

Customs and border force officers work in airports, sea ports, and mail and cargo centres, checking people and goods entering the country for illegal and prohibited substances. According to Austrade, the number of international visitors to Australia is expected to increase by over 50 per cent to 15 million by 2026-27. As the amount of international visitors to Australia grows, so too does the need for qualified workers to control and regulate our borders.

A career with the Australian Border Force gives you the opportunity to work in a fast paced, dynamic environment. With one of the largest and most challenging borders in the world to protect, no two days on the job are the same. Having a job where you have a real purpose can be incredibly motivating. A career in border protection will allow you to give back to your country and protect its people on a daily basis. 

Study crime and justice

Get your career in crime and justice started sooner with a qualification from TAFE Queensland. Our Diploma of Crime and Justice Studies (10284NAT) has been designed in conjunction with industry practitioners from the Queensland Police Service, Department of Justice and Attorney General, Australian Federal Police, and the Office of Industrial Relations.

These industry partnerships mean you'll graduate with real job outcomes. According to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER), 96 per cent of graduates of this diploma continue into employment or further study. Make a difference in your community and unlock a career with strong job prospects with a qualification in crime and justice.