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Herzing Staff

What TV Gets Wrong About Criminal Justice

Through a Criminal Justice degree, you have access to a wide variety of careers to choose from, careers beyond the never-wrong detective who solves a case in 60 minutes or less.

Picture this: the tires of an undercover cop car squealing as it peels around a corner, launching 20 feet in the air, over an explosion, during a pursuit. While we see it all the time during crime shows, the reality — while exhilarating — is far from what most criminal justice careers look like.

When we tune into our favorite crime shows, we often see the detectives as the lead of each investigation, pulling back the yellow caution tape when they step onto a scene. The media sometimes shows other law enforcement involved, but it often incorrectly paints a picture of detectives with all-knowing computers and immediate arrests. But that's usually wrong. 

Instead, through a Criminal Justice degree and education from Herzing University, you have access to a wide variety of careers to choose from, careers beyond the never-wrong detective who solves a case in 60 minutes or less. Check out five compelling careers that your favorite shows aren’t accurately portraying:

  • Bailiff: The emotion in a courtroom can often turn heated, and it’s a bailiff’s responsibility to maintain order in the court so that proper procedures are followed. While movies and shows may skip past the work done by bailiffs, they’re essential to the court system. To qualify for higher-level bailiff positions—including within federal agencies—you can further your education at Herzing with our associate degree in criminal justice, which prepares you to handle court documents, enforce courtroom rules, follow court procedures and escort people from judges and jurors to witnesses and prisoners. 
  • Private Security: If you are passionate about protecting others and want to work where people and property need protection, private security might be for you. While some shows have poked fun at the position, private security helps enforce regulations and monitor surveillance systems, controls building access and conducts security checks—keeping everyday citizens safe in any environment. Often employed by investigation or guard services and within healthcare and education fields, you can become highly qualified for this position with the right degree pathway in front of you.
  • Crime Scene Investigator (CSI): On television, the crime scene is often already marked up and the evidence is logged as the detectives arrive to solve the case. While the detectives’ work matters, crime scene investigators (CSI) are crucial in the field as they collect, analyze, record observations and more at the scene of a crime to help the detectives put the puzzle together. Most CSI positions require either an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, forensic science or criminal justice. A criminal justice background from Herzing would prepare you for thorough crime scene investigation training, such as laboratory analytics, evidence forensics and criminalistics. 
  • First-Line Supervisor: Rarely mentioned on TV, first-line supervisors play a critical role in managing the lives of those with careers such as detectives, firefighters, and game wardens. By providing staff support and efficiently completing administrative tasks, first-line supervisors help maintain the order of day-to-day responsibilities for protective service workers. To get a deeper understanding of the needs for this role, earning an associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration in management and leadership will not only set you up for success but help grow the careers of others. 
  • Corrections Officer: While we always see detectives catch a criminal, corrections officers handle the individuals once they receive their sentencing. Corrections officers are responsible for monitoring prisoner behavior, guarding the facility, settling disputes, processing-related responsibilities and more. Jobs in the correctional industry are available at the local, state, and federal levels. Entry-level jobs typically require a high-school degree, but with an associate's or bachelor's degree, more promotional opportunities and additional career pathways are available. By obtaining a degree in criminal justice from Herzing, you can be better prepared to navigate your responsibilities.

Beyond the variety of career options, you have with an associate or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Herzing, the knowledge you gain can set you on the path to additional degrees, such as a graduate or doctorate, plus extensive real-world experience. You can even turn your time at Herzing into acceptance at the law school of your choice — further preparing you for a career just as exciting and fulfilling as any seen on TV.

Want to learn more about the plentiful career possibilities that come with a degree in criminal justice from Herzing? Learn more here.

Learn More About Our Criminal Justice Program


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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