Following is a list of positions for which federal, state, and local agencies hire people with criminal justice backgrounds. If you’re looking for actual job postings to which you may apply, visit the resources page for more information on individual organizations. This page merely offers descriptions of jobs for which a CJ degree would prepare you.
Court reporters typically create verbatim transcripts of speeches, conversations, legal proceedings, meetings, and other events when written accounts of spoken words are necessary for correspondence, records, or legal proof. Court reporters play a critical role not only in judicial proceedings, but also at every meeting where the spoken word must be preserved as a written transcript. They are responsible for ensuring a complete, accurate, and secure legal record. In addition to preparing and protecting the legal record, many court reporters assist judges and trial attorneys in a variety of ways, such as organizing and searching for information in the official record or making suggestions to judges and attorneys regarding courtroom administration and procedure.
Increasingly, court reporters are providing closed-captioning and real-time translating services to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
The amount of training required to become a court reporter varies with the type of reporting chosen. It usually takes less than a year to become a voice writer, while electronic reporters and transcribers learn their skills on the job. In contrast, the average length of time it takes to become a stenotypist is 33 months. Training is offered by about 160 postsecondary vocational and technical schools and colleges. The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) has approved about 70 programs, all of which offer courses in stenotype computer-aided transcription and real-time reporting. NCRA-approved programs require students to capture a minimum of 225 words per minute, a requirement for Federal Government employment as well.
Some States require court reporters to be notary publics. Others require the Certified Court Reporter (CCR) designation, for which a reporter must pass a State test administered by a board of examiners. The NCRA confers the entry-level designation Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) upon those who pass a four-part examination and participate in mandatory continuing education programs. Although voluntary, the designation is recognized as a mark of distinction in the field.
A reporter may obtain additional certifications that demonstrate higher levels of competency, such as Registered Merit Reporter (RMR) or Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR). The RDR is the highest level of certification available to court reporters. To earn it, a court reporter must either have 5 consecutive years of experience as an RMR or be an RMR and hold a 4-year bachelor’s degree.
Judges, magistrates, and other judicial workers apply the law and oversee the legal process in courts according to local, State, and Federal statutes. They preside over cases concerning every aspect of society, from traffic offenses to disputes over the management of professional sports to issues concerning the rights of huge corporations. All judicial workers must ensure that trials and hearings are conducted fairly and that the court safeguards the legal rights of all parties involved.
The most visible responsibility of judges is presiding over trials or hearings and listening as attorneys represent the parties present. Judges rule on the admissibility of evidence and the methods of conducting testimony, and they may be called on to settle disputes between opposing attorneys. Also, they ensure that rules and procedures are followed, and, if unusual circumstances arise for which standard procedures have not been established, judges interpret the law to determine the manner in which the trial will proceed.
A bachelor’s degree and work experience usually constitute the minimum requirements for a judgeship or magistrate position. A number of lawyers become judges, and most judges have first been lawyers. In fact, Federal and State judges usually are required to be lawyers. About 40 States allow non-lawyers to hold limited- jurisdiction judgeships, but opportunities are better for those with law experience. Federal administrative law judges must be lawyers and pass a competitive examination administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Some State administrative law judges and other hearing officials are not required to be lawyers.
Pre-Trial Services Officer
The pre-trial services officer investigates the backgrounds of persons who come before the court for arraignment and sentencing. They prepare reports that the court relies on to make release and sentencing decisions. They supervise individuals the court releases to the community on pretrial supervision, probation, parole, or supervised release, and they reduce the risks these persons may post to the public. They also provide persons under supervision with, or direct them to, services ordered by the court, such as substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, medical care, training, or employment assistance. They work with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and interact with judges, U.S. attorneys, and defense attorneys.
- Bachelor’s degree
- Be younger than age 37 at the time of appointment
- Undergo physical examination as a condition of employment and may be subject to subsequent fitness-for-duty evaluations
- Undergo a background investigation and periodic re-investigations
Visit our resources page for links to local, state, and federal agencies and job postings.