Study for and Take the Tests

Choosing a career in criminal justice is both rewarding and exciting, but it also can require selective physical skills such as firearm or explosive handling instructions, self-defense techniques or an education in local, state, and federal laws, or both. Each career path will require its own specialized and unique set of training requirements, certifications, and licenses that are necessary for enforcing the law in addition to a formal education that may culminate in a college-level Criminal Justice degree.

A college education with an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD is required for many of the federal agent positions including such organizations as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Secret Service, US Customs for Immigration, and the United States Marshals Service (USMS). Employment with private security companies, social work and local community enforcement agencies generally require a college diploma, where a Criminal Justice degree can satisfy this requirement.

With an academic background, not only do you expand your horizon in criminal justice, but it will more than likely advance your career through promotions and salary increases. Book knowledge combined with classroom study, along with exam taking, will introduce you to the past theories and present methodologies that are used each day in law enforcement.

Acute studying is also required for many of the specialized exams that must be taken. Prospective Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) agents are required to successfully pass several special examinations including the Treasury Enforcement Agent Examination (TEA), the ATF Special Agent Applicant Assessment Test, and the ATF Pre-employment Physical Task Test. Agents must successfully pass an oral and written exam before a select panel as well.

Police officers must study for specializing in particular law enforcement areas including chemical and microscopic forensic analysis, firearm training, handwriting, and fingerprinting identification. Their ability to understand, comprehend, and apply the local, state, and federal laws requires a sense of logical analysis and critical problem solving in dealing with law enforcement. Some jurisdictions may require a minimum number of college credits in criminal justice or a police-related science program.

Specialized criminal justice exams must be taken and passed for correction officers, parole officers, and court officers to name just a few. These exams include questions that measure an applicant’s proficiency and skills in a number of areas and topics including: legal, ethical, and professional responsibility; the criminal justice system and processes; case management, monitoring, and client supervision; criminal behavior; crisis intervention; prevention services; and legal documentation record keeping. Legal questions pertaining to how laws are enacted to protect the rights and properties of individuals, how the justice system impacts culture, understanding criminal behavior, and the roles of the different branches of the legal system are also areas covered by specialized criminal justice exams.

Preparing for a specific exam requires applying yourself. Knowing that you will have a career in criminal justice once the exam is passed, requires dedication and commitment.

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