As a criminal justice major, you might want to keep an eye on the federal government agencies that offer career paths in law enforcement.
What can you do with a degree in criminal justice?
Have you thought about becoming a G-Man – or a G-Woman?
Originally slang for all government agents, the term, "G-Men," is based on the myth that infamous gangster "Machine Gun" Kelly shouted,“Don’t shoot, G-Men,” when captured by FBI special agents in 1933.
Around that time, the FBI was bringing down other notorious gangsters such as “Public Enemy No. 1” John Dillinger and “Baby Face” Nelson, so the term quickly became part of popular culture.
James Cagney’s "G-Men" and other films, along with radio shows and comic books inspired children to pretend they were “junior” G-men and young people to careers of public service, working for federal agencies such as the FBI.
Despite current economic conditions, the federal government remains the nation’s largest employer. So while you’re working on your degree in criminal justice, you may want to explore some of the federal agencies in departments such as the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security.
While many positions are highly competitive, a career with the federal government offers the opportunity to do work that really matters and contributes to the safety and security of our country.
Here are a few of the federal agencies that offer exciting and unique criminal justice careers.
Department of Justice
Bonnie and Clyde. John Gotti. The Unabomber. Enron. And the largest investigation ever, 9/11, code-named “PENTTBOM.” The FBI has worked the most significant cases in American history. Special agents investigate terrorist threats, spies, hackers, pedophiles, mobsters, gang leaders, and serial killers. They enforce more than 200 categories of federal law from white-collar and organized crime, to counterintelligence and cybercrime.
Created by the first U.S. Congress in 1789 to support federal courts and judges, the U.S. Marshals Service has come a long way since the days of Wyatt Earp and the Wild West. Today, deputy marshals transport and manage prisoners, protect witnesses, apprehend fugitives, and operate the Witness Security Program.
It was Special Agent in Charge Eliot Ness and his ATF agents known as the “Untouchables” who brought down Al Capone. Today, this agency continues to protect communities from violent criminals, illegal use of firearms and explosives, illegal diversion of alcohol and tobacco products, arson, bombings, and terrorism.
The DEA is the top drug enforcement organization in the world. Its special agents and investigators work internationally to bring down drug trafficking organizations and violent criminals and to fight the diversion of legal drugs.
Department of Homeland Security
The government’s largest law enforcement workforce, the CBP’s top priority is securing America’s borders, while protecting legitimate travel and trade. Border patrol agents and CBP officers prevent dangerous people, weapons and narcotics from illegal entry and screen passengers and cargo at over 300 ports of entry.
The second largest investigative agency in the federal government, ICE enforces the nation’s immigration and customs laws. Special agents investigate immigration crime, human rights violations, human smuggling, smuggling of narcotics, weapons and other contraband, financial crimes, and cybercrime.
Established in 1865 to crack down on the counterfeiting of U.S. currency, the Secret Service has a dual mission. The agency safeguards the nation’s financial infrastructure, as well as protects national leaders, visiting heads of state, and government designated sites and national special security events.
One of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Coast Guard has protected the nation’s waterways and maritime interests around the world since 1790. Last year, the Coast Guard saved more than 3,800 lives, removed over 166,000 pounds of cocaine bound towards the United States, and screened over 472,000 vessels and 28.7 million crewmembers and passengers prior to arrival in U.S. ports.
FEMA helps individuals and communities recover from both natural and man-made emergencies and disasters by coordinating emergency housing and financial assistance. FEMA search and rescue teams help locate victims immediately following a disaster, and the agency also supports on-site disaster recovery activities by providing services such as mobile telecommunications and power generation teams.
TSA workers screen 2 million travelers a day at airports a day. Armed air marshals deployed on passenger flights worldwide help keep the flying public safe. Security officers safeguard transportation systems by inspecting airports, seaports, railroads, highways, and public transit, checking for explosives and suspicious activity.
This government agency oversees all lawful immigration to the United States, ensuring the promise of freedom, liberty, and opportunity for qualified immigrants amidst increased global threats. Employees grant citizenship and help immigrants integrate into American culture as law-abiding citizens, while protecting our shores.
Additional Helpful Links
- Federal government’s site for all job and employment information: usajobs.gov
- Listings of all government departments and agencies: usa.gov/Agencies.shtml
- Careers with the U.S. Capitol Police: uscapitolpolice.gov/home.php
- Department of Justice careers: justice.gov/careers/careers.html
- Department of Homeland Security careers: dhs.gov/careers
- Office of Personnel Management: opm.gov
- Federal employment information for veterans: fedshirevets.gov/
- FBI careers: fbijobs.gov/index.asp
- U.S. Marshals Service careers: usmarshals.gov/careers/index.html
- ATF careers: atf.gov/careers/
- DEA careers: justice.gov/dea/careers/occupations.shtml
- Customs & Border Protection careers: cbp.gov/xp/cgov/careers/
- ICE careers: ice.gov/careers/index.htm
- Secret Service careers:secretservice.gov/join/careers.shtml
- Coast Guard careers: uscg.mil/top/careers.asp
- FEMA careers: fema.gov/careers
- TSA careers: tsa.gov/careers
- USCIS careers: uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=710b2423fdba3210VgnVCM100000b92ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=710b2423fdba3210VgnVCM100000b92ca60aRCRD
Do you have any advice to share about obtaining a law enforcement position with the federal government?
Image Credit: sphilp on Flickr/Creative Commons
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