Career Profile: Criminal Justice
If you have good critical thinking skills, a gift for understanding others, and a desire to serve your community, a career in Criminal Justice may be a good fit for you, and Piedmont Technical College is a great place to start.
PTC’s Criminal Justice associate degree program is designed to prepare professionally-educated and competent criminal justice practitioners for careers within the criminal justice system.
The program covers a broad spectrum of criminal justice concepts and theories, including criminology, ethics, law, evidence and procedure, corrections, juveniles, as well as general education courses.
“Our program is designed to produce well-rounded criminal justice professionals, and a solid foundation for a career in the field,” said Josh Lindsay, PTC’s Criminal Justice program director.
A Solid Foundation and Practical Experience
The curriculum is designed from the ground up to offer students a wealth of practical experience.
With this goal in mind, the program has recently incorporated virtual firearms training and driving simulation into the curriculum.
The firearms training system offers PTC faculty a high impact way to provide training opportunities that would be difficult or impossible to replicate in the real world, such as repetitive training in a controlled environment with instant feedback, after action review, force-on-force training and a divers set of training environments.
“We’re one of the only schools in the state with this technology,” said Lindsay. “We actually have law enforcement agencies from all over the region calling to ask if they can make use of our equipment.
Internships and Professional Networking
Near the end of the degree program, students complete a 90 hour criminal justice internship, which is designed to give students practical application exposure and an opportunity to interact with criminal justice professionals.
This internship allows students to directly observe and experience connections between criminal justice theory and practice.
Lindsay said, “We try to place students where they want to go. We have good connections with agencies all over the region, so we have good success putting students in an internship that matches their interest.”
We try to make the curriculum as hands-on as we can, because most of the time, students really grasp the concepts when they put them into practice.
This internships help students get a better understanding of the career path they’ve chosen and to narrow down the kinds of employment they’ll be seeking after graduation.
Students in the Criminal Justice program also have the chance to participate in the American Criminal Justice Association, which offers an opportunity to meet professionals currently working in the field and meet students from college and universities all over the region.
Students attend the regional conference each year, where they can attend workshops on topics like Homicide Investigation, CSI and more.
They also get the chance to test their skills against their peers in academics, physical agility and other areas.
Last year PTC students won regional awards in crime scene investigation and firearms.
A Step Ahead
Lindsay said that the job market is very good right now for criminal justice practitioners.
“The S.C. Highway Patrol, for instance, is currently hiring for 65 positions, and local law enforcement agencies are frequently looking for qualified candidates,” he said.
According to Lindsay, there are three main career paths students can take: Law Enforcement, Judicial and Corrections.
For those headed toward law enforcement, PTC’s program offers a distinct advantage when they go to the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Much of the initial instruction at the Academy is covered in detail in PTC’s program, graduates are one step ahead of their peers.
And the program isn’t just for those who are just starting out.
Advancement in many agencies is tied to degree level in many cases, so there are many currently working police and corrections officers coming back to PTC for additional training so that they can advance in their careers.
“Ultimately, If your goal is to be a criminal justice practitioner, PTC will provide you with the knowledge you need to succeed,” said Lindsay.