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College Dorm to Jason Bourne: Your Guide to International Criminal Justice Jobs

You’ve seen all the Jason Bourne movies. You’ve participated in endless debates about who makes the best James Bond. And you’ve watched those Mission: Impossible movies over and over and you’re convinced you could run those ops better.

Maybe it’s time to put down the Blu Ray remote and figure out how earning a degree can put you on the path to those international criminal justice jobs. The fact is, those jobs are out there. Those agencies are hiring. And the people that do them are just like you – except they have a degree and, in some cases, a little experience.

The biggest thing about the people doing your dream job is that they had the courage – and the information – to be able to think big when it came to their job search. For whatever reason, their job search didn’t end at the local police department, state penitentiary or airport and they took the necessary steps to make themselves competitive.

In order to help you do the same, we’re featuring seven international criminal justice jobs – six of which offer internships for current college students.

Where to find those international criminal justice jobs

1. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

  • Pop culture reference: Operations officer Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt), Spy Game
  • Overseas operations: Worldwide
  • Student opportunities available: Yes

The Hollywood version of ‘CIA agents’ are actually the guys and gals who work for the National Clandestine Service (NST) within the Central Intelligence Agency. They’re referred to as ‘operations officers’ around the halls of the CIA and they represent the front lines of human intelligence collection.

Their official duties include: “Clandestinely spotting, assessing, developing, recruiting, and handling individuals with access to vital foreign intelligence on the full range of national security issues.” Put simply, these are the people dressing in disguises and switching back-and-forth through a bevy of foreign languages in an effort to find out secret intel.

The CIA offers two tracks for entry-level officers: 1) Professional trainees (PT) for those with a bachelor’s degree but little experience; and 2) Clandestine service trainees (CST) for those with a bachelor’s degree and several years of law enforcement or military experience.

2. U.S. Secret Service

A fact commonly overlooked outside law enforcement circles is that protection is only one of two main focuses of the U.S. Secret Service. The other is criminal investigations. Since 1901, the Secret Service has been in charge of protecting:

  • U.S. President, Vice President and former presidents (and their families)
  • Children of former presidents until age 16
  • Visiting foreign heads of state and their spouses
  • Official representatives of U.S. special missions abroad
  • Major presidential and vice presidential candidates

The criminal investigations piece of the agency's mandate is to ensure the safety and integrity of America’s financial infrastructure. Specifically, the Secret Service investigates financial institution fraud, access device fraud, computer crimes, fraudulent government and commercial securities, fictitious financial instruments, telecommunications fraud, false identification and identity theft.

3. Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS)

  • Pop culture reference: Special Agent Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), NCIS
  • Overseas locations of operation: 40 countries worldwide
  • Student opportunities available: Yes

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is the federal law enforcement agency charged with conducting investigations of felony-level offenses affecting the Navy and Marine Corps.

Despite first appearances, you do not need to have current or past military experience to work for NCIS. Of its 2,300 employees, 90 percent are civilians and – among its 1,100 special agents – around 98 percent are civilians.

The primary mandate of NCIS is to perform investigations and operations aimed at identifying and neutralizing foreign intelligence, international terrorism, and cyber threats to the Department of the Navy. In addition, it provides warning of threats and specialized defensive force protection support to U.S. naval forces around the world.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command are similar divisions within other branches of U.S. military.

4. Interpol

With 190 member countries, Interpol is the world’s largest international police organization. Its primary function is to provide a central hub for the world’s police departments to communicate and coordinate criminal investigations across borders.

Interpol’s primary strategic responsibilities include:

  • Secure global communications: To connect all 190 member countries, allowing them to instantly access, request and submit crime-related data.
  • 24/7 Support: To provide operational assistance to member countries, including emergency and crisis response.
  • Capacity building: To enhance the tools, services and training provided to member nations.
  • Identification of crimes and criminals: To provide the world’s highest quality databases and analytical capabilities.

Interpol currently has around 650 full-time staff from 89 different countries. Those looking to join Interpol can do so in one of two ways: 1) Current law enforcement personnel can be nominated or appointed (referred to as “seconded” or “detached” in Interpol-speak) by their national police force; or 2) Civil servants can be hired under contract directly by the organization.

Every member nation has a regional bureau or liaison office and the organization recognizes four official languages – Arabic, English, French and Spanish. If you’re looking to someday work for Interpol, proficiency in two or more official languages is a great place to start.

5. United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC)

UNODC was established in 1997 to help member nations combat illicit drugs, crime and terrorism through a global network of field offices. It boasts a staff of 1,500 employees at its Vienna headquarters and field offices across the globe.

The three pillars of the UNODC mission include:

  • Field-based technical cooperation projects to enhance the capacity of member states to counteract illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.
  • Research and analytical work to increase knowledge and understanding of drugs and crime issues and expand the evidence base for policy and operational decisions.
  • Normative work to help member states ratify and implement the relevant international treaties and legislation to effectively combat illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.

UNODC assigns its employees to monitor drug abuse and trafficking trends, help member states achieve substantial reductions in drug supply and demand and assist countries in forging new partnerships for tackling important issues such as money-laundering, smuggling of migrants and human trafficking.

6. Bureau of Diplomatic Security

  • Pop culture reference: Special agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), Fast Five
  • Overseas locations of operation: 159 countries worldwide
  • Student opportunities available: No

The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) is the security and law enforcement arm of the U.S. State Department. In the United States, DS protects the Secretary of State, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and cabinet-level foreign dignitaries who visit the United States.

DS assists foreign embassies and consulates in the United States with the security for their missions and personnel. It also conducts criminal investigations into passport and visa fraud violations, conducts personnel security investigations and issues security clearances.

Overseas, DS develops and implements effective security programs to safeguard all personnel who work in every U.S. diplomatic mission around the world. According to its website, DS is the only law enforcement agency with representation in nearly every country in the world.

7. Federal Bureau of Investigation (legal attachés)

Operating from offices in almost every U.S. embassy, FBI legal attachés – or “legats” in FBI-speak – work with the law enforcement and security agencies in their host country to coordinate investigations of interest to both countries.

Specifically, legal attachés exist to help the FBI’s primary mission to prevent terrorist attacks against citizens and interests of the United States. The role of legal attachés is primarily one of coordination, as they do not conduct foreign intelligence gathering or counterintelligence investigations.

Typical duties of a legal attaché include:

  • Coordinating requests for FBI or host country assistance overseas
  • Conducting investigations in coordination with the host government
  • Sharing investigative leads and information
  • Briefing embassy counterparts from other agencies, as appropriate
  • Managing country clearances
  • Providing situation reports concerning cultural protocol
  • Assessing political and security climates
  • Coordinating victim and humanitarian assistance

Legal attachés also assist foreign agencies with requests for investigative assistance in the U.S. to encourage reciprocal assistance in counterterrorism, criminal and other investigative matters.

So, there you have it ...

The international criminal justice jobs on this list might sound pretty amazing. On the other hand, they might sound a million miles away from where you are now. Either way, don’t let their official-sounding names scare you off. They’re all hiring, but they all require a bachelor’s degree to get in the door.

Once you begin the application process, you will likely notice that it’s a bit more stringent than their local or state counterparts. For the most part, to qualify for federal law enforcement you must: 1) Be a U.S. citizen between 21-37 years of age; 2) Be able to pass an extensive background check and polygraph; 3) Have vision correctable to 20/20; 4) Have a valid driver’s license; and 5) Be able to maintain a Top Secret security clearance.

So if you think you’ve got what it takes after reading all of this information, take a chance. Click on the names of these organizations and start browsing job titles. That way you’ve got an idea of what’s available to you once you start applying for jobs.

Jeff Roberts

Jeff is the Content Marketing Editor at Collegis Education. He oversees all of the blog and newsletter content for Rasmussen College. As a writer, he creates articles that educate, encourage and motivate current and future students.

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