The Top 10 Criminal Justice Jobs on TV that Would Require a Degree

Do you have a favorite television show that focuses on the criminal justice system? Of course, we all do and that is why there are so many of them on TV. These crime dramas take us through the lives of fictional characters working within the different realms of the justice system. However, did you know that the majority of the professions shown on TV would require extensive experience as well as college degree? Check out the top ten list below.

Criminal Justice Jobs on TV

TV Show: Alcatraz

Job Title: Warden
Character: Edwin James
Reaching the level of Warden would be a career highlight for anyone looking to work within the corrections field. Typical qualifications may include a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice or a related field, having a large number of years of corrections and leadership experience.

TV Show: Hawaii Five

Job Title: State Police Detective
Character: Danny Williams
Being a police detective is one of the most common characters played on TV. In order to work in this field, a candidate may typically be required to have earned an associate’s degree as well as having several years of policing experience.

TV Show: Criminal Minds

Job Title: Psychological Profiler
Character: Dr. Spencer Reid
Super geniuses like Spencer Reid are rare. Candidates may be expected to earn a Master’s degree or higher in psychology or forensics. Not to mention having multiple years of experience in the criminal justice field.

TV Show: CSI: Miami

Job Title: Lieutenant CSI Agent
Character: Horatio Caine
On CSI Miami, Horatio Caine displays a strong knowledge of multiple disciplines within the crime scene investigation field. To reach this position, you may expect to have earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a related field, have strong knowledge of the justice system, and multiple years of investigations experience.

TV Show: Blue Bloods

Job Title: Police Commissioner
Character: Frank Reagan
Police Commissioner is a job title that very few criminal justice professionals reach. Along with having a long and prestigious field career, you may expect a candidate to be required to have earned a Bachelor’s degree and have strong leadership skills.


Job Title: Forensic Scientist
Character: Abby Sciuto
While these positions are sometimes miss portrayed on TV, the vast majority of the work is done in a science lab where you could expect professionals to have earned at least a Bachelors degree or higher in forensic science, chemistry, or a related science field.

TV Show: NCIS: Los Angeles

Job Title: Special Agent
Character: Sam Hanna
While LL Cool J does make this character seem so realistic, a true professional who would be qualified for this position could have specialized government training, investigations experience, as well as possibly a degree within the criminal justice related fields.

TV Show: Rookie Blue

Job Title: Rookie Police Officer
Character: Andy McNally
Another common position that we see on TV is that of a police officer. Requirements for entering this career may include an associate’s degree or successful combination of an academy skills training in addition being able to pass a background check.

TV Show: The Closer

Job Title: Deputy Chief
Character: Brenda Johnson
Typically, Deputy Chiefs are not as active in the field as much as Kyra Sedgwich is in The Closer. Usually part of a more administrative role candidates may have earned a Master’s degree within a criminal justice related field to go along with their years of experience in policing and leadership.

TV Show: Prison Break

Job Title: Corrections Officer
Character: Brad Bellick
As a corrections officer, you may complete a variety of different takes within a jail or prison. This is a common entry level position for many criminal justice professionals. Employment requirements may vary but typically, the best qualified candidates have earned an associate’s degree and can pass a criminal background check.

All of these positions require multiple different skills beyond just a college degree including; people skills, being physically fit, quick thinking, and an interest in promoting justice. Just like the diversity of TV shows, a career in criminal justice has a large variety of different occupational opportunities. By earning your degree in justice studies you will be well on your way to working within the criminal justice system, compared to just watching it on TV.

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Grant Tilus

Grant works for Collegis education and writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. He aims to inspire, motivate and inform current and prospective students.

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