Those who are considering attending criminal justice schools should possess certain qualities, including a strong ethical sensibility, an interest in promoting justice, the ability to be highly observant, knowledge of the law and legal system, leadership skills, communication skills, the ability to think quickly, and the ability to handle stress. A professional in the criminal justice field must obviously possess a strong ethical sensibility, since he or she works to promote adherence to laws and to prevent law-breaking, as well as determining consequences for those who do not follow the law. An interest in promoting justice is also desirable in someone who works in the criminal justice system. As a person who upholds and enforces the tenets of the criminal justice system, a criminal justice professional must respect and believe in that system.
Someone who works in the criminal justice profession must also be highly observant, able to notice changes in people that many others would not notice. He or she must be able to determine whether a behavior is suspicious, whether an environment is safe, and whether a certain course of action is acceptable. In addition, a criminal justice professional must possess knowledge of the legal system and a familiarity with legal issues in order to be able to enforce the laws. Leadership skills are also desirable in a criminal justice professional, as these professionals regularly make decisions regarding others. A criminal justice professional should inspire confidence in the community, where he or she plays a central role.
Communication skills are paramount to success in the criminal justice field. Professionals in this field should possess excellent communication skills because they must be able to give suggestions to employees, give orders to people over whom they have authority, and explain clearly to the community what legal issues are involved. They must be able to speak effectively and with confidence and authority. In addition, a professional in the criminal justice field must be able to write clearly and effectively. He or she will be writing anything from press releases to parole orders and therefore must be comfortable with a wide variety of writing styles and requirements.
The ability to think quickly is helpful in almost all professions; however, it is of the utmost importance in the criminal justice field. Employees will be working in institutions where decisions must be made quickly. In order to act in an effective manner, a professional must possess the ability to assess a situation and make a decision about the next recommended course of action. Often it is in the interest of public safety that this decision be made as quickly as possible.
Finally, although most careers include some level of stress, a career in the field of criminal justice may be considered more stressful than many other careers. In a career that deals with public safety, law enforcement, crime and punishment, and legal maneuvers, stress is inescapable. A professional working in the field of criminal justice absolutely must be able to deal with the personal stress of the job in a healthy manner while performing his or her duties effectively and safely.