Cool Careers: Criminal Justice and Private Investigations

This past summer, the Career Center hosted a seminar on Careers in Criminal Justice and Private Investigations, featuring two guest speakers. The first speaker was Professor Dan Cain of the Criminal Justice Department of Bossier Parish Community College. The second presenter was Chris McCullough, a Special Investigator for the FBI.

Why Choose Criminal Justice?

Many people enter into a Criminal Justice Career to help others. You can use your skills to aid victims of crime, perform counter-terrorism and surveillance, counsel and rehabilitate criminals, or oversee the progress of a parolee. It’s worth noting that, although most people equate “criminal justice” with “police officer,” there are many more options in this field.

What Careers are there in Criminal Justice?

  • National Security Agency Police Officer:  keep NSA facilities safe and secure. Requires at minimum an associate’s degree; however, pay may be more with a bachelor’s in criminal justice. The average salary for this career is $50,283.
  • Fraud Analyst: follow a trail of clues back to the individuals who steal money or identities from banking customers. Typically requires a bachelor degrees in computer science, finance, banking or a related field. Expect to make an average salary of $46,344.
  • Ranger: Do you love the great outdoors? Do you love National Parks or Wild Life Preserves? Then you can make a career enforcing the law in these places as a ranger. Rangers are the first responders to natural or manmade threats to forest areas and rangelands. They help combat forest fires, respond to criminal activities, and perform search and rescue missions. To become a forest ranger, you must be able to possess a bachelor’s degree or higher in environmental or life sciences. You can expect to earn an average of $57,000.
  • Federal Air Marshal: in a post-9/11 world this career has become much more important to providing the safety of air travel. A federal air marshal is the first line of defense in a threat in the sky. A Marshal must be armed at all times and will be able to recognize suspicious behavior while at the same time blending in with other passengers. A master’s degree in criminal justice, police science, aviation management, or similar specialties may improve their chances of obtaining a job as a federal air marshal. Expect to earn an average of $47,000.
  • Private Investigator: get information for individuals, law offices, and corporations. Private investigators often have histories of police service and are required to have licenses to function legally. A private investigator creates a business and keeps track of expenses as well as organizes information gathered for clients. To become a private investigator, there is no formal education process, but there are some agencies that require a Certificate in the field. It wouldn’t hurt to have a degree in criminal justice. Expect to make $45,000 in this field.
  • Transit Office: make sure subways, busses, and public trains are safe. Transit and railroad police may receive training in emergency preparedness. These individuals must be comfortable working in large groups where accidents and disasters are ever present. The minimal level of education often accepted by most police departments is a high school diploma or a G.E.D certification. However, many departments around the country require at least a couple of years of college coursework, such as an associate’s degree in criminal justice. Expect to earn around $52,000.

Final Thought

Criminal Justice can be a lucrative and rewarding field. One must remember that you don’t have to be a police officer to serve the public. Every career in the criminal justice field is essential. You can find more information on Criminal Justice education programs in Baton Rouge at the BRCC Criminal Justice website.

Written by Alvin Coleman

New Career Center Books

Happy New Year! As we begin a new year many people make resolutions to do something new and different. Such as perhaps starting a new business. This year the Career Center offered a seminar on how to buy or expand into a franchise as well as a series of seminars on how to start a non-profit. We have witnessed a great deal of interest in how to start a non-profit or a business. The Career Center has a whole section of books on how to start your own business, including a few new titles.

Start Your Own Business, 7th edition
by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media

If you see yourself as an entrepreneur or aspire to become one this book is for you. It is designed as a “road map to help you plan a course for your own journey to business ownership”. The team at Entrepreneur provide more than 700 pages of information and lessons to help you make your business dream a reality. It begins with a forward by Jason Feifer that encourages the reader with a revised understanding of what is means to succeed as an entrepreneur. The forty-one chapters are divided into eight parts that cover how to Think, Plan, Fund, Prepare, Buy, Market, Engage, and Profit.

HBR Guide to Buying a Small Business
by Richard Ruback and Royce Yudkoff

Would you like to be your own boss, fashion a company environment that meets your own needs, and profit directly from your success? Roback and Yudkoff offer an alternative to a career path at a big firm or the risk of founding your own start-up. In this book they take a big idea from their popular courses at the Harvard Business School and for the first time share it. That you can buy an existing business right now and run it as a CEO. Twenty-one chapters are divided into five parts: Think Big, Buy Small; Preparing Your Search; Finding the Right Small Business to Buy; Making an Offer; and Completing the Acquisition.

Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World
by Rand Fishkin

No one should found a startup alone. Fishkin, founder of Moz (a software provider that creates products for professionals to help client with search engine optimization), shares from his own experience so the reader can avoid the mistakes he made. In addition to covering the difficult realities of founding a startup, Fishkin provides tactical tips and tricks (what he calls the “startup cheat code”). Chapters cover such topics as Great Founders Don’t Do What They Love; They Enable a Vision, Don’t Raise Money for the Wrong Reasons or from the Wrong People, Founding a Top 5 Percent Startup May Not Make You Rich, Living the Lives of Your Customers and Their Influencers is a Startup Cheat Code, and Self-Awareness is a Superpower.

Be Your Best Boss: Reinvent Yourself from Employee to Entrepreneur
by William Seagraves

Becoming an entrepreneur midcareer can be confusing. Perhaps you feel stuck at work, are recently unemployed, or are hanging on to your job. And you want to do something more, something better, something new and different. Seagraves, president and founder of Catchfire Funding, draws on the stories of new and once-reluctant entrepreneurs and offers advice to those wanting to begin a second act in their careers. He breaks down the process of becoming an entrepreneur, explaining how to evaluate yourself and your business opportunity.  Chapters cover whether you are entrepreneurially ready, how to be a company of one and a business of many, how to buy a franchise or existing business, how to navigate the first six months to beyond the first two years, when and how to exit, and how to use your 401(k) (without penalty) to fund your new business.

Written by Richard Wright

Cool Careers: Working with Animals

This past summer, the Career Center hosted a seminar on careers in animal science. The presenter of this seminar was Jennifer Godfrey from the LSU School of Veterinary Science. In case you missed it, here are some of the main takeaways:

What Type of Jobs are there?

Veterinarian: provide medical treatment to animals as large as an elephant or as small as a snake. Requires a four-year veterinary medical degree in addition to a bachelor’s degree. Getting into veterinary school is fiercely competitive – LSU’s Vet school is one of only 30 schools in the United States with this program. One must have a very strong math and science background and strive for the highest grades possible to be considered for admission. It is best to have at least have a 3.5 GPA.  Once you finish vet school, you can expect to earn starting off at $80,000 a year. You can find out more information at the LSU vet school website.

Veterinarian Tech/ Assistant:  help veterinarians provide medical and health care for animals. This is a great alternative for people who want to work in this field without dealing with the cost and amount of education that a Veterinarian would require. You would need to pass the Veterinary Technician National Exam to become licensed as a vet tech.  Although technically only a high school education is required, most vet techs go through  certificate or associate degree programs that prepare them for the licensing exam. BRCC offers an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology, based on the requirements of the American Veterinary Medical Association. You can find out more information here at the BRCC vet tech website.

Animal Groomer: help pets look their best by cleaning them and trimming fur. You must have at least a high school diploma. Most training takes place on the job, but some choose to study at a grooming school. The median salary is around $21,260 annually, while those who make the highest salary earn more than $34,000 a year.

Kennel Attendant, Pet Sitter, and Dog Walkers: care for pets in the absent of their owners. Usually requires a minimum of a high school diploma. You can learn additional skills while on the job. Those who work in kennels or shelters can learn more about the job by taking classes through the Humane Society of the United States and the American Humane Association. Pet sitters can obtain additional education through the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.

Final Thought

If you are a person who loves animals and providing them care, there are many opportunities to make a living from it. Being a veterinarian isn’t the only way to work with animals. You should always research and see what you feel what would be best for you. As a start, it would be an excellent idea to volunteer at a shelter or even work at a pet store like Petsmart or Petco. The opportunities are out there waiting to be discovered and experienced.

Written by Alvin Coleman

Cool Careers: Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigation

This past summer, the Career Center hosted a seminar on Careers in Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigation. There were two guest speakers. The first representative was Claire Shepard with LA Delta Community College, and the second was Zachary Shawn with the Louisiana State police. For those who missed it, here are the main takeaways:

what is it really like?

Most people think of the TV show “CSI” when they think of the field of forensics – but the show is not entirely realistic. In the real world, it may take months if not years to solve a case. Nevertheless, it is still an interesting field for anyone who is interested in taking a more scientific approach to Criminal Justice. There are a plethora of jobs in this field, both in the lab and out in the field. The pay in most of these careers usually range from $39,000 to around $60,000. The more advanced fields that require a doctorate degree can pay much more.

Laboratory careers

  • DNA forensic analyst: compare DNA samples taken from suspects and victims to determine whether someone was at a crime scene. Requires a degree in chemistry or biology.
  • Toxicologist: help investigators identify the causes of death that include poisons or chemicals. Also assist in the prosecution of DUI and DWI arrests and can detect the presence of drugs or alcohol in a suspect or victim’s blood. Requires a degree in chemistry, biology, or both.
  • Forensic pathologist: Also known as a medical examiner. Conduct autopsies to determine whether a case was homicide, learn the type of weapons used, and approximate a time of death. This is a position for licensed doctors and thus requires an MD.

Field Careers:

  • Bloodstain Pattern Analyst: analyze patterns of blood at the scene of a crime. This can help determine the type of weapon used, whether a struggle occurred, the direction of travel of a victim or suspect, etc.. Requires a bachelor’s degree in natural science or biology.
  • Forensic Ballistics Expert: analyze firearm patterns and residue at a crime scene. This can help with tracing a bullet back to a gun, identifying the type of firearm used, etc..
  • Arson Investigators: Use residue, ash, and other substances left after a fire to discover if a fire was intentional arson or the result of an accident. The education required for a career as an arson investigator is on par with that of police officers. While a bachelor’s degree is not required, a degree in a forensic-science-related field would increase your chances.

Final thought

If you’d enjoy using your analytical and problem-solving skills to provide justice, then this is the field for you. You just have to be sure that you are not too sensitive to violent scenes or dealing with bodily fluids. More information can be found on the Delta Community College website.

Written by Alvin Coleman

Cool Careers in Film, Entertainment, and Digital Media

The Career Center recently hosted a seminar on careers in the Louisiana Film, Entertainment, and Digital Media Industries. The presenting guest was Chris Stelly, Executive Group Director, Entertainment & Digital Media for Louisiana. Here are some of the main takeaways, in case you missed it:

Film

Most people think that “film career” is synonymous with “acting career”. However, there are a wide variety of film careers besides acting, including:

  • Photography: encompasses everything from the actual filming of a production to taking stills for promotion.
  • Digital design: working with computers to change what we see on the screen. A good example of this is in the Louisiana-filmed movie “Ray” starring Jamie Foxx, in which the ground was digitally changed to another color to reflect the look of that area.
  • Sound mixing: technicians can make a movie far more exciting or dramatic by use of sounds ranging from a simple pin drop to a loud explosion.
  • Costume/production design: an excellent choice for people who are artistic and creative and contribute to everything from furniture to costumes.
  • Hair and Make-up:  a hair and make-up artist can provide a look or style, but could also provide a special effect such as an alien, or make actors look period-appropriate for films set in other centuries.
  • Location scouting: many “scouters” go out in search of landscapes and locations to mimic other ones in order to bring a realistic experience on film. One example given was that a movie was filmed in Hammond, LA yet it was made to look as if you were in the Bronx, NY.

How to break into the industry: To get into this industry it would be a great idea to start off with small and local productions. The more experience you get, the more credible you are. For the technical side of the industry, there are many courses at local Universities and Community Colleges which you could take to improve upon and further advance in your field.

Entertainment and Music:

Louisiana has a rich and unique musical history. There are many ways a person can be involved in this industry. A few examples are:

  • Producing music for artists
  • Recording, editing, and/or mixing music
  • Performing music as a vocalist or instrumentalist
  • Promoting artists

How to break into the industry: There is no set course for breaking into the music industry – for the most part, it’s not about which classes you take in school. Instead, focus on finding and creating opportunities for yourself. Learn by doing – volunteer your time and skills for local projects. Search for internships in your field. Networking will be a huge part of your strategy – reaching out and forming connections and relationships with people in the industry.

Digital Media/Videogames:

Digital media is a rapidly growing field in Louisiana. The main field that was mentioned during this seminar was the videogame industry – everything from mobile games to console games. A video game production can be just as large as a movie. There are many different positions which are all essential to videogame production. A few examples are:

  • Art design for the general art and look of a game.
  • Sound design for effects.
  • Computer programming for the operation of the game.
  • Voice acting
  • Writing for the story and tone of the game
  • Game testing for errors or bugs
  • Legal and licensing division to ensure that everything in a game is in copyrighted and licensing standards

How to break into the industry: You must have the technology skills to get into this field. Many of the skills can be learned at two-year colleges. For the other aspects such as the legal division, you would need a legal background and education. Video game testing in this field usually requires a high school education and a keen eye to spotting errors and following instructions. In fact, Baton Rouge has a video game testing center for Electronic Arts (EA) on LSU’s campus.

Final Thought

Since the creation of the pioneering motion picture incentive program in 2002, Louisiana has created many opportunities. More information can be found on the Louisiana Economic Development website and the Film Baton Rouge website.

Written by Alvin Coleman