In the city of big shoulders and its environs, finding a job in the criminal justice industry can be a varied experience. From police officers to lawyers specializing in criminal law, the field offers numerous opportunities for those pursuing a career in the Chicagoland area. The criminal justice field is also on the rise, with certain segments projected to see above-average gains in demand for workers by 2020.

Nationwide, certain segments of the criminal justice industry are projected to grow over the next seven years. Statewide, the Illinois Department of Employment Security projects law enforcement jobs will grow about 3.4 percent by 2020, including jobs for bailiffs, correctional officers, detectives and police officers.

What kinds of jobs can you find in the criminal justice field in Chicago? Job seekers can seize opportunity in the professions of lawyers, law clerks, judges, detectives, bailiffs, police officers, detectives, probation officers and sheriffs.

For individuals interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice, the type of education and training needed is dependent upon the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor’s degree is typically required for probation officers, police officers and detectives, while a high school diploma is required to be a correctional officer. For some jobs in criminal justice, military experience may be substituted. Job seekers pursuing a career in criminal law will need a bachelor’s degree and a law degree, as well as pass the bar.

Other requirements for applying for a job in the criminal justice field may include passing a drug test, having a background check and presenting proof of a clean driving record as well as a record free of felonies. For police officers, an additional requirement may include being at least 21 years of age and passing a physical fitness test. Certain departments may have additional requirements; if you want to apply for a job with the Chicago Police Department, you need to present proof of residency in Chicago at the time of employment and take a written examination. The requirements may differ among departments.

Training for jobs in the criminal justice field is varied as well. Police officers typically need to complete training through a police academy, while probation officers may need to undergo specific training and specialize in a certain type of casework. Criminal law attorneys need to stay current and take continuing education courses.

Job seekers who would like to pursue a career as a police officer may want to consider applying for the Chicago Police Department. According to the City of Chicago’s budget for 2013, Chicago will provide funding for regularly scheduled recruitment classes at the police academy to address attrition. In a Huffington Post press release, the City of Chicago stated there were more than 450 recruits in the police academy by the end of 2012, with additional quarterly classes scheduled for 2013. Demand for police officers may see further growth in Chicago, as some aldermen are pushing for the city to hire an additional 500 police officers by the end of 2013.

For those who already have police training, such as Chicagoans who are retired from the police force, working part time for a suburban police department may be a way to find a job in the criminal justice field. Part-time officers are used by some police departments as a way to help fill in gaps in the schedule and keep costs down for the department. Other avenues to explore include applying for police officer jobs in suburbs and on college campuses.

The Chicago division of the Federal Bureau of Investigations is also hiring. From secretary positions to staff operation specialists, the FBI offers opportunities with noted career paths for recruits. For certain jobs, applicants may need to currently be employed by the FBI.

Megan Horst-Hatch is a mother, runner, baker, gardener, knitter, and other words that end in “-er.” She loves nothing more than a great cupcake, and writes at I’m a Trader Joe’s Fan. Her work can be found at