Criminal justice is sometimes thought of as a field that only caters towards a career in law enforcement. However, Eric R. Thompson, associate professor at College of DuPage, is a great example of how to use this degree to achieve career success in the classroom rather than the courtroom.

(Photo Courtesy of Eric R. Thompson)

(Photo Courtesy of Eric R. Thompson)

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What inspired you to enter this field?
“In college, I realized that criminal justice was more about people than enforcement. What I saw reflected in public service was an opportunity to advance my own ideas about personal responsibility, family and community.”

How does your education relate to your current position?
“I earned by Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice. Subsequent to graduation, I was awarded and accepted Lincoln and Diversity Fellowships at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Criminology, Law and Justice. I secured various teaching positions throughout the Chicagoland area, and quickly discovered that my true passion was in the classroom, not in the federal court system. I was an adjunct faculty member for three years at College of DuPage before becoming a full-time faculty member in 2009.”

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How has your education helped you achieve overall success in your field?
“My ability to secure various positions within and outside of the criminal justice system and ultimately within higher education are all attributed to my schooling. Education has provided me with those skills necessary to process information, critically think and ask relevant questions. To date, my research focuses on intellectual property theft and the identification of variables that help explain the direct and/or indirect effects of technology on crime and deviance; the regulation of content and behavior in cyberspace; and how, over the past decade, computerization has changed the nature of the criminal justice profession.”

What advice can you offer others looking to go into this field?
“Policing in the 21st century requires modern education and training. For example, federal agencies require a minimum four-year degree and even advanced degrees in a host of areas, outside of the liberal arts curriculum. Identify your strongest skills and capitalize on those through advanced education.”

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Sara Lugardo is a professional writer out of Chicago, Illinois. She has a Bachelor’s in Communication and is currently working on her Master’s. Her work can be found on