If you live in the state of South Dakota and are interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice, then you’ll be happy to know that there are lots of wonderful opportunities for qualified criminal justice professionals.

Those with criminal justice backgrounds can choose to work in a wide variety of different ways, but it’s much easier to find a job if you know what you want to do long before you start your education and thus can plan and structure your education according to the job that you wish to have.

If you’re not entirely sure, getting a general criminal justice degree is often the best option. Once you have it, the career possibilities are really endless. Here, we’ve detailed a few of the most common jobs taken on by people with criminal justice educations.

1. Court Reporting: Court reporting typically involves sitting in on courtroom proceedings and taking notes of everything that is said and that happens. These notes will later become official records, so they must be extremely precise and detailed.

Therefore, those who excel at this job are typically very organized, efficient, quick thinkers and typists, ethical, and professional. Best of all, you can easily become a court reporter with only a simple associate’s degree, which takes on average only about two years to earn. Some people have even found success in the field with only secretarial backgrounds or the completion of basic certification programs offered by many colleges, including community colleges, and universities in the state.

2. Forensic Investigation: With the onslaught and popularity of shows such as CSI, which stands for crime scene investigation, many people have developed an interest in forensic investigation, making this one of the most quickly growing areas in the field of criminal justice.

Like traditional crime scene investigators, forensic investigators conduct investigations and gather evidence to be entered in a court of law from these crime scenes. Those with forensic training, termed forensic investigators, however, go above and beyond just collecting traditional fingerprints and taking photographs.

They are trained to use special tools to find trace amounts of blood, hair, and other bodily fluids to try and prove their cases or to convict a person of a crime. Generally, special courses in forensics are required for these positions in addition to at least a bachelor’s degree in general criminal justice or criminal investigation.

3.Police Officers: Police officers have long been a staple of the criminal justice field, and they are still just as necessary today. Police officers, who undergo intensive training in addition to background, psychological, and health testing, are responsible for protecting the people under their jurisdiction.

They do this by responding to calls for help, intercepting crimes they see being committed, arresting violators of the law, and building cases to help put them behind bars, where people cannot be harmed by their antics. Being a police officer comes with a moderate salary and a great amount of prestige, in addition to ample opportunities for moving up. Most investigators, detectives, sheriffs, bailiffs, and more started their careers as police officers.

4. Paralegals: Though they are often referred to as “legal secretaries,” paralegals go above and beyond traditional secretarial work. Most commonly employed by lawyers or judges, these professionals must be well versed in law and proper conduct and trained specifically to be paralegals.

They work to enter evidence, appropriately document legal paperwork, and play a pivotal role in cases, investigations, and more. They receive average to above average pay and tend to enjoy excellent job security and short work days.

Obviously, the jobs discussed here represent just a small sampling of the many career opportunities available to those who are trained in criminal justice. If you have the right educational background and/or training, you can do these or any other jobs that you put your mind to.

As long as you are willing to put in the work and effort, you can make your dreams come true. So, whether your job is on this list or not, start taking steps today to prepare yourself for your future. If you do this successfully, you’ll be met with a long, lucrative, and fulfilling career in the field of criminal justice.