As a Mississippi resident who is interested in possibly pursuing a career in the criminal justice field, you probably have quite a few questions. You’re likely wondering about what you have to do to get started in the field, where you might work and in what capacity, what kind of salary you can expect, and of course, what your daily schedule would be like.

Unfortunately, there are no simple, one size fits all answers to these questions. There are so many different ways in which those with criminal justice backgrounds can work in the state, and their schedules and job responsibilities will vary drastically from one person and position to the next.

No matter what kind of job you end up doing, however, make sure that you prepare yourself for long, challenging work days, usually spent dealing with difficult people and situations. If you’re going to have success in the criminal justice field, you need to be adequately prepared for the hardships of working in the industry.

Those who have the most success tend to be hardworking, enjoy working with others and the public in general, kind but firm, and able to separate their personal lives from their work lives. This last quality is particularly important, since it is very easy to get burnt out in this line of work without proper distance.

This isn’t to say, however, that there isn’t an upside to working in the criminal justice field. In fact, most people find it to be quite rewarding, both personally and financially. Depending upon your position, you will most likely be impacting people’s lives for the better and helping others each and every day; few people can say that when they go to work each morning!

You’ll also enjoy a higher than average salary, opportunities for advancing in most positions, excellent job security—even in these troubled economic times , and great benefits, especially if you work for the state.

Most criminal justice jobs run on a traditional nine to five schedule or similar. However, some jobs, such as police officer will usually have varied shifts, sometimes having the person work overnight and sometimes having him or her work during the day. Criminal investigators will usually work typical workdays, but may be called in at any time they are needed. So, flexibility in scheduling and complete devotion to one’s job tends to be a must in the criminal justice field.

In addition to discussing scheduling concerns, prospective criminal justice employees will also want to take a look at their own histories. Almost all jobs within the criminal justice field require extensive background testing and psychological and health testing as well.

As such, you’ll need to make sure that you have not been in serious trouble with the law (though there are sometimes exceptions to mistakes made in the past, particularly in youth), and that you are in good physical and mental health before deciding to go into this field. If you have questions about whether or not you’re suited to the criminal justice field, talking to other professionals for guidance can be helpful.

In fact, any time you can send observing work in the field or, better yet, interning in a criminal justice workplace will be great preparation for actually working in the field one day. Seize every opportunity that you can to learn about life as a criminal justice professional because, hopefully, you will one day be one yourself! The better prepared you are for the realities of your new working life, the more successful you are likely to be.