Can being a member of the military help me get a job in criminal justice?

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Veterans, active-duty military, reservists, and guardsmen receive preference when it comes to hiring for federal jobs. Employment possibilities include the various agencies involved in law enforcement, such as Border Patrol Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, TSA, Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, and Citizenship and Immigration Services. All of these come under the leadership of the Department of Homeland Security. Other areas are the alphabet agencies, such as the FBI, ATF, DEA, and related agencies in law enforcement or criminal justice capacity. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

What is Veterans’ Preference?

Veterans’ Preference can provide eligible veterans preference in the hiring process over other candidates. The prospect of preferential treatment for veterans does not extend to internal promotions, transfers, or reassignments. United States Code, title 5, Section 2108 dictates that eligibility depends on active duty service, receipt of a Purple Heart or campaign badge, or a service-connected disability. More importantly, only service personnel released under an honorable or general discharge qualify.

According to the Fedshirevets site, a point system determines the degree of acceptance. Three categories allot points of zero, five, and ten. The ten-point eligibility requires a service-connected disability or a Purple Heart. When an agency uses this system, those who have a compensable service-connected disability of 10 percent or more can advance to the top of the highest category. Scientific or professional positions at the GS-9 level or higher are excluded.

Integrated into the Veterans’ Preference is two authorities: non-competitive and competitive.


There are two ways to qualify for a GS11 or lower grade position without the interview process. If you are within three years of an honorable discharge, you can invoke the Veterans Readjustment Authority (VRA). Provided you submit a resume and human resources deems you are qualified, no further applicants need consideration.

The other means of avoiding competition for a job is if you have a 30% or more disability due to a service-related injury. There is no grade limit for federal government jobs in this category.


This group of candidates competes with others for open positions within the federal government. Competitive authority falls under the point system outlined above. The two sections are non-disabled or five-point preference and service-connected or ten-point eligible.

Criminal Justice Career

Criminal justice is a vast field covering the court system, probation, parole, victimology, legal system, child advocates, corrections, police, and more. Former members of the military may settle into one of these roles, as they understand the levels of command; they also have self-discipline and possess moral standards. Also, there are education benefits available to veterans to launch a career in criminal justice.            IMAGE SOURCE

The Post-9/11 GI Bill Eligibility for Active Duty Veterans pays up to 100% of the tuition and fees for an in-state student at Institutions of Higher Learning. You may also qualify for a monthly housing allowance and a stipend covering the cost of books and supplies.

The full benefit (100%) requires veterans must have an honorable discharge after at least three years of active duty after September 10, 2001. The benefit also applies to those with at least 30 continuous days of active duty and discharge for a service-connected disability.

Per the Veterans Employment Toolkit, the definition of active duty refers to full-time military personnel. They may work on a military base, and deployment is possible at any moment. Individuals serving in any branch of the Reserve or National Guard are not active duty, according to the VA. However, National Guard members receive Veteran status after serving 30 consecutive days in a war zone.

Military-Friendly Colleges

There are lists of colleges and universities that have awards and recognition for being a Military-Friendly School. These institutions provide lower tuition rates that benefit the approximately eighteen million veterans of the armed services. The University of Florida Online, for example, has an Office of Student Veteran Services that acts as a liaison between students and various federal and state agencies.

UF Online waives out-of-state fees for honorably discharged veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, the U.S. Reserve Forces, and the National Guard. The school boasts of an affordable rate of $111.92 per credit hour, and $17.26 required fees. The institution offers a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. Courses in criminal justice, law, legal process, juvenile justice, and criminal theory may put you on the road to a career in this field.

Another note-worthy school is the American Military University that offers an array of degrees for those focused on criminal justice. The school is the #1 educator to the U.S. military offering online programs. It offers degrees from Associate to Doctorate and certificates. Some of the pertinent degrees at the undergraduate level are a Bachelor of Arts or Science in Criminal Justice, a BS in Cybersecurity, a BA in Homeland Security and Intelligence Studies, and many others.

Additional Resources

Top 10 Graduate Degree Programs in Criminal Justice

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