Sometimes, questions arise for people who take the criminal justice career path as to possible career opportunities and jobs for criminal justice majors. As a criminal justice student or graduate, you have the unique opportunity to get a job as a real-life equivalent of the mythical superheroes and crime-fighting good guys that populate plenty of Hollywood blockbusters.
The criminal justice discipline contains three primary branches or systems: law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. Each of these includes several fields, such as homeland security, cybersecurity, and policing, while the court system employs professionals in fields such as law, forensic psychology or forensic science technicians, and court administration. Corrections, meanwhile, feature careers in prison administration and social services.
Criminal justice offers an unusually diverse array of degree concentrations and career paths. Often lucrative, varied, and stimulating, most criminal justice careers enjoy a positive job outlook, as indicated by career data in the guide below.
These degrees also help graduates increase their job security, given the growing demand for criminal justice professionals. Criminal justice (CJ) degrees can increase job opportunities, raise salaries, and improve job performance.
Importance of a Criminal Justice Degree
Criminal justice degree programs provide students with a wide skill set upon completion. You can gain new skills and develop experience within a combination of different fields, ultimately developing your knowledge base.
Students of criminal justice programs often claim their studies include a wide variety of skill sets that encompass a few different aspects within the major. As a student of criminal justice, you will encounter different studies in sociology and psychology, information technology, social work, and more that will demand specific skills.
If working in your community, analyzing criminal behaviour, offering rehabilitation services, or working in law enforcement sounds interesting to you, consider majoring in criminal justice.
Types of Jobs for a Criminal Justice Degree
Since criminal justice includes many types of majors and degrees, the jobs available to graduates and those certified in criminal justice majors are many. The following list includes the different jobs available within the field of criminal justice.
1. FBI Agent
Agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation are responsible for investigating bank robberies, terrorism, cyber-crime, public corruption, espionage, organized crime, drug trafficking, and much more.
The FBI is also constantly on the hunt for new agents, but if you are inspired to “protect the American people and uphold the Constitution” you’ll need a four-year degree from an accredited institution followed by rigorous training.
2. CIA Agent
The Central Intelligence Agency’s primary mission is to “collect, analyze, evaluate and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist the president and senior U.S. government policymakers in making decisions relating to national security.” As a special agent, you’ll be focused on operations intended to maintain the security of the United States and its citizens.
3. Private Detective
This isn’t all about overnight stakeouts, as seen on TV. Working on behalf of private clients or hired to assist law enforcement agencies, private detectives are often called upon to do background checks and uncover information related to divorce cases, worker’s compensation claims, and more.
The private eye best known for inspiring the imagination about this line of work is, of course, the fictional super-sleuth Sherlock Holmes.
4. U.S. Marshal
When you work for the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency, your duties may include transporting prisoners, conducting fugitive manhunts, providing security to judges and jurors, and participating in tactical operations, asset forfeiture, and witness security.
5. Fish and Game Warden
Are you the type of person who would love to work outdoors in an important and meaningful position? Park rangers and fish and game wardens patrol forest preserves and waterways, national parks, and other public lands to ensure that both the wildlife habitat and visitors are protected.
6. Corporate Investigator
Your responsibilities in this role will vary greatly, from conducting background checks to investigating “any matter that may be a potential violation of law or company policy.”
While you may or not end up involved in dramatic intrigue on the 46th floor of a skyscraper, as a corporate investigator incident of embezzlement, corruption or blackmail may very well be on your radar screen.
7. Crime Laboratory Analyst
Crime lab analysts help solve crimes by using toxicology, DNA and trace evidence, blood and hair samples, weapons involved in the crime, fingerprints, and other evidence collected at the crime scene.
Thanks to advancements in technology, many criminals are now brought to justice not with an arsenal of high-calibre weaponry but with microscopes and other high-tech forensic tools.
8. Fire Investigator
Much like a police investigator analyzes a crime scene, fire investigators are responsible for determining the cause of the fire. In cases of arson, the property becomes a crime scene and a criminal investigation is launched. As a fire investigator, you may work closely with law enforcement officials to identify, apprehend, and prosecute arsonists.
9. Correctional Officer
Correctional officers work primarily within jails and prisons at the local, state, and federal levels to supervise individuals who are convicted of crimes or awaiting legal proceedings.
This extremely challenging, entry-level role can lead to advancement within the corrections system and can also be a foundation for exploring other aspects of the criminal justice world.
10. Police Officer
The duty to “protect and serve” is an ideal calling if you’re looking to put your criminal justice education to work in any of a wide variety of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
This front-line criminal justice role is a time-honoured way to build a career serving your community, as well as to advance into a variety of other fascinating law enforcement jobs.
11. U.S. Postal Inspector
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will prevent postal inspectors from using forensics, interviewing, and other investigative techniques to solve crimes that range from theft, vandalism, and fraud to identity theft — with a specific focus on crimes that involve the U.S. Postal Service.
12. Intelligence Analyst
In an era when our electronic devices collect more data than ever before, specialists are needed to gather and analyze relevant data to develop intelligence that can be used to solve crimes, assess potential security threats, and more. While intelligence analysts can be found at the state and local levels, the majority work at the federal level for the FBI.
13. Court Administrator
With duties that include overseeing the administrative needs of one or more courthouses (budget, facilities, case management procedures, etc.), working as a court administrator means you’ll also serve as a liaison between the court and other public or private entities.
14. Secret Service Agent
Typically thought of as the men and women who safeguard the president and other top government officials, the Secret Service is also tasked with anti-counterfeiting activities and bringing justice to those who break the laws related to our nation’s financial security.
15. Computer Forensics Investigator
You’ll need advanced computer science forensic skills for this line of work, which often involves tracking or recovering electronic evidence that criminals may have tried to conceal or destroy.
This is a great criminal justice career for those who possess a knack for understanding the inner workings of computers.
16. College Professor
Who’s going to teach the next generation of criminal justice professionals? An advanced degree in criminal justice or a related discipline is typically required to work in the classroom as a criminal justice professor, teaching courses in criminology, corrections and law enforcement operations and administration, and more — focusing on a curriculum that combines cutting-edge theory with real-world applications.
17. Investigative Reporter
Though the journalism industry has suffered from changing economic conditions, crime and investigative reporters are still needed at large print and electronic media organizations.
As a crime reporter, you’ll use both journalistic and investigative skills to report on (or even break news about) criminal activities and how people are affected.
18. Victim Advocate
People who work as victim advocates are trained to provide information, emotional support, access to services, and a wide range of assistance to the victims of crimes, sometimes accompanying them to court proceedings.
Though this is not traditionally a high-paying field, victim advocates are typically more motivated by deep reservoirs of compassion and empathy, and a desire to help others.
19. Chief of Police
Promotion to the chief of police is a common goal if you’re looking to rise through the ranks in a law enforcement career. The chief provides overall leadership and serves as the public face of his or her department, while also handling budgetary, policy, and community relations activities. In larger departments, the top law enforcement official often answers to the title of the commissioner.
20. Probation Officer
This is another option if you’re interested in making a one-on-one difference in the lives of others. Probation officers work with people released from the corrections system to ensure that they comply with the terms of their probation and to help them readjust to everyday life.
21. Forensic Psychologist or Forensic Science Technician
If you’re looking to combine a specialization in psychology with a career in criminal justice, the role of forensic psychologist offers a chance to utilize a deep understanding of human behaviour to develop criminal profiles that law enforcement agencies can use to identify suspects and solve crimes.
Criminal Justice Jobs Annual Salary
|Computer Crimes Investigator||$62,960|
|Forensic Science Technicians||$61,220|
|Correctional Treatment Specialist||$51,410|
|Correctional Officer, Supervisor||$66,880|
|Protective Service Officer||$72,760|
The criminal justice career sector is one of the fastest-growing in the United States. Across the nation, there is a continued, heightened focus on law enforcement, immigration, public safety, and security, which has created a high demand.
This growth is continuing into the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, which estimates that police and detective employment will grow 4% through 2024. The bottom line: entry-level and high-paying criminal justice jobs are available now and into the future.
Criminal justice salaries vary widely based on the criminal justice career that you choose. In 2015, for example, police officers and detectives earned a median salary of $60,270, forensic science technicians made a median salary of $56,320 per year.
Paralegals and legal assistants earned a median of $48,810, and corrections officers and bailiffs made $40,580 as a median salary nationwide.2,3,4,5 Additional factors that will contribute to the salary of jobs in criminal justice include education level, experience, and location. Entry-level criminal justice jobs will typically pay less than mid-level criminal justice careers.
Colleges and universities offer several criminal justice degrees and training programs, several of them designed specifically for working professionals.
An education can conveniently be obtained through online programs, which provide specialized training and education at your fingertips complete your classes online, at your own pace, and graduate with the knowledge you need to begin your criminal justice job search or advance your criminal justice career.
From the period of 2012 to 2022, here is a projection of the growing demand in criminal justice degree holdres.