Great Jobs For Criminal Justice Majors
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If you enjoy helping others and want to make a difference in your local communities, a degree in criminal justice may be the right fit for you. The criminal justice field can offer dozens of rewarding job opportunities in areas like crime prevention, victim advocacy, corrections and rehabilitation, and investigative work.
There are plenty of opportunities for growth or employment in this field as well. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in criminal justice are growing faster than average, and are expected to grow by about 5% from 2019 to 2029.
The potential careers and opportunities for graduates with criminal justice degrees will largely depend on the degree specialization they chose and the type of degree they pursued. For example, if you specialized in forensics, you may find a job as a forensic scientist after graduation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), forensic science technicians earn a median salary of $59,150 per year, with a 14% projected job growth rate from 2018-2028.
Ready to learn more about what you can do with a criminal justice degree This guide covers some of the top criminal justice careers, including potential salaries, projected job growth, and common duties.
One of the most appealing aspects of working in criminal justice is the diversity of career options available. Criminal justice examines concepts in areas including criminology, psychology, and sociology. This interdisciplinary nature leads to careers in a variety of settings.
Those interested in becoming bounty hunters must demonstrate a combination of education, experience, and skill. Many bounty hunters begin their careers in law enforcement, gaining the experience and skills necessary to pursue and apprehend criminals. Bounty hunters don't need a specific level of education, though many earn degrees related to criminal justice to begin their careers.
Corrections officers, including bailiffs and jailers, work for local, state, and federal governments to oversee arrested individuals and those serving jail time. Corrections officers must hold a high school diploma and complete a training academy. Some work environments, such as federal prisons, require bachelor's degrees related to criminal justice or counseling, plus multiple years of work experience.
CSIs typically need a bachelor's degree in forensic science or a related field, including biology, chemistry, or criminal justice. They must also complete comprehensive training programs, learning techniques for documenting evidence, professing fingerprints, analyzing blood spatter, and working at death scenes. After getting hired, CSIs receive on-the-job training to complete their education.
Homeland security careers require a combination of education and experience. Many criminal justice and homeland security programs mandate internships to ensure that graduates earn some experience before applying for homeland security jobs. Students' internships may impact potential career paths.
To become homicide detectives, candidates must hold associate or bachelor's degrees in criminal justice and experience as a police officer. Homicide detectives must possess investigation, problem-solving, and interviewing skills.
Prospective lawyers must first earn bachelor's degrees related to law or criminal justice before attending and completing law school. After graduating from law school, prospective lawyers must pass the multistate professional responsibility exam and the bar exam to earn licensure.
Parole officers need at least a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field. Federal parole officers often must hold master's degrees. According to the BLS, local parole officers earn the highest median wages, at $57,920.
Police officers must complete a high school diploma and training. Officers who earn bachelor's degrees in criminal justice may make higher salaries and receive job promotions. Successful police officers possess strong decision-making and interpersonal skills. Police officers must understand when to demonstrate restraint in tense situations to protect all parties involved.
Members of the Secret Service must meet strict requirements. They must first complete bachelor's degrees, though the best candidates hold master's degrees or higher. Next, individuals must gain experience in criminal justice, usually by working with other federal agencies. Finally, applicants must meet physical health requirements, including fitness and eyesight requirements. Once accepted, Secret Service agents undergo months of specialized training.
Victim advocates often work with criminal justice professionals to help victims receive justice. The day-to-day work of a victim advocate includes counseling, support, and assisting with legal services.
A criminal justice degree prepares you to pursue a wide range of entry-level positions in fields like law enforcement, investigation, public safety, corrections, and social services. Each of these fields involves extensive work with the general public. Criminal justice professionals work to ensure the protection of citizens, property security, and justice enactment.
Many criminal justice jobs offer generous salaries that are commensurate with education, experience, and/or job risk level. Compensation packages vary by location and employer, but many entry-level opportunities in criminal justice offer annual pay that exceeds than $50,000. Salary ranges typically increase with additional experience.
Careers in criminal justice generally fall into three main branches: law enforcement, courts, and corrections/rehabilitation. Each of these branches features similarities and differences regarding job duties, salary expectations, required education/experience, and work conditions.
With so many options available, aspiring criminal justice professionals often find it difficult to decide which path to pursue. Use the tables below to compare key details across nine common criminal justice jobs.
Motivated criminal justice majors may select from dozens of other career options. Opportunities abound for graduates with secondary interests in areas like healthcare, conservation, youth services, forensic science, and anthropology.
Below, we explore a few universally applicable steps to securing a criminal justice career. The following sections cover the process of completing a criminal justice degree, gaining experience, and engaging in the job hunt.
Education requirements vary across the criminal justice field. Applicants may pursue some entry-level opportunities with just a high school diploma, provided they successfully complete training. Other areas of criminal justice maintain more extensive requirements for entry-level applicants, such as a certificate, associate, or bachelor's.
Education often impacts a criminal justice professional's salary and promotions. Years of experience also play a significant role, but individuals with college degrees typically earn higher incomes and enjoy increased opportunities for advancement.
Criminal justice certificates provide a quicker, more affordable alternative to degrees. Offered by both two- and four-year colleges, certificates typically comprise 4-5 core courses (12-15 credits). They typically take just a few months to complete, making them ideal for students seeking a less expensive, quick path to an entry-level criminal justice career.
An associate degree in criminal justice requires approximately 60-68 credits of coursework. Full-time students can graduate in two years, although many programs also allow for part-time or self-paced attendance. Undergraduate associate programs serve students of all ages who seek a more thorough education than a certificate.
Associate programs require core courses focused on criminal justice concepts and general education courses focused on subjects like mathematics, English, and history. Students can often select a concentration to narrow their studies toward a specific career path, such as law enforcement, corrections, or forensics.
One of the most popular criminal justice degree options, a bachelor's requires approximately 120 credits of coursework and takes four years of full-time study to complete. In a bachelor's program, students take a combination of general education courses, core criminal justice courses, and elective courses.
With a master's degree, graduates can advance to leadership positions such as emergency management director, law enforcement instructor, or supervisor in corrections or policing. Mid-career professionals typically benefit the most from pursuing a master's degree, as career advancement in the criminal justice field often requires advanced education and extensive field experience.
Master's programs comprise approximately 60 credits of coursework, including core courses and open electives designed to meet each individual's interests and professional goals. Most master's degrees in criminal justice require an interdisciplinary, field-based capstone. Students typically graduate in 2-3 years.
To earn a doctorate in criminal justice, students typically complete anywhere from 40-90 credits. Completion times vary, with graduation possible in as few as three years or as many as six years. Doctoral degree programs often attract mid-career professionals with experience in leadership positions.
These versatile degrees provide students with the advanced skills needed to analyze criminal justice policies, practices, and concerns, like use of force and wrongful convictions. Doctoral programs typically require comprehensive examinations and dissertations. Graduates can pursue careers at the highest levels of criminal justice administration or in academic education and research.
Many entry-level criminal justice jobs do not require candidates to demonstrate prior experience to apply. For beginning careers in policing and corrections, job candidates go through rigorous physical and course-based training programs to learn what they need to know. New police hires typically spend several months partnered with an experienced officer for additional on-the-job training. 153554b96e