If you carry a raging desire to protect the greater good above all else and help those in need, a degree in criminal justice may be the best fit for you.
In the most literal sense, a criminal justice degree involves administering justice to those accused of committing or have committed crimes. In addition to that, the scale of criminal justice jobs spans a wide range of specialties and interests. Depending on the position, jobs in criminal justice may require specialized training in areas like forensics, finance, psychology, or investigation.
Criminal justice professionals work in federal law enforcement agencies, police departments, courthouses, and prisons. They also patrol the streets to ensure public safety. Along with the potential to make a difference in society, the career outlook of criminal justice graduates is exceptionally bright, with salaries ranging from $60,000 to $170,000 and above.
So, with that in mind, what options can you pursue with a criminal justice degree? In this article, we will review some of the best criminal justice careers across various experience levels to help you discover one that aligns with your interests.
1. Police Officer
Yearly Income: $63,380
One of the many careers you can pursue with a criminal justice degree is being a police officer. As you’ve seen in various cop shows, police officers respond and patrol to incidents as needed while trying their best to maintain peace on the streets. Indeed, it is a challenging job that requires physicality, the ability to make life-or-death decisions, and a handful of soft skills. Candidates must be at least 21, and after that come personal and physical qualifications and then training in a police academy. Other than that, U.S. citizenship is needed.
The educational requirements to becoming a police officer vary, but a college degree is enough to deal with the deal in most cases. But if you don’t have one, now might be a good time to start looking because virtual learning is rising. As of today, you can earn a criminal justice degree online without going through the hustle and bustle of admissions and standardized tests. In fact, various schools now offer the opinion to earn degrees online, no matter your goals. So apply now and create a better future for your criminal justice mind.
2. Criminal Investigator
Yearly Income: $67,170
Criminal and private investigators are known for solving crimes, sometimes spending days or months on the same case. These experts work closely with other law enforcement experts to gather and assess evidence, make arrests, and interview witnesses. These roles demand many interpersonal interactions, so criminal investigators need to demonstrate remarkable empathy and communication skills. Other required skills include sound decision-making and profound leadership.
Furthermore, criminal investigators may spend weeks responding to emergencies, reviewing crime scenes, determining people of interest, testifying in court, etc. Criminal justice investigators must combine experience and education, a high school diploma, and a bachelor’s in criminal justice to handle such responsibilities.
3. Criminal Law Paralegal
Yearly Income: $53,910
Paralegals help attorneys, primarily in law firms but in private and government departments as well. They may have to deal with a higher level of responsibility, such as collecting information on criminal cases, writing, researching relevant laws, filing motions with courts, and preparing cases.
A bachelor’s degree is often required but not necessarily in a specified field of interest. A degree in criminal justice is well-suited for paralegal careers because these professionals often encounter all three aspects of justice – courts, corrections, and law enforcement.
4. Private Detectives
Yearly Income: $55,080.
To be a private detective, you must have the ability to uncover information regarding crimes, collect and handle evidence that will be admissible in court. Private detectives may not come across many crime-related cases, but they should have forensic and investigative skills. They may hold background checks, help locate missing persons, or unfold information about civil matters.
These professionals may work independently or for agencies. Most states do not have specific educational requirements but do demand licensing. Though they don’t have the authority of police officers, private detectives routinely deal with courts and law enforcement agencies. Therefore, a bachelor’s in criminal justice would be appropriate for this career.
5. FBI Agent
Yearly Income: $64,060
FBI agents work for the United States government to safeguard specific people from domestic threats. Duties performed by FBI agents depend on specialization and background. For instance, some experts work as accountants, while others monitor suspects. However, most FBI agents secure warrants, make arrests, and gather evidence.
As an FBI agent, you will be working over 40 hours per week, with generous government benefits and a solid salary. FBI agents must have professional experience and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice regarding educational requirements. Other than that, they must complete a 20-week training session in Quantico, Virginia.
6. Prison Warden
Yearly Income: $88,264
Prison wardens are superior correctional officers in all of the prisons. They perform supervisory and administrative duties, such as managing budgets, creating schedules, and promoting safety. Prison wardens also make employment decisions regarding training and hiring. They act as leaders within a prison setting while allocating responsibilities to correctional constables.
To be a prison warden, you must hold a bachelor’s in criminal justice and have years of experience in corrections.
7. Parole Officers
Yearly Income: $56,630
Most commonly known as probation officers, parole officers assist convicted criminals in getting their lives back on track after release from their sentence. They ensure that former prisoners comply with the limitations of their release and support and help them through counseling, coordinating vocational services, or more if needed.
Parole officers make the community a better place by protecting it from repeat criminals. For this profession, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or any other area is a must.
The field of criminal justice is vivid and offers a range of rewarding career opportunities. Along with jobs in various public-serving sectors, your background in criminal justice can lay the foundation for law school and help you cross mountains in your career.
So what are you waiting for? Pick a career path of your interest and kick-start your journey to ultimate job satisfaction.