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Careers for Criminal Justice Majors

There’s no denying that the cost of education today is exponentially skyrocketing with demand. We all know education is an individual’s basic right – but how many see it is a form of investment in one’s personal talent, skills, and aptitude? A student’s interest in particular subject areas no longer counts as the foremost measure of career success. A graduate’s ability to rise above mismatched skills, low salaries, underemployment, and unemployment after obtaining their degree is a good measure of their success.

The global education system is now swamped with STEM and business programs; in America, these two subject areas are viewed by prospective students as the most sensible way of advancing to rewarding careers on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley. But how about those students who have no affinity for finance, science, or mathematics?

The Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice is a course of study with subject areas focused on concrete real-life issues. Criminal Justice graduates have plenty of career options to select from in both the private and public sectors. They study theory while also accruing practical skills, which fully equips them to land important, high-paying jobs upon completion of this degree.

But how difficult is it for a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice graduate to get employed? The answer is: not very difficult. Today, in the field of criminal justice in America alone, there are almost four million people employed in this sector; this does not include those employed under associated professions where criminal justice graduates can also land jobs.

Careers for Criminal Justice Majors Today

Demand and compensation makes the following rewarding criminal justice jobs lucrative:

Law Enforcement

Those who prefer to work in their place of residence or desire to return to the town they grew up in are good candidates for law enforcement jobs. Many towns, cities, and counties have police forces to staff, and retiring police officers need to be replaced with new ones, ideally with the right educational background.

When being considered for a job, a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice gives one a significant edge over candidates with high school diplomas as their highest education credentials. This degree is also required by police department internal regulations for advancement to lieutenant and sergeant levels. Those with knowledge of sociology, forensics, criminology, and statistics are frontrunners for positions from beat officer to detective.

Starting annual salaries for police officers typically range from $26,600 to $49,500. Other jobs in law enforcement include those of patrol officers, federal agents, and the U.S. Department of Justice and Homeland Security.

Corrections Officer or Probation Officer

This is a specialized branch of law enforcement that many criminal justice graduates consider for employment. One can be hired by federal, state, and county probation agencies, as well as prisons and jails. Criminal justice classes that focus on studies of patterns of deviance, shifting community norms, and legal theory equip graduates to handle these jobs effectively. Corrections staff and probation officers man the frontlines of the criminal justice system, implementing established laws for determent, reprisal, or correction and reintegration of lawbreakers into society.

Salaries average at $40,000, higher than those of  low-level officers.

Teacher or Trainer

At first glance, this job job prospect seems irrelevant in a discussion of Criminal Justice degree prospects. However, the number of Criminal Justice undergraduates obtaining their state teaching credentials has provided them with skills that are highly valued in teachers. These are: comprehensive decisions, full appreciation of multiculturalism and diversity, understanding moral values and ethics, and computer literacy.

The federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) lists on its website jobs as instructors, curriculum specialists, and program analysts for Criminal Justice graduates. Education and training specialists are also needed with an annual salary of $60,000-$97,000.

State and Federal Courts

Criminal justice graduates have good career prospects right where all the TV crime dramas unfold.  Some of the jobs available in the courthouse are: bailiff, court clerk, courtroom assistant, criminal law supervisor, case administrator, court manager, court operations specialist, family law mediator, and pretrial services officer. Salaries correspond to the position and geographic location. Current salary rates range from $38,000 to $100,000 or more.


The First 48 and CSI: Miami present jobs in forensic science as stimulating career paths. Did you know that individuals with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice have good chances of landing prime positions in Forensics?

These positions include:

  • Psychological profiler
  • Crime scene investigator
  • Ballistics specialist
  • Blood analyst
  • Criminologist
  • Fiber Technologist
  • DNA analyst
  • Forensic odontologist
  • Homicide detective

Supplementary coursework in sciences – specifically chemistry, biology, and physics – is required on top of a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice; in Forensics, scientific processes are equally important as proper police procedure in Forensics. This is one part of the criminal justice system wherein work requires familiarity with both the microscope and the examination room. Forensic experts make six-figure salaries in addition to the intriguing action they get to experience on the job. Biology and chemistry lab courses coupled with classes in Criminology and Sociology provide a graduate with boundless opportunities to advance on this career path.

Private Security

Undergraduate Criminal Justice majors are well versed in the fields of sociology, criminology, and psychology, which is the ideal training for a job in private security.

Security forces handle emergencies and prevent crime and economic loss in both government agencies and private businesses. Private security officers are sometimes disrespectfully labeled as rent-a-cops, but this is unfair due to the fact that private security forces fulfill many of the same duties as law enforcement officers.

The average annual salary of a private security guard is $27,240. In some areas, the salary of those holding this position was as low as $20,000. These rates are based on salary statistics reports from 2012.

Social Services

Criminal Justice majors study the influence of social factors in communities as well as the causes of crime. This makes for adequate training for careers in public service as guidance counselors, social workers, human services assistants, public benefits interviewers, child custody recommending counselors, and family law mediators. As the growing number of single-parent households has made this type of work vital to both children and adults, employment in the social services field can be a rewarding career path for those with a criminal justice background.

Paralegal / Legal Assistant

This is career path that has become increasingly popular among Criminal Justice majors who have decided not to continue their studies at law school. The availability of recent college graduates with a law and sociology background has provided a surplus of skilled paralegal manpower as technicians for legal research that handle documents, maintain files, and assist clients with routine paperwork.

The annual salary rate of paralegals/legal assistants averages at $46,990. A growth in the number of legal assistant/paralegal positions to as many as 40,000 is predicted within the next eight years.

These career opportunities make a degree in this field of study a worthwhile prospect. But if colleges near you do not carry coursework for this major and relocating is out of the question, do not worry. Thanks to technological advancement, there are other convenient options – a full Criminal Justice course can now be completed online. Earning an online Criminal Justice degree will give you the same edge in terms of credentials as a degree earned at a physical university. Besides studying at the times most convenient for you, enrolling in an online Criminal Justice degree will also save you money. Additionally, it will allow you to continue with current employment.

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