Criminal justice degree jobs span areas such as law enforcement, the court system and corrections, all of which are vital to ensuring public safety. Although the field of criminal justice reaches across numerous occupations, as of May 2019, nearly 3.5 million people worked in protective service roles alone, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). After you earn a criminal justice degree, jobs that offer the opportunity to contribute to society are available both in the private sector and in the public sector at the federal, state and local levels.
Careers With a Criminal Justice Degree
The spectrum of careers graduates can pursue with a criminal justice degree is quite broad. For example, some of the more traditional job titles include:
Police officers are on the front lines of the criminal justice system. Examples of their duties include responding to calls, arresting people suspected of crimes, serving warrants, collecting evidence, writing detailed reports and testifying in court. The median annual salary for police and detectives was $65,170 as of May 2019, according to the BLS.
Correctional officers are responsible for keeping order in jails and prisons. They perform duties such as supervising inmates’ activities, inspecting facilities, transporting inmates and writing daily reports. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for correctional officers and bailiffs was $45,300 as of May 2019.
Dispatchers normally work in emergency communications centers answering both emergency and nonemergency calls. Their responsibilities include determining different types of emergencies, providing information to first responders and giving medical instructions to callers. The median annual salary for police, fire and ambulance dispatchers was $41,910 as of May 2019, according to the BLS.
For graduates with a criminal justice degree, jobs related to counseling also potentially available, such as:
Drug and Alcohol Specialist
Drug and alcohol specialists provide treatment to individuals who have addiction issues. Examples of their job duties include screening people for addiction, developing treatment plans and working with people to guide their recovery from addiction. According to the BLS, substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors had a median annual salary of $46,240 as of May 2019.
Family caseworkers assist children and families who are in the criminal justice system. For example, a family caseworker can assist victims of domestic violence and their children in finding housing and accessing benefits. They also can assist foster children who are removed from their homes due to neglect or abuse. According to February 2021 PayScale data, the median annual salary for child, family and school social workers is approximately $42,000.
Correctional Treatment Specialist
Correctional treatment specialists focus on offender rehabilitation. Examples of their duties include developing rehabilitation plans, creating parole and release plans, connecting offenders with training and education, and writing detailed reports. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists was $54,290 as of May 2019.
Graduates with a criminal justice degree can also pursue careers related to combating white-collar crime, such as:
Specializing in the financial aspects of an investigation, forensic accountants “follow the money.” They perform duties such as uncovering suspicious transactions, tracing sources of funds, assisting in preparing search warrants and testifying in court. The median annual salary for a forensic accountant is approximately $69,200, according to February 2021 PayScale data.
White-Collar Crime Investigator
White-collar crime investigators primarily investigate crimes that do not include physical violence. For example, they investigate cases involving money laundering, securities fraud, bank fraud and embezzlement, or election law violations. According to February 2021 PayScale data, the median annual criminal investigator salary is approximately $67,200.
Computer Forensic Investigator
Computer forensic investigators identify and preserve computer and digital evidence during investigations. They perform duties such as the on-site seizure of computer resources, locating deleted files and testifying in court. The median annual salary of a forensic computer analyst is approximately $74,400, according to February 2021 PayScale data.
The Benefits of a Criminal Justice Degree
Regardless of a graduate’s specific career choice, the benefits of earning a criminal justice degree are numerous. For example, courses offered through a criminal justice degree program enable students to acquire valuable skills and expertise in:
Oral and written communication
Criminal justice ethics
Child abuse and neglect
Another benefit is the degree’s versatility, as graduates with a criminal justice degree can find jobs in a wide variety of sectors, such as:
Law enforcement at the local, state and federal levels
Corrections at the local, state and national levels
Criminal investigation at the local, state and federal levels
Enforcement of fish and game laws
School and university security
Parole and probation
Parks department security
Discover a Career in Criminal Justice
Criminal justice is a critical component of a well-functioning society, and criminal justice degree jobs offer graduates the chance to contribute directly to that effort.
If you have an interest in criminal justice, explore Peru State College’s online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, which offers three concentrations. The administration option offers courses in areas such as human resources management, employee training and team design. The counseling option includes courses focusing on techniques of counseling, casework management and addiction. The legal studies option offers courses covering topics such as commercial and criminal law, government and diversity issues. Don’t wait to begin your journey toward a career in criminal justice.