Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice Degree Jobs

Apply By: 1/6/2021

Classes Start: 1/11/2021

A computer forensic investigator working on multiple computers
March 25, 2021

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 Officer

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 Officer

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.

Dispatcher

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 Caseworker

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:

Forensic Accountant

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
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Criminal procedure
  • Criminal justice ethics
  • Forensics
  • Cyber security
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Chemical dependency
  • Public administration

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
  • Private security 
  • Enforcement of fish and game laws
  • Transit security 
  • School and university security 
  • Parole and probation 
  • Parks department security 
  • Counseling 

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.

Sources:

Federal Bureau of Investigation, Forensic Accountants

Federal Bureau of Investigation, White-Collar Crime

Houston Chronicle, “What Is a Social Worker’s Position in Criminal Justice?”

Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, Behind the Scenes of Criminal Justice

PayScale, Average Child, Family, or School Social Worker Salary

PayScale, Average Criminal Investigator Salary

PayScale, Average Forensic Accountant Salary

PayScale, Average Forensic Computer Analyst Salary

Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, About

The Santa Clarita Valley Signal, “Do You Have What It Takes to Succeed in Criminal Justice?”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Correctional Officers and Bailiffs

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Police and Detectives

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatchers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Protective Service Occupations

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors