Criminal Justice in California

A criminal justice degree program in California can open the door to many different types of jobs in a large number of fields. Graduates will find it easy to apply for jobs with security departments, forensic labs, law firms, and many public offices within the local, state, and federal judicial system. There are also employment opportunities for independent contractors who specialize in private investigations, asset recovery, and education. Teaching is a great way to use your criminal justice degree.

Common Criminal Justice Jobs in California

A good criminal justice degree provides you with all the skills you will need for an entry-level position in any of these areas. You have your choice of working in the public sector or with private companies. If you want to open your own company and work for yourself, you have that option as well. Many people who enjoy the criminal justice field may choose a position in law enforcement. That, however, is not the only option available to you. If you are unsure of what direction you want to go, look into the different specializations offered in the criminal justice field

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Do I Have to Work in Law Enforcement?

Just because you studied criminal justice, it doesn’t mean that your only career option is to be a police officer or corrections officer. There is a wide range of specializations to be considered in the criminal justice field. Forensics, criminal investigations, juvenile officers, probation, and many more jobs can be considered. Criminal justice is much more than finding evidence and arresting criminals. Interrogations and interviews must be performed. Crime scene reconstruction and administrative positions are all possible options.

Instead of working in law enforcement, you may choose to go to the other side and take a job as a law clerk. Working in a legal office requires an in-depth knowledge of the criminal justice field and how our legal system works. When working on the legal side of the table, you can also choose to work within the courts by assisting the judge, clerks, and other staff who ensure the courts run smoothly. No matter what side you choose to work with, you can build a solid career in the state of California. 

How Much Can I Make with a Criminal Justice Degree in California?

Entry-level positions within the criminal justice field in the state of California can start out as low as $25,000 per year. Many of those entry-level positions allow the employee to be hired in without a degree. Their wages will continue to increase the longer they work in the field. If they choose to return to school and earn a criminal justice degree, it may put them in line for advanced job opportunities as they become available. On-the-job experience is invaluable and will give you an opportunity to learn things that won’t be taught in a classroom.

In California, individuals who have been employed in the field for several years can make as much as $53,000 per year. The more education they have to go along with their experience, the higher their earning potential will be. Having both education and experience on their side will give them an opportunity to move up much faster than if they only had one or the other. In California, the highest-paid workers in the criminal justice field can make just shy of $100,000 per year. Many people who are able to achieve this level of status in their field are often given supervisory or management positions.

Is a Criminal Justice Degree Worth It?

It is up to you to decide whether or not a criminal justice degree is worth it. Choosing to enter such a diverse career field gives you many options when it comes to what type of job you want to perform. Learning the basics in a department is a great way to gain a head start and begin working toward your future. Once you have a working knowledge of the fundamentals, you can then choose to pursue a specialization that best suits your interests.

If you love investigating and working with evidence, you may want to enter the police force. If you prefer working from a legal standpoint, then working in a law firm may better suit your goals. Both the legal field, as well as, law enforcement offers many employment options in many different departments. If you are working in one field and find out it isn’t what you thought it would be, move on to something else. Taking a certificate program will help you learn more without committing yourself to a  full degree program.

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