Highest Paying Criminology Jobs

High paying jobs in criminology are not going to make anyone a millionaire. Then again, people don’t go into the field to become the CEOs of major Fortune 500 companies either. High paying criminology careers provide their dividends for many in the research and study aspects that those who find a career in the field love to research and analyze. As noted above, the criminology highest paying job isn’t likely to exceed more than $70,000 annually, but many pursue the field anyway because they feel they are doing community-positive work that matters and they have a genuine fascination for the study of crime and how to prevent it in the future. In this regard, they feel like they have high paying criminology careers in substance, even if the paycheck itself doesn’t match Las Vegas winnings.

Criminologists also find a lot of personal relevance and involvement in current issues affecting society. Many feel mentally and personally rewarded by their participation in realtime social issues related to crime that they would never have access to if they worked in a typical private company career path focused on selling products or services. These are folks who see a good career in research, analysis, theory development and more that’s simply not possible in the typical company R&D fields of many other employers.

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Jobs are presented in order of average income, according to current Payscale data. 

1. Forensic Psychologists

Forensic psychologists perform various types of examinations including competency evaluations and threat assessments. They also provide counseling services to victims who have experienced some type of crime. They are also used in the screening process for law enforcement and other government agencies. Forensic psychologists often start their careers with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Forensic classes may be included in the degree program as a specialization.

Qualified forensic psychologists are in high demand if you look in the right areas. Larger, metropolitan cities often have several openings while a smaller rural community may not have any at all. When a forensic psychologist first enters the workforce, they may be lucky to earn $75,000. With time, however, and a perhaps a master’s degree, they can eventually average between $125,000 and $130,000 per year. The more experience a person can gain in this field, the more they will be able to earn on a yearly basis. In addition to higher pay, their benefits package will also be lucrative as well.

Salary: $129,500.00

2. Police Identification and Records Officers (Crime Scene Evidence Technician)

A police identification and records officer is also known as a crime scene evidence technician. A degree in criminal justice with a specialization in evidence preservation and forensics is extremely beneficial, but may not be required. Much of this job is learned by being “hands-on”. Having a degree will give you a great head start on building a career in law enforcement. Part of the job of a police identification and records officer is to collect and catalog all types of evidence found at crime scenes or collected from the victim. Duties include being highly organized with a great eye for detail. Graduates must be very precise in how they collect and label each piece of evidence.

A police identification and records officer can be found in most police stations or law enforcement agencies. When an officer first starts out, their pay may be as low as $45,000 to $50,000 per year. Once they begin to gain the experience they need to be proficient, their earning potential will dramatically increase. With a few years of experience under their belt, they may be able to earn as much as $85,000 per year on average. The pay for this type of position will vary depending on the size of the department and where it is located.

Salary: $85,000.00

3. Criminologists and Sociologists

Criminologists and sociologists study crime and its effects on society. Sociologists also study how social behaviors contribute to criminal activity and behavior. Having a degree in criminology, criminal justice, psychology, or sociology is often required for either of these unique and highly specialized positions. Criminologists and sociologists are often called in to try and find predictable patterns and other types of leads when tangible evidence may be lacking. These positions require attention to even the smallest detail as well as being able to logically follow clues to identify patterns and other behaviors that can be used to solve a crime.

The demand for these types of jobs is rather low in rural areas but dramatically increases when you move to highly populated areas. The average pay for this type of work is approximately $84,000 depending on where you are located and how much experience you have. The more experience that is gained through working in the field will have a direct impact on your earning potential. 

Salary: $83,400.00

4. Immigrations and Customs Inspectors

Immigrations and customs inspectors are often hired by TSA and work in many major airports and ports across the country, especially those that offer “international” travel. Individuals who choose this type of work may benefit from an interdisciplinary studies degree program or one that deals with immigration. For the most part, however, most of the training that is required for either of these positions comes from TSA or other government agencies that support international travel and trade. It is important for individuals who choose this type of work to be prepared and learn as much from their training as possible before taking on the job.

The overall outlook for this type of job is good if you live in an area that supports international travel. Larger airports and other types of depots or stations will require more workers than smaller areas. As far as pay is concerned, the average salary for this type of position is approximately $73,000 per year. Employees who are first starting out can expect to make considerably less, but the more experience a person gains, the more pay they will be eligible for.

Salary: $73,100.00

5. Forensic Accountants and Financial Examiners

Forensic accountants and financial examiners are required to have a strong accounting and business related background. For forensic examiners, it is also a good idea to have a forensics degree or certification. These types of positions require exceptional math skills and the ability to uncover even the smallest inconsistencies in a company’s or individual’s financial records and accounts. They must be able to solve complex mathematical problems and decipher where money comes from and where it goes. Financial examiners must be bonded and held to the highest standards when it comes to working with large amounts of money and assets.

Forensic accountants and financial examiners can find work in insurance agencies, financial institutions, brokerage houses, and attorneys offices. The demand for these careers is steadily increasing. The average salary for this type of work ranges from $70,000 to $75,000 per year for individuals who have a few years of experience. Individuals who are just starting out but have an exemplary GPA with a degree in finances or accounting may be able to earn a modest amount, albeit somewhat less than the stated average. Individuals who remain in the field and continue to maintain their certifications and licenses may make well above the $75,000 average once they have gained several years of experience.

Salary: $71,500.00

6. College Professor

College professors must have a degree in the subject matter they will be teaching, especially if it is a class that is part of an accredited degree program. Many professors have completed a PhD program in order to have full working knowledge of the subject they are teaching. While certifications are a plus, they aren’t required. The job description of a professor involves teaching college-level courses in a classroom setting over an online platform. The professor must be able to instruct the students as well as provide tests that are used to evaluate what the students have retained over the course of the class.

College professors who are able to provide a quality education to their students are always in high demand. With today’s online learning platforms, professors can teach from the college itself or from a remote location. Depending on their level of education and the amount of experience they have had in a real-world setting as well as in being a teacher, their pay will vary. In most cases, an average salary of about $71,000 per year is considered to be a fair amount. Professors who have been around for many years may expect to earn more simply because of their tenure.

Salary: $70,400.00

7. Arbitrators, Mediators, and Conciliators

Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators are employed by attorneys, large corporations, and any other company where conflict resolution plays an essential role. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators are hired to handle disputes or conflicts between two or more parties so that a fair and equitable outcome can be reached. In order to be employed in this line of work, you must have a Bachelor’s degree or higher in dispute resolution or mediation. Psychology and interpersonal communication are also a plus. Some states also require that mediators be certified/licensed and bonded.

The demand for mediators, arbitrators, and conciliators will depend on where you live. Smaller communities will have less need for this line of work than large cities where it is in high demand. The average yearly salary for an arbitrator is around $64,000. The more experience a candidate has, the higher their earning potential. Experience and education are both key factors, but a person’s value will increase dramatically once they become well-known as a powerful negotiator.

Salary: $63,900.00

8. Fire Inspectors and Investigators

Fire inspectors and investigators are highly trained professionals who often start out their careers as firemen either on a volunteer basis or as part of a paid fire brigade. Fire inspectors are required to complete at least a two-year degree program, while fire investigators, especially those who wish to work at a federal level must earn a four-year degree in fire sciences. Fire inspectors inspect both residences and commercial buildings to identify fire hazards. They offer recommendations and work with the owners of the buildings to ensure they remain in compliance with state fire codes. Fire investigators are brought in after a fire to determine the cause of the fire and what could have possibly been done to prevent it.

Fire inspectors and investigators often go into their jobs with many years of experience. An average yearly salary of around $61,000 can be expected if a person has the required education as well as a modest amount of experience to rely on. Fire inspectors and investigators are in demand in almost every location. Even small towns have an inspector to come in and make sure local properties are safe from common fire hazards.

Salary: $60,900.00

9. Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians may work in a lab setting or out in the field at crime scenes. Either way, they will require at least a Bachelor’s degree or higher in biology, chemistry, or other natural science degree program. A forensic science degree as well as on-the-job training will be able to provide the bulk of what a technician will need once they start to work. Job duties include collecting evidence, preserving and labeling evidence, performing tests, and building case files. Technicians must also have great attention to detail and be able to remember even the smallest facts.

Forensic science technicians are primarily found in mid-size to larger communities. The average salary for forensic science technicians is approximately $60,000 per year. For individuals who have just started out and are working with little experience, they may be offered less to start. As they gain more experience, however, the earnings will increase along with their job performance. Individuals who have many years of experience can expect to earn larger salaries and an increase in the opportunities for advancement.

Salary: $59,100.00

10. Fish and Game Wardens

Fish and game warden jobs are great for individuals who love to spend their time in nature. Each state has different requirements on education, but most require at least an Associates’ or Bachelor’s degree from a school that offers accredited degree programs. Most departments prefer that the degree is in a natural science or criminal justice field. The duties of a fish and game warden involve upholding the laws associated with hunting and fishing as well as managing and overseeing the day to day operations of county lands and state parks.

Most counties have a fish and game warden if they do not have any state parks or national lands. The reason for this is to enforce hunting and fishing laws on a local level. The average pay for a fish and game warden will range between $55,000 and $60,000 depending on the extent of their duties. The more time they have on the job earning valuable experience, the higher their earning potential will be over the years. They may also be offered managerial jobs higher up within the parks system.

Salary: $57,700.00

How Much Can I Make with a Criminology Degree?

The pay range of a criminologist tends to be in line with sociologists in general. The high paying jobs with criminal degree background top out at about $70,000 annually. However the bulk of people working in the field tend to earn between $40,000 to $70,000, depending on their level of experience and position. This is lower than general sociologists who represent the overall industry group, according the to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Because many criminologists work in an educational program area, they also have added benefits that might not be available in regular career positions, such as enhanced retirement pension benefits as well as robust health care plans. These additional features of compensation in combination can make high paying jobs with criminology degree backgrounds better when completely considering all the benefits an employee get versus just the salary figure alone. While the highest paying jobs with a criminology degree won’t necessarily break six figures, those working in the field will live comfortably.

How Do I Get a Better Job in Criminology?

There are various ways that working employees can expand their scope and ability to argue for the best jobs in criminology. First, they can develop experience and specialization in key aspects of criminology. Some of the best criminology jobs are highly-specialized in key areas of study needed because so many critical crimes depend on key factors covered by the specialization.

Other ways one can secure the best jobs for criminology graduates is to, believe it or not, go back to school for additional certificates and post-graduate degrees. These aspects give an employee an edge against peers who also have similar backgrounds, experience and education. A certificate or post-graduate degree could push a candidate into a higher bracket against everyone else in the candidate pool when everything else is equal between the competitors.

It’s notable that many of the best jobs for criminology majors are with the federal government. Due to the multiple agencies involved in crime and law enforcement as well as the nationwide coverage typically involved, candidates will frequently find their best prospects with federal government versus anywhere. The larger agencies, budgets, and staffing needs by and far make the feds the number one employer with the best jobs with a criminology degree. They also pay the best at the upper levels, with some rare positions making as much as $84,100 annually.

Candidates should note, however, statistically a gender gap is still present in the field. While on the study and candidate side of things genders are equality represented, the same can’t be said about compensation once in practice. Comparing average salaries, women criminologists tend to earn less than men in the same roles and field.  This salary disparity seems to have the best jobs from criminology graduates paying only a top end of $51,500 annually for women while men can realize at least $20,000 more in comparison. It also gets reinforced in the research side of the field as those who want research publicity to further their new careers need to be partnered with a known male leading voice in the industry.

Finally, networking is a big factor, like many other industries, on a person’s financial career success. Whom one knows can have as much an impact on a person’s new criminology career as what one knows, and probably even more in the long-run of a person’s work life. 


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