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What are the highest paying jobs in criminal justice?

I know they say crime doesn’t pay, but what does criminal justice pay, and what are the highest paying criminal justice jobs? Before entering the field of criminal justice one may be curious as to the opportunities and career paths available. The salary and earning potential associated with these jobs can impact how far one goes in their education or even if criminal justice is the right career for them. Below are the highest paying careers in criminal justice.


The highest criminal justice salary belongs to those, who after completing their masters in criminal justice, advance their career by attending law school. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary is $113,310 nationwide. Lawyers are responsible for analyzing cases on an individual case to determine probable outcomes; interrupting complex rules and regulations; advising and representing clients for the client’s best interest.

Detectives and Criminal Investigators

Specialized training in fingerprint processing, blood splatter interpretation and major death investigation are just a few of the prerequisites for those interested in earning the second highest criminal justice salary. Investigators are not limited to crime scenes as there are openings within the government; such titles include IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent. The average annual salary is $71,770.

Local Law Enforcement

Other careers in criminal justice are found within local law enforcement. First line supervisors of correctional officers earn an annual average of $55,030; police and sheriff’s patrol bring home about $54,230 a year; correctional officers average $38,990 annually. Also known as jailers, correctional officers supervise those who are placed under arrest and are held in jail. The correctional officers report to their first line supervisors who are responsible for maintaining the safety of inmates and officers as well. They supervise and ensure the safety of inmates. Police patrol towns, cities and counties for illegal activities. It is their duty to serve and protect the public.

Other Criminal Justice Jobs

Behind every great operation is a group of administrative support who tackle duties behind the scenes. During every court room appearance, a court reporter records, verbatim, arguments made by attorneys, recommendations from prosecutors and findings of judges. Paralegals support lawyers by compiling research, conducting client interviews and following up on cases. These support positions earns about $48,530 and $46,730 respectively.

Local law enforcement officers and investigators with several years of experience may elect to venture out on their own enterprise by moving from the public sector to the private. Private detectives are hired by clients who want to obtain additional information about a particular person or business. These detectives may photograph subjects of interest or search for missing persons. They choose their own hours and the clients that they do or don’t want to work with. However by moving into a private client base, there is a significant pay cut. Annual salary: $43,710.

Overall, the highest paying criminal justice paying jobs are lawyers, criminal investigators and local law enforcement. Consideration for costs of education, home and work balance and career goals are a must when seeking criminal justice jobs.

Check out our Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs for 2015

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