Degrees in criminal justice have become increasingly popular along with the rising popularity of crime shows on television. But what can one do with a criminal justice degree? What sorts of criminal justice jobs are available to the graduate?
The criminal justice degree helps you learn how to become effective in the field of law enforcement and its related careers. Students learn how to handle social control, civil and individual rights, and how to apply the law to various circumstances. If you have a desire to help people and learn about the law, you’ll find the criminal justice field to be a rewarding one.
What Types of Criminal Justice Jobs and Careers can I Get?
After completing a criminal justice degree program, you can start your career in the field of law enforcement or work in industries that want employees with a criminal justice degree. Whether you’re just starting school, or graduating with your degree in criminal justice, you’ll find that there are many entry-level criminal justice jobs available that help you put your education to good use. This degree offers multiple career paths that sometimes overlap with other career fields and broadens the types of criminal justice jobs available to you that go beyond working as a police officer or in a correctional facility. Some careers that offer entry-level criminal justice jobs with plenty of opportunity to move up the ranks.
Careers for people who hold criminal justice degrees include:
- Forensic Science Technician
- Homeland Security
- DEA Agent
- Forensic Accountant
- Private Investigator
- Substance Abuse Counselor
- Bounty Hunter
Many law enforcement agencies offer entry-level criminal justice jobs to graduates in order train graduates to think and function in a way that’s in line with how the agency operates. You can increase your employability by combining the major with a complimentary minor such as computer studies.
Can I Combine Degree Programs?
Yes, you can minor in an area of study that complements your criminal justice studies. Both public and private employers want to hire people who are trained to track criminals and their activities. If you enjoy working with computers along with seeking out malevolent actors, you can combine computer studies with your criminal justice degree education to focus your career working in cybersecurity. Another option is to get your bachelors degree in criminal justice with a minor in law, then go to law school to become a criminal defense attorney or work in the public sector as a prosecutor. Last, but not least, if you want to work in the area of forensics, you can elect to take forensic classes in accounting or as an investigator. For more ideas of what kind of roles are available for this type of degree, search “criminal justice jobs near me” and look at the search results to get an idea of what kind of jobs are available.
Make sure to talk to an advisor about your plans to combine degrees. The advisor can help you accomplish your goal of a major and a minor, or a dual major degree that employers will take seriously.
Should I Earn an Advanced Degree to Improve My Career Prospects?
The criminal justice degree is available at all degree levels and certificate. You can earn an associate’s degree to start your criminal justice career, then return to school to earn higher degrees. It’s possible to earn a doctorate in criminal justice and gain access to roles that are more difficult to get with lesser degrees. You may also start out in one area of criminal justice, but find out it’s not what you want, and decide that going back to school can help you enter into another area of the criminal justice field. Earning an advanced degree helps you access the different types of criminal justice careers you’re seeking for career satisfaction.
Before you decide to take on a criminal justice degree program, ask yourself what you want out of your career. The primary criminal justice degree benefits involve helping the community become a better place, management of criminal populations, working within the legal system, and identifying and reacting to criminal activity. The work can be hard and demanding, but ultimately rewarding. Starting out with earning an associates degree in criminal justice can give you the stepping stone you need to gain experience that helps you decide the progression of your education. You can always enroll in online criminal justice degree programs while you’re working, and earn your bachelors for career advancement.
How Much Can I Earn on Average With a Criminal Justice Degree?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for police and detectives was $67,290 a year. This is one of the highest paying careers for people who have earned a criminal justice degree, and many law enforcement agencies hire people who have earned an associates degree at a minimum. The lowest paying field is the private security with an average salary of $31,080 per year. However, because private security hires people with high school diplomas or GED, someone who has an associates degree in criminal justice may start at a higher level of pay and quickly rise to positions with increased responsibility and more pay.
Location always plays a role in the average salary of these and other criminal justice careers. The cost of living, demand for employees, and experience level all affect how much you’ll actually earn after graduation.