Criminal justice careers can be challenging, but they can also be very fulfilling for the right person. Jobs in the criminal justice sector include those in police, courts, and jails, among others.
Workers in the criminal justice system can be found in jurisdictions all over the country, including local police forces, federal agencies, jails, and courts. They keep the streets safe and patrol them as well. Jobs in the criminal justice system often necessitate advanced degrees in areas such as investigation, forensics, psychology, or finance.
Our top 10 list of criminal justice careers delves into typical duties, salary ranges, and educational prerequisites for a wide range of positions in the field. We also provide a list of careers ordered by salary, from highest to lowest.
Best criminal justice careers
Junior legal assistant
A lawyer acts as the supervisor of a junior legal assistant. The team’s primary objectives are recordkeeping and organization, research, and writing. Entry-level positions as junior legal assistants often lead to higher positions in the legal field or in related fields like criminal justice if the assistant continues their education.
Affidavits, contracts, and wills are just some of the legal documents that paralegals draft. A paralegal’s duties typically include communicating with clients, lawyers, and other legal professionals. Helping clients get ready for trial is an important part of this.
Officers of the law are responsible for keeping the peace and protecting citizens. Officers can find work in a wide range of jurisdictions, from city and county departments to state and federal agencies. Officers, depending on their rank, may be required to handle a wide range of responsibilities, from responding to calls for help to making arrests and filing reports. Officers in patrol shifts are responsible for responding to calls for service in their communities, directing traffic, and keeping an eye on the roads and highways to make sure everyone is obeying the law.
Specialists in forensics collaborate with forensic scientists to investigate and assess physical evidence gathered at crime scenes. Chemical, physical, microscopic, and instrumental methods of evidence analysis are frequently used by forensic experts. Expert forensic investigators often use substances such as blood, urine, drugs, fibers, paint, and even gun residue to piece together the pieces of a case.
Resource conservation officer
Resource officers, also known as resource conservation officers, typically work for the government’s Department of Natural Resources or another similar agency to ensure the safety of the public and protect the environment. A resource officer’s duties include conducting patrols in natural areas, enforcing environmental policies, conducting investigations into possible law violations, filing reports and citations, and providing testimony in legal proceedings. In addition to protecting ecosystems, animals, and plants, resource officers also keep environmental records and aid injured wildlife.
Information Security Officer
The job of an organization’s information security officer is to safeguard its data by enforcing stringent online safety measures. Security administrators set up and oversee tools to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. Users are also provided with training on how to access secure data by information security officers. When a data breach occurs, they launch an investigation and make changes to the system to make it more resilient to future attacks. A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or a closely related field, such as criminal justice, is required for this position.
Homicide detectives look into murders and other violent crimes. They document their investigations through written reports, which detail the evidence they gathered at the crime scene, the suspects they interviewed, and the evidence against them. Detectives investigating homicides often collaborate with DAs to file formal charges. A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, criminology, or a related field is typically required for a homicide detective position, in addition to several years of experience in law enforcement.
Fraud is uncovered and investigated by forensic accountants. They analyze financial evidence and testify as experts in court as part of their jobs in insurance, banking, and law enforcement. Forensic accountants often use analytical software to unearth fraud in the case of white-collar crimes like embezzlement, money laundering, or hiding assets. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in accounting or a related field (such as forensic accounting, finance, or criminal justice) is typically required for employment.
Computer Forensic Specialist
Specialists in computer forensics are trained to extract information and evidence from electronic devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets. To restore lost data and fix damaged files, they use special software and cyber security methods. Experts in computer forensics are employed by law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes, compile evidence, and report their findings in court. Typically, a bachelor’s degree in either computer science or criminal justice is required of those who work in computer forensics.
Through scientific analysis, forensic chemists aid coroners and medical examiners in establishing fatality causes. They examine chemical reports, test evidence, and conduct toxicology studies. Additionally, forensic chemists work on methods to separate drugs from samples. Forensic chemists are experts in chemistry and toxicology and must be able to use a variety of instruments for analysis. A forensic chemist’s education level should be at least a bachelor’s, if not a master’s, in chemistry or a closely related field.
An intelligence analyst is a professional who gathers information from a variety of reliable sources, evaluates it, and then conveys their findings to government or corporate decision-makers through reports, presentations, or other means. Their typical duties include gathering and organizing information sources and keeping an eye on online discussion threads, forums, and the like.
You may associate private investigators with crime dramas, but there’s a good reason why the profession is considered highly rewarding. This position could be ideal for you if you enjoy investigating mysteries, solving problems, and talking to people.
A private investigator cooperates with law enforcement and, if necessary, gathers evidence that can be presented in court. This entails working on cases involving criminal law. Private investigators, on the other hand, frequently work in the private and financial sectors to keep tabs on the activities of an individual or group.
A criminal profiler is an expert at identifying criminals through the application of scientific methods and extensive training. Their primary responsibility is to analyze and compare information about crimes and criminals in order to develop a picture of a possible offender. Investigators gather information from victims, witnesses, and crime scenes to form hypotheses. Criminal profilers consult with law enforcement, investigate crime scenes, and conduct in-depth research in order to identify repeat offenders and other repeat offenders.
To write news stories, investigative reporters conduct in-depth, often lengthy research and analysis. Investigative journalists are responsible for gathering information, analyzing it, and reporting it to the public. Journalists who specialize in investigative reporting are tasked with learning the ins and outs of a story and communicating that information to the general public. When reporting on an investigation, journalists must ensure that their coverage is thorough and objective.
Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are highly skilled professionals who are dedicated to serving the public. The FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, is extremely competitive to enter, but graduates have a promising career path.
Federal Bureau of Investigation agents go after those who break federal law, such as those who commit Medicare fraud or cross state lines.
Intelligence analysts, surveillance team members, forensic accountants, and language professionals are just a few of the diverse careers available to FBI agents. FBI agents are required to hold a bachelor’s degree. Most people advance their careers by earning master’s degrees in fields directly related to them.
Auditors in the financial sector check businesses for compliance with financial regulations. Evidence of “white-collar” crimes like embezzlement, money laundering, and other fraudulent activities can often be found by carefully combing through financial records in a criminal justice context. Forensic accountants are frequently involved in this line of work for financial examiners.
Most employers require a bachelor’s degree in business or a closely related field from candidates seeking financial examiner positions. Some auditors choose to further their education and earn credentials like the CPA designation.
Transit and Railroad Police
Police officers who specialize in transit and railroad security patrol areas such as train stations and airports. Users, workers, and passengers are the primary focus of these measures.
Police in the transit system may question passengers for identification or remove trespassers from the premises. People who commit minor thefts or robberies on the premises may also be apprehended.
Criminal Justice Professors
Professors at the university level play a pivotal role in the criminal justice field because many careers in the field now require or strongly recommend a bachelor’s degree. Professors in the field of criminal justice perform many of the same functions as teachers in other disciplines.
They create lessons and give homework to students. In addition to advising and instructing criminal justice majors, these professionals also teach courses in the field.
Professors in the field of criminal justice are typically seasoned practitioners. Many are either no longer actively employed in the criminal justice sector or have retired from one of the listed occupations.
Fish and Game Warden
The role of fish and game wardens can be compared to that of outdoor law enforcement officers. They are responsible for enforcing regulations on watercraft, game, and fish. They do things like search and rescue operations and look into complaints about inappropriate outdoor recreation in addition to their regular patrols of fishing and hunting areas.
Wildlife biologists and natural resource managers are common backgrounds for fish and game officers.
A criminologist is a sociological expert. Criminologists focus on crime patterns and crime prevention, while forensic psychologists profile individuals. They collect sociological data and collaborate in “think tanks” to develop strategies for crime prevention. The work of criminologists can be seen when new security cameras are placed in high-crime areas. It’s impossible to keep track of crimes that were never committed, but their work may be responsible for preventing more crimes than any other criminal justice worker. However, it remains a pivotal field in the field of criminal justice.
Professors in the field of criminal justice are the only ones required to have one. Most law enforcement agencies do not require them to meet any physical standards. Furthermore, they can become educators without holding a Ph.D. A master’s degree is usually all that’s required for a professor to teach at a university. Some people go into criminal justice because they want a glamorous life of preventing crime, but this is a role that the next generation of criminal justice experts will need to fill.
United States border security is handled by customs officers. They function to prevent illegal entry of people, drugs, weapons, and even human beings. Every day, border patrol agents prevent criminals from entering or leaving the country. The enforcement of immigration laws is a complex task that calls for extensive training and background in law enforcement. There is always a need for more customs officers because there are so many miles of border to patrol.
Firefighters may not have specialized training in criminal law. When a fire breaks out, it is their responsibility to extinguish it and rescue anyone who may be in danger. However, fire investigators step in once the blaze has been extinguished. These folks show up at the scene of a fire and try to figure out what happened. The cause is often an electrical system or appliance malfunction or a simple accident. In other cases, however, criminal charges are filed due to intentional arson. A fire investigator’s scientific inquiry is crucial to solving these cases.
Is a Master’s in Criminal Justice Worth It?
Many doors will open for you after you earn your master’s degree in criminal justice. A master’s degree not only makes it possible to enter a wider variety of fields, but also to advance one’s career within organizations like the FBI.
Expertise in a specific area, such as forensics, special investigations, or profiling, can be gained through further education. Those who have earned a master’s degree have a greater chance of success financially than their peers who have not.
Is a Criminal Justice Degree Right For Me?
When considering a career in criminal justice, one has many options to choose from. Working in the field allows you to respond to crimes in progress and collect evidence. You could follow your curiosity and pursue a career analyzing evidence at crime scenes and in labs. You could also choose to work in an office that specializes in assisting people in making positive life changes after a conviction.
Criminal justice is a fantastic major to pursue because of the abundance of well-paying job opportunities it can lead to. The criminal justice program is a great stepping stone to further education and a lucrative career, even though many of these positions require additional training and degrees. A degree in criminal justice may not guarantee a six-figure salary, but it can pave the way there.