Different Types of Jobs You Can Get With a Degree in Criminal Justice

Blake Lafond is a researcher and an assistant professor for Everest College. He received his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in public safety and criminal justice from Capella University in 2012. His areas of research include policing and gangs.

What kinds of jobs can I hold with a degree?

After you earn your education through criminal justice certification or a degree program, you will begin your search for criminal justice jobs. There is a wide variety of careers that you may qualify for, depending on the level of education that you have attained. Of course, there will be more careers for majors who have earned bachelors or masters degrees than there will be for someone who has less education, like a certificate or a criminal justice associate degree online.

As you think about different jobs for criminal justice majors, you should also consider whether you want to find jobs right away or pursue further education. Most students who earn degrees in this field do not immediately pursue careers. Instead, they eventually continue their education by earning graduate degrees in related fields. For that reason, the list of criminal justice degree jobs below includes careers with a degree and jobs that you can get with some additional education.

Police Officer

Police officers are among the jobs with a criminal justice degree that students think of most frequently because of their visibility in the community. Police officers regularly patrol certain areas and respond to emergency calls for help from citizens. They investigate suspicious activity and arrest criminal suspects. Some police officers specialize in specific types of criminal cases like narcotics, fraud or homicide.

To become a police officer, you must complete 6 months of intense training at a police academy. And though it is not required, it is recommended that you complete your associates degree, which takes about 2 years. Once they have gained some experience, police usually make about $53,500 per year working for local, county and state police departments.

Federal Special Agent

Federal agents investigate more serious offenses than the regular police, like organized crime, unsolved murders, drug trafficking and national security threats. Special agents collect evidence for lab analysis during their investigations and provide expert testimony in court.

To become a federal special agent, you need a 4-year bachelors degree and 2 to 3 years of experience in law enforcement. There are several agencies you could work for, including the CIA, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Therefore, your pay can vary according to your workplace, but you can expect a base salary of at least $43,440, which will increase over time as you gain experience.

Correctional Treatment Specialist

A correctional treatment specialist has a highly specialized criminal justice career that involves working with convicted criminal offenders in jails and prisons on a one-one-one basis. Treatment specialists evaluate individuals to assess whether they are ready to rejoin society without risk of committing more crimes. They also help former inmates adjust to society by providing them with job training, counseling and education.

The minimum amount of education required in this career is a bachelors degree, which takes 4 years. You can earn about $47,200 in this job.

Paralegal

Another career in criminal justice is a paralegal. These criminal justice professionals, who are also known as legal assistants, help lawyers and attorneys to prepare for their cases. They also perform administrative duties like taking notes at meetings, preparing legal documents, interviewing clients and filing documents. But although they perform some of the same functions as attorneys, they cannot offer legal advice to clients.

There are many ways to prepare for a paralegal career. The shortest route is a certificate, which takes about a year. But you can also earn associates degrees, which take 2 years, or bachelors degrees, which take 4 years. You can expect to make an average paralegal salary of about $46,700 while working at law firms or in the legal department of corporate businesses.

Attorney

Attorneys play a central role in the criminal justice system. They are responsible for prosecuting and defending suspected criminals in court and working on their behalf to negotiate plea bargains to avoid going to trial. In order to create arguments for prosecution or defense, they research legal issues to develop persuasive statements.

You have a long educational road ahead if you want to be an attorney. You will have to earn a bachelors degree and graduate from law school, which will take 7 to 8 years altogether. Attorneys also need to pass state bar exams before they can legally practice law. But all of this work tends to pay off, because you can earn an average salary of $112,800 in this position. As an attorney, you can work for the government or for private law firms.

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