Criminal justice is a field where you get to explore every aspect of the law, crime and the justice system. You get to study and learn the law in and out, learn how the judicial system works and all the ins and outs of the police department and other law enforcement agencies.
So, thinking of pursuing a career in Criminal Justice or wondering what you can do with a criminal justice degree? Criminal justice is an interdisciplinary major so it includes learning about law, psychology, sociology, public administration and more. This widens your options quite a bit in terms of the fields you can pursue a career in, which can include police studies, cybersecurity, social justice, homeland security and more.
What Jobs Can You Get With a Criminal Justice Degree?
Police officers are employees of the law. They are generally in charge of catching criminals, investigating, preventing and detecting crime, protecting the public and maintaining public order.
It is not necessary for one to have a Bachelor’s degree if you wish to enter the police force. Usually, a high school diploma or college degree is enough. However, you would need a degree if you wish to advance levels of lieutenant or sergeant.
Salary: ~63K a year
Probation officers work with and monitor offenders who are given probation, to prevent them from committing new crimes. Their job is mostly to follow through with anything the court assigns to them and to investigate the offender’s criminal history prior to their sentencing. Most probation officers work with adults or juveniles.
In some jurisdictions, probation officers are called community supervision officers.
Salary: ~40K – 50K a year
Crime Scene Investigator
Crime scene investigators are responsible for identifying, collecting, preserving and packaging physical evidence at crime scenes. They assist in analyzing the evidence and information to help convict a person of a crime. Collection of evidence can include fingerprints, DNA samples or photographic evidence.
Crime scene investigators must be keen about details and have to also prepare reports and documentation for their findings. They may also be called to testify at trials and give testimony on physical evidence present.
Salary: ~55K a year
A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent works for the federal government and performs various roles dealing with investigating federal crimes and maintaining security within the United States. Agents may be expected to gather intelligence on illegal work, make arrests, execute a search warrant, and testify in a federal court to name a few.
Being an FBI agent can be a tough job as agents are always on call and can be transferred from place to place based on the government’s needs. The work can also be tiring, challenging, as well as exciting. One has to go through extensive background checks and physical fitness tests to be considered as a candidate.
Salary: starting from ~50K-60K a year
The main job of a criminologist is to examine all the different aspects of crime, and find ways to prevent and reduce criminal behaviour. They use psychology and understanding of human nature to find the root causes of criminal behaviour in people. Criminologists gather stats and try to identify patterns in crimes so they can better prevent them or predict when the next crime will be committed.
Criminologists work closely with law enforcement professionals, as well as politicians or authoritative community members to develop policies to help reduce crimes and ensure that criminals are treated fairly.
Salary: ~50K a year
Can’t figure out what career path to take with a criminal justice degree? Consider becoming a homicide detective. Homicide detectives investigate murders and try to catch those who commited the crime. They work with other police officers and must gather evidence and try to figure out how the crime was committed, who committed it, and their motive.
A homicide detective’s work hours can be long and the job can be stressful and demanding, but they can make a real impactful difference in the communities in which they live by keeping it safe.
Salary: ~62K a year
The practice of forensic psychology involves the psychological evaluation and assessment of those involved with the legal system ie. threat assessment for schools or screening of law enforcement applicants.These assessments are used in courts to consider mental competency for trials.
Investigations, research studies, consultations and expert witness courtroom testimonies are also part of being a forensic psychologist.
Salary: ~65K a year
DNA analysts examine DNA samples to identify and link potential suspects to crimes. They are responsible for conducting tests on DNA samples by following strict protocols, and identifying if they find a match. DNA analysts usually work in forensic crime labs, or police station crime labs.
Salary: ~55K – 60K a year
A paralegal is someone who assists lawyers in building cases, maintaining and organizing files, and conducting legal research. They also may be required to make background searches as well as interview clients. Paralegals possess a deep understanding of criminal law on the federal and state levels.
Salary: ~50K a year
As you can see, a criminal justice degree can take your career in many different directions. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of some of the career paths you can take if you were hunting for the answer to the question of ‘what can you do with a criminal justice degree’.