Why A Career in Criminal Justice is a Great Fit For Veterans

As a veteran, you may find that many criminal justice careers offer a successful transition to civilian life. These jobs often feature striking similarities to military roles, as they require exceptional problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills.

Jobs in criminal justice also feature competitive salaries, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting the median salary for police officers and detectives as $63,380 per year. The BLS also projects a healthy 7% growth rate in the field over the next 10 years.

The median salary for police officers and detectives is $63,380 per year. BLS

Many police departments, private security organizations, and state and federal agencies place a premium on past military service when considering applicants for criminal justice jobs. After all, the military offers training well suited to these roles. Veterans tend to possess the resilience, demeanor, and interpersonal skills critical to success in criminal justice, and employers love to hire individuals with these characteristics.

If you wish to continue serving your country and making a positive impact on the world around you once you leave the military, consider careers in criminal justice. This field has become a magnet for dedicated veterans seeking to leverage their knowledge, skills, and training into dynamic career opportunities.

Transferable Skills

The training you receive in the military provides you with key skills that align well with many criminal justice careers for veterans. Specifically, you may need to draw on critical thinking, communication, resilience, teamwork, and problem-solving in a criminal justice job. The list below includes a few skills common to both the military and law enforcement:

Military Skills That Relate to Criminal Justice

Critical ThinkingMany criminal justice careers call for this skill, as professionals may need to consider numerous options and find creative solutions to problems.
CommunicationCriminal justice jobs often require clear two-way communication with coworkers and community members to investigate issues and address conflict.
Problem-SolvingBoth military and criminal justice professionals must draw on their problem-solving skills every day. The skill is especially valuable when resolving conflicts and solving crimes.
ResilienceSuccess in a criminal justice career often means persisting during difficult times and when facing substantial challenges. Law enforcement officers must forge on in these situations.
TeamworkBoth criminal justice and military professionals must work together to achieve their goals. They need good communication, interpersonal skills, and trust.

Similar Structure

Several key similarities link military and criminal justice careers, making law enforcement a good fit for many veterans. First, they both follow a similar rank structure, sharing titles like sergeant, lieutenant, and captain. As you advance in both careers, you take on more responsibility and oversight of your fellow soldiers and officers, respectively. Ranks do differ somewhat; in the military, colonel and general represent the highest ranks, and in criminal justice, chief of police does.

Police officers and soldiers both tend to build a strong sense of camaraderie within their units, as they often must work together in challenging and sometimes life-threatening situations.

You may also find similar cultures in the military as you do in criminal justice degree jobs. Police officers and soldiers both tend to build a strong sense of camaraderie within their units, as they often must work together in challenging and sometimes life-threatening situations.

Some military jobs offer especially effective training for future criminal justice careers. Military members who served as military police, for example, possess the specific training and skills that prepare them well for jobs as civilian law enforcement officers.

Equivalent Civilian Positions

Because so many criminal justice civilian jobs for veterans relate closely to positions in the military, veterans may find the transition to law enforcement, corrections, or security fairly seamless. The criminal justice careers listed below all feature similar responsibilities and requirements to their military equivalents (and some notable differences).

Police Officer

Similar to the position of military police, these professionals enforce laws, protect individuals, respond to emergencies, and prevent criminal activity. However, this criminal justice career differs from the work of MPs in that police officers deal mostly with civilians rather than military personnel, which requires a different approach than an MP might take.

Corrections Officer

This job, found in both the military and civilian life, involves monitoring individuals held in custody for committing a variety of crimes or violations. In the military, this usually means dealing with incarcerated service members; civilian corrections officers work with offenders from the general population. Both positions may include providing rehabilitation services to inmates.

Police Detectives

Similar to military investigations agents, police detectives examine potential crimes, find and review evidence, and determine the individuals at fault. While investigations agents typically look into crimes and violations committed by service members and military organizations, detectives often must visit crime scenes and gather evidence on crimes committed by civilians.

Take the First Steps Towards Obtaining a Criminal Justice Career

Getting a bachelor’s degree can help you qualify for entry-level criminal justice jobs across a variety of areas. For example, you could apply to become a police officer, state trooper, corrections officer, private security agent, or probation officer right after you graduate. This resource offers valuable information on criminal justice careers, degree programs, and employment outlook information.

Explore More Careers in Criminal Justice

You can qualify for dozens of criminal justice jobs when you secure an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree in the field. For example, many graduates go on to become bailiffs, border agents, game wardens, parole officers, police officers, and security specialists. Check out this helpful resource to explore all the options available to military veterans.