Top Reasons to Pursue a Career in Criminal Justice

Pursuing a career in criminal justice appeals to learners who want to use their knowledge to create safer communities. The criminal justice system consists of law enforcement, courts, and corrections working together to decrease crime, seek justice, administer punishment, and rehabilitate offenders. These systems operate in unison to keep the public safe.

Pursuing a career in criminal justice appeals to learners who want to use their knowledge to create safer communities.

Learners entering the field find many available career options with good employment prospects. They might work as law enforcement officers, crime scene investigators, police dispatchers, detectives, cybersecurity experts, federal agents, criminologists, lawyers, emergency management directors, transit police, or fish and game wardens. With a continued need to keep the public safe in their communities and online, the industry’s projected employment growth is strong. In addition, criminal justice professionals report overall high job satisfaction in their careers. Individuals in these roles earn a median salary of $51,000, according to PayScale.

Criminal Justice Career Options

Many criminal justice career paths require prospective employees to have a bachelor’s degree. For instance, to work as a forensic science technician, an emergency management director, correctional treatment specialist, magistrate, game warden, or a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, applicants need a bachelor’s degree. In addition, while some police departments accept candidates with only a high school diploma, others require a degree at the associate or bachelor’s level.

Candidates with an associate degree are often prepared for entry-level roles in the criminal justice sector, such as a paralegal. On the other hand, arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators usually need advanced degrees. They typically earn a master’s or law degree in order to perform their duties. Learners keen on entering the criminal justice field should explore the education level needed for their desired career.

Criminal Justice Careers
CareerMedian SalaryJob Summary
Police and Detective$63,380Police officers and detectives protect lives and property and investigate crimes. They respond to emergency calls, secure potentially dangerous scenes, conduct traffic stops, obtain warrants, arrest suspects, prepare detailed reports, gather facts, assess evidence, and testify in court.
Arbitrator, Mediator, and Conciliator $62,270Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators act as neutral third parties in helping opposing sides to settle disputed issues outside of court. They facilitate communication between parties, assisting them in reaching an amicable solution. They also interview witnesses, settle procedural matters, clarify issues, and prepare settlement agreements for signature.
Emergency Management Director$74,420Emergency management directors prepare for and respond to emergencies. By having plans and procedures in place, they are prepared for natural disasters or other emergencies. They provide emergency response training for staff and volunteers. During an emergency, they endeavor to minimize community risks.
Probation Officer and Correctional Treatment Specialist$53,020Working with law offenders, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists provide social services to help rehabilitate those in their custody, on probation, or parole. They evaluate offenders to determine the best form of rehabilitation and often provide resources, such as job training. They also write reports and testify in court.
Private Detective and Investigator$50,090Private detectives and investigators offer many services that focus on locating information about legal, financial, and personal matters. They might find missing persons, investigate computer crimes, or verify backgrounds. They often conduct surveillance and review court records. However, they do not possess the same authority as police officers.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Making a Difference

Many people pursue criminal justice degree jobs to make a positive impact on their communities. They might do this by protecting lives, looking for forensic evidence, keeping people safe during a natural disaster, helping crime victims, or promoting fair practices in the justice system.

These professionals devote their careers to making a difference in the lives of others. For instance, lawyers often defend clients accused of a criminal offense so that they receive a fair trial. In addition, public defense attorneys represent low-income individuals who cannot afford legal representation. Information security analysts work to identify and prevent cybercrimes, thereby keeping private data secure. Criminologists determine what causes criminal behavior, with the hope of preventing it and keeping citizens safe. Some professionals in the criminal justice sector use specialized skills to help vulnerable populations, such as juveniles.

A Changing World

As technology expands and the world becomes more interconnected, the need for cybersecurity experts continues to grow. Since organizations regularly increase the amount of data they store online, much of it personal, and computer networks are becoming more complex, keeping information secure is more important than ever. Cybercrimes can be costly and have far-reaching negative effects. Therefore, governments and companies must prevent their data systems from being compromised.

Learners interested in a career in this fast-growing field with a positive job outlook might consider a criminal justice program that offers a cybersecurity concentration.

Career Growth

The job outlook for learners entering the criminal justice field is positive and projected to experience growth. As communities strive to keep their citizens safe and organizations focus on keeping personal data out of the hands of cyber criminals, the need for individuals ready to take on roles within the industry will continue to expand. In addition, local governments are becoming increasingly concerned about emergency preparedness. Whether you’re interested in working as a police officer, mediator, detective, emergency management director, or probation officer, graduating from a criminal justice program opens the door to many opportunities.

Engaging Work Environment

Some jobs require individuals to devote entire shifts to fieldwork, where circumstances frequently change, while others perform routine duties from their offices.

Because of the many positions available to those entering the industry, criminal justice graduates can explore several employment opportunities. Some jobs require individuals to devote entire shifts to fieldwork, where circumstances frequently change, while others perform routine duties from their offices.

Police officers typically work in the field, where they experience varying and often dangerous situations. On the other hand, arbitrators and mediators usually spend most of their time in offices meeting with clients and handling paperwork. When a natural disaster strikes, emergency management directors might arrive onsite to coordinate relief and safety efforts. While probation officers often meet with offenders in an office setting, at times, their duties take them to unsafe areas. The work environment of private investigators varies by case. They divide their time between fieldwork and desk duties.

Explore Criminal Justice Degrees

Whether a prospective student is seeking an associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or a doctorate in criminal justice, they can explore various programs of study, many of them online. Since industry employers often seek job candidates with a degree from an accredited college, learners will find these programs beneficial.

Explore Criminal Justice Careers

Once prospective students decide to embark upon a program of study in criminal justice, they can pursue many career path choices. For instance, they might study to become paralegals, crime scene investigators, public safety administrators, detectives, or forensic psychologists. In addition, they might focus on cybercrime, criminal justice, or legal studies.