The field of criminal justice is incredibly broad, which means the number of opportunities that are out there, at both bachelor’s degree and master’s degree levels, in terms of jobs, is equally broad. This makes it an interesting field for people with a variety of personal skills. If you are interested in both criminal justice and in earning a lot of money, what would be the best options out there for you?
1. Crime Scene Cleaners – $35,000
Crime scene cleaners come in and remove the blood and other substances left behind after a crime has been committed and all the evidence has been collected. While a starting salary of $35,000 may not sound like much, this can climb up to $80,000 if the cleaner deals with bio-hazards.
2. U.S. Marshal – $38,511
U.S. marshals are the official enforcer of the rules implemented by the U.S. federal courts. They capture criminals on the run, serve arrest warrants, oversee the witness protection program, and transport prisoners. It is an incredibly dangerous job, and one that most say is not salaried highly enough.
3. Corrections Officers – $42,000
As a corrections officer, you will work inside prisons and jails to make sure that inmates, visitors, and personnel are able to remain safe.
4. Probation Officers – $43,862
Probation officers work with offenders who have been released from jail or prison, or who have had their sentences commuted. They ensure that they can re-enter society and perform community service, and that the chance of recidivism is reduced.
5. Secret Service Agents – Between $43,964 and $74,891
As a secret service agent, your role will be mainly to protect high level government officials, including the President of the United States. Furthermore, you will work closely with other professionals to help prevent crimes against the government.
6. Forensic Scientists – $54,990
In this role, you will be responsible for analyzing evidence, such as hair, fibers, fingerprints, and DNA, collected during crime scene investigations.
7. Crime Scene Technicians – $55,600
Crime scene technicians are responsible for recovering and recording evidence found at crime scenes. This evidence is then taken to laboratories, where it is handled by forensic scientists.
8. Fire Investigators – $56,000
This role is one that is on the fringes of the criminal justice system. As a fire investigator, your role is to determine the cause of a fire. Fire investigators often work for insurance companies, helping them to determine whether there was an accidental or deliberate cause of the fire.
9. Corrections Managers – $60,000
As a corrections manager, you will oversee the running of a prison or jail. Your role is to make sure that employees are safe, as are the inmates. Most corrections managers originally started their careers as correctional officers and then worked up their way through the ranks.
10. Investigative Reporters – $64,089
Investigative reporters are journalists that focus specifically on news relating to crime. This can be anything from covering large-scale terror attacks to petty theft, and from genocide and war crimes to crimes of passion.
11. Police Officers – $65,000
As a police officer, you will dedicate your life to “serve and protect” the community in which you work. This means solving existing crimes and preventing further crimes. Police officers also have to, often literally, place themselves in the line of fire.
12. Customs Officials – $66,000
As a customs official, you will help to protect the borders of our country. This means preventing illegal immigration, trafficking of drugs, weapons, or people, and so on.
13. Security Managers – $69,000
If a property requires security, then it also needs a security manager. As a manager, you will generally lead a team of other security agents. You may own your own security company, or work on managing a network of properties within a security system. As a security manager, you can work in any type of industry and any type of location, which is what makes this such an interesting career.
14. Police Identification and Records Officers – $70,000
As a police identification and records officer, you will maintain records relating to evidence, such as fingerprints, seizures during raids, and more. Your role has to do with maintaining the proper archives, which can then be used as evidence during trials.
15. College Professors – $72,000
As a college professor, you will teach the next generation of criminal justice professionals. So long as you teach at college level, you do not need to complete a doctorate degree. An added benefit of this career is that it means being involved in criminal justice, without having to pass rigorous background and physical checks.
16. Criminologists – $74,000
A criminologist is a type of sociologist. They work on preventing crime and profiling types of crimes, rather than focusing on the psychology of the criminal, which is what a forensic psychologist looks at.
17. Financial Examiners – $79,000
These professionals focus on financial statements made by individuals and corporations. They are trained in both police techniques and mathematics, helping to find out if there is monetary fraud. They are often brought into law enforcement operations in order to provide evidence of financial fraud, including embezzlement, money laundering, and bribes.
18. CIA Agent – $81,623
As a CIA agent, you will use intelligence gathered from a variety of sources to focus on elements of national security. While glamorized by Hollywood movies, being a CIA agent does not always mean wearing suits and using gadgets.
19. Intelligence Analysts – $83,000
Intelligence analysts usually work behind a desk. They look at data and statistics to determine if there are any security risks, and, if so, where those are.
20. Forensic Psychologists – $84,000
Forensic psychologists are perhaps not traditionally classed as being involved in the criminal justice system, but they do tend to dip into it. Often, their expertise is called upon to determine whether or not someone is psychologically fit to stand trial.
21. Private Investigators – $93,000
A private investigator is not as glamorous as we are led to believe by the Hollywood movies. Most private investigators were detectives first.
22. University Criminal Justice Professors – $95,000
To become a criminal justice university professor, you will need to complete a doctorate degree in this field. This is what sets it apart from the college professor, who does not need such a high level of education. In this role, you will train the criminal justice professionals of tomorrow.
23. Judges – $104,000
Judges are responsible for leading a trial and ensuring that lawyers stick to the rules. They are also important decision makers, often having to make a verdict based on the presented evidence. Most of the time, judges started their career as a lawyer. To become a judge, you must be nominated before you can be appointed.
24. FBI Agents – $114,000
FBI agents are paid a lot because their jobs are very dangerous. It is a highly competitive field, and only the best of the best will make it to the training academy, let alone pass it. While it is one of the highest paid positions in the field of criminal justice, it is also a very lengthy one, requiring extensive education, training, background checks, examinations, and more.
25. Lawyers – $163,000
Lawyers are some of the top earners in the field of criminal justice. They can work anywhere, from small claims courts, to huge multi-district litigation. Those who earn the most tend to have their own firm, or who work for large firms. At this level, they can virtually set their own fees. Becoming a lawyer is an expensive and lengthy process, however.
As you can see, there are a lot of different career opportunities available for those with a criminal justice degree. In many cases, entry level positions do not attract the greatest salaries. However, there are tremendous growth opportunities, and salaries increase considerably with every step up the ladder. As such, a criminal justice degree is a very worthy investment.
- Careers in Criminal Justice. (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.criminaljusticedegreeschools.com/criminal-justice-careers/
- Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015 – Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary. (2016, Mar. 30) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251111.htm
- Occupational Outlook Handbook – Police and Detectives. (2015, Dec. 17) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm