What Can You Do With a Criminal Justice Degree? 8 Careers & Salaries Revealed

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Criminal Justice Degree Careers & Salaries Revealed
Criminal Justice Degree Careers & Salaries Revealed

A criminal justice degree covers a wide range of aspects related to the justice system, including the local, state, and federal court systems, law enforcement and policing, and corrections. This field is interdisciplinary and utilizes knowledge from criminology, psychology, sociology, political science, history, and other areas to comprehend criminal behavior and its underlying factors.

The aim of studying criminal justice is to comprehend and contribute to the safe and effective functioning of society. Graduates with a criminal justice degree have various career options that demand experience and expertise in areas such as the court system, law enforcement, and corrections. Some of these opportunities include crime prevention, victim advocacy, private investigation work, forensics, and working in jails, prisons, and other correctional/rehabilitation facilities.

Upon completing their undergraduate degree, many criminal justice graduates start careers in law enforcement, corrections, or community programs while others pursue additional schooling, including law school. This article will discuss some of the popular and exciting careers available to criminal justice graduates, along with anticipated salaries for new employees.

Criminal Justice Degree: Careers & Salaries Revealed

Private Investigator

Average salary: $53,320

Private investigators are hired by individuals, attorneys, private companies, or government agencies to gather information and conduct fact-finding activities. They might work in private detective firms, police departments, or be self-employed. Private investigators need to be familiar with legal limits, and any evidence they collect illegally cannot be used in court.

Their services include conducting background checks, finding missing persons, investigating potential crimes or leads in cold cases, and accessing information that is difficult to locate. A degree in criminal justice and apprenticeship under a veteran PI is a good foundation for a career in this field. Most states require proper licensing for PIs.

Correctional Officer

Average salary: $47,410

Correctional officers oversee the daily lives of those who have been arrested, are awaiting trial, or have been sentenced to serve time in prisons or jails owned by local, state, or federal government or private companies. Working conditions vary greatly based on the facility and its level of security.

While the job can be challenging, government-employed correctional officers receive great healthcare and retirement benefits.

State Trooper

The State Trooper profession involves enforcing traffic laws and ensuring safety on local and state roads and highways. This includes patrolling, issuing tickets, responding to accidents, and conducting investigations to gather more information about the incident. In some areas, state troopers act as backup for the local police force. Education and training requirements vary by state, but all state troopers need to be quick thinkers, calm under pressure, and highly skilled. The average salary for a state trooper is $61,000, and there are opportunities for promotions and salary increases.

FBI Agent

FBI agents have a critical role in protecting the country from crime. Their duties range from conducting fieldwork to doing research in offices. FBI agents must be prepared for the high-stakes and secrecy that comes with the job, which often requires them to work irregular hours and travel on short notice. Agents conduct investigations by interviewing witnesses, working with local police, arresting suspects, and collecting evidence. The screening and training process for becoming an FBI agent is rigorous, and entry-level salaries start at $52,000, while mid-career to senior-level agents earn an average base salary of $80,000.

Parole/Probation Officer

Probation and Parole Officers have important roles in monitoring convicted criminals who have received a probation or parole sentence. Probation officers help offenders receive the necessary resources and services to aid in their rehabilitation and prevent them from committing additional crimes. They also maintain frequent communication with the individuals they supervise and their families to ensure they follow their probation requirements. Parole officers work with criminals released from prison to help prevent them from reoffending. Both positions play critical roles in reducing recidivism rates, and their salaries average at $55,690.

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Border Control Agent/Customs Inspector

The average salary for Border Control Agents/Customs Inspectors is $85,850. These professionals are employed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to safeguard the country by ensuring that individuals and goods entering the United States pose no danger. Border control agents and customs inspectors work at land and water borders to prevent contraband from entering the country while also welcoming legitimate travelers and goods. Entry-level workers can expect to earn about $66,700, but those who receive promotions can make upwards of $125,000, in addition to great benefits and job security.

Crime Prevention Specialist

The average salary for Crime Prevention Specialists is $46,900. Unlike police officers, these individuals work to prevent crimes before they occur. They play a dual role in their communities by developing crime prevention programs and educating people on self-defense and personal safety. Crime prevention specialists evaluate communities and create unique programming and initiatives, such as youth crime prevention programs or emergency action plans.

Crime Scene Investigator

Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) earn an average salary of $59,150. These professionals use various technologies and techniques to inspect crime scenes and collect physical evidence that may provide clues about a crime. Government-employed CSIs can earn upwards of $100,000. Their analyses and qualifications are highly respected, and they play a vital role in both prosecuting the guilty and exonerating the innocent.

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