What can you do with a criminal justice degree?
Jobs in criminal justice are demanding, but the rewards of serving your fellow citizens are unparalleled.
As a criminal justice major, you have the unique opportunity to get a job as a real-life equivalent of the mythical superheroes and crime-fighting good guys that populate plenty of Hollywood blockbusters. But in the real world, criminal justice careers can also offer you a certain sense of job security—after all, justice always needs to be served.
Monster rounded up 10 great criminal justice jobs using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and PayScale.com. Cape and boots not required.
What you’d do: Corrections managers supervise employees at a prison or other correctional facility. This mid-level role requires working with supervisors as well as supporting staffers, in addition to dealing directly with inmates in the facility. Corrections managers are responsible for ensuring frontline security and safety for workers and inmates, and overall administration.
What you'd need: A bachelor’s degree and several years of work experience is generally a minimum expectation.
What you’d make: $42,439 per year
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What you’d do: FBI agents’ roles include investigating federal crimes, organized crime and cybercrime, as well as combating terrorism. Agents can be stationed in the U.S. or overseas.
What you'd need: A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice—with at least a 3.0 GPA—plus three years of relevant work experience are only the first steps for the rigorous process of becoming an FBI agent. Candidates must also be at least 23 years old, and will face tough interviews, background checks, personality profiles and physical standards.
What you’d make: $63,323 per year
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What you’d do: Forensic psychologists’ evaluations can be used by courts to consider factors such as a suspect’s mental competency for trial or risk of committing additional crimes if released from custody. Their work and observations also can come into play in civil cases or on broader issues about mental health issues in relation to the court system.
What you'd need: Your bachelor’s degree in criminal justice would need to be supplemented with a master’s in psychology for this role.
What you’d make: $72,580 per year
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What you’d do: Police officers patrol and respond to incidents as needed, while seeking to keep the peace on the streets. It’s a challenging job that combines the need for soft skills, hard physicality and life-or-death decisions, but the rewards—including camaraderie and knowing you’re serving your community—are ample.
What you’d need: Educational requirements vary, but a college degree is usually enough. U.S. citizenship is required, and candidates generally must be at least 21; after that come physical and personal qualifications and then training in a police academy.
What you’d make: $60,270 per year
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What you’d do: Private investigators look into whatever issues their clients bring to them—for example, running informal background checks or searching for missing persons. Their work can involve personal, financial or legal matters.
What you'd need: There generally are no formal education requirements beyond a high school diploma; usually the emphasis is on work experience, including in law enforcement or the military. Nearly all states require licensing.
What you’d make: $45,610 per year
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Learn more about government careers.
Emergency management coordinator
What you’d do: In this role, you would prepare plans and procedures for responding to natural disasters and other emergencies as well as lead the response during and after. Most emergency management coordinators work for state or local governments, but you can also find jobs at hospitals and nonprofit organizations.
What you’d need: This mid-to-senior level role will require you to have multiple years of experience in emergency response, disaster planning or public administration.
What you’d make: $53,311 per year
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What you’d do: Essentially financial detectives, forensic accountants sift through account records, calculate assets, assemble timelines of financial activity and gather evidence of possible wrongdoing to assist in legal cases like bankruptcies, embezzlement, insurance claims and fraud.
What you’d need: A bachelor’s degree with a strong focus in accounting is required. Most employers also expect applicants to be a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).
What you’d make: $64,108 per year
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Crime scene investigator
What you’d do: In this position, you would aid police and detectives in their investigations by collecting and analyzing evidence from crime scenes.
What you’d need: Many crime scene investigators are police officers, but your bachelor’s degree—preferably with some science background—should be sufficient to get a job.
What you’d make: $56,320 per year
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What you’d do: A career in social services could mean helping poor families with money, child or food assistance, conducting drug abuse prevention programs or counseling incarcerated minors.
What you’d need: In addition to your bachelor’s degree, you’ll want to get some work experience under your belt, perhaps through a volunteer program or internship. Although not required for entry into social work, some employers prefer candidates who also hold a master’s degree.
What you’d make: $45,900 per year
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What you’d do: As a paralegal, you would support lawyers by maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research and drafting documents.
What you’d need: Although not always required, a certificate in paralegal studies can supplement your bachelor’s degree.
What you’d make: $48,810 per year
Find paralegal jobs on Monster.