Careers in Criminal Justice
Whether you want to advance your criminal justice career or find a new job in the field, this page can help guide your research. It features educational requirements, salary information, job availability, an employment outlook table, and links to dozens of interviews, including exclusive videos with former King County Sheriff, Sue Rahr, and current Ada County Sheriff, Gary Raney.
Careers in criminal justice are found at the federal, state, county and local levels, as well as in the private sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2013, roughly 3 million workers were employed in the criminal justice field. This work can be categorized into law enforcement, corrections, forensic science, homeland security, private security, academia and legal services. Nearly 75 career profiles are featured in this guide that fall under the aforementioned broad categories.
Research Criminal Justice Careers
The following sortable table will help you compare education requirements, salary, and job availability for dozens of careers to pursue in the criminal justice field. Click on the arrows on the top row to sort the careers in ascending or descending order.
|Job Title||Area||Minimum Education Required*||Typical Education Achieved*||Number Employed in U.S. (Higher = Better)||Average Annual Openings||Average Salary|
|Bailiff||Legal||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||16240||540||$39840|
|Blood Spatter Analyst||Forensics||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||See Forensic Science Technician||See Forensic Science Technician||$55730|
|Computer Forensics||Forensics||Bachelor’s||Bachelor’s to Master’s||See Information Security Analyst||See Information Security Analyst||$89290|
|Conservation Officer||Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||See Fish and Game Warden||See Fish and Game Warden||$49400|
|Correctional Officer||Corrections||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||434870||14240||$43550|
|Correctional Treatment Specialist||Corrections||Bachelor’s||Bachelor’s to Master’s||86780||2360||$52380|
|Court Clerk||Legal||High School||Associate’s||122710||3380||$36950|
|Court Reporter||Legal||Postsecondary non-degree||Postsecondary non-degree||18590||550||$53010|
|Crime Lab Analyst||Forensics||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||See Forensic Technician||See Forensic Technician||$55730|
|Crime Scene Investigator||Forensics/Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||See Criminal Investigator||See Criminal Investigator||$77860|
|Criminal Investigator||Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||109230||2770||$77860|
|Criminal Law Paralegal||Legal||Associate’s||Associate’s to Bachelor’s||See Paralegal||See Paralegal||$50220|
|Emergency Management Director||Homeland Security||Bachelor’s||Bachelor’s to Master’s||9550||220||$64730|
|FBI Agent||Law Enforcement||Bachelor’s||Bachelor’s||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Fire Investigator||Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||11860||440||$57400|
|First-Line Supervisor of Correctional Officers||Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||44830||1800||$60970|
|First-Line Supervisor of Police and Detectives||Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||99860||3570||$82060|
|Fish and Game Warden||Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||6320||200||$49400|
|Forensic Accountant||Forensics||Bachelor’s||Bachelor’s to Master’s||N/A||N/A||$71040 2|
|Forensic Anthropologist||Forensics||Master’s||Master’s||N/A||N/A||$60230 3|
|Forensic Ballistics Expert||Forensics||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||See Forensic Science Technician||See Forensic Science Technician||$55730|
|Forensic Nursing||Forensics||Associate’s||Associate’s to Bachelor’s||N/A||N/A||$67930 4|
|Forensic Psychology||Forensics||Master’s||Doctorate||N/A||N/A||$73740 1|
|Forensic Science Technician||Forensics||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||12440||580||$55730|
|Fraud Investigator||Private Sector||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||See Private Investigator||See Private Investigator||$50780|
|Homicide Detective||Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||See Criminal Investigator||See Criminal Investigator||$77860|
|Information Security Analyst||Private Sector||Bachelor’s||Bachelor’s to Master’s||72670||3920||$89290|
|Juvenile Probation Officer||Corrections||Bachelor’s||Bachelor’s to Master’s||See Probation Officer||See Probation Officer||$52380|
|Narcotics Officer||Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||See Police Officer||See Police Officer||$57770|
|Paralegal||Legal||Associate’s||Associate’s to Bachelor’s||267030||9120||$50220|
|Parking Enforcement Worker||Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||9210||280||$36810|
|Police Officer||Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||636140||24530||$57770|
|Private Investigator||Private Sector||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||23390||1180||$50780|
|Probation Officer||Corrections||Bachelor’s||Bachelor’s to Master’s||86780||2360||$52380|
|Security Guard||Private Sector||High School||High School to Some College||1046420||29630||$27240|
|Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||Corrections||High School||High School to Master’s||80130||4720||$40920|
|Transit and Railroad Police||Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||4140||140||$57880|
|Transportation Security Screener||Homeland Security||High School||High School||47200||1470||$37130|
|United States Park Police||Law Enforcement||High School||High School to Bachelor’s||See Police Officer||See Police Officer||$57770|
|US Marshal||Law Enforcement||Bachelor’s||Bachelor’s to Master’s||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Victims Advocate||Law Enforcement||Bachelor’s||Bachelor’s to Master’s||N/A||N/A||$48370 5|
|Youth Correctional Counselor||Corrections||High School||High School to Master’s||See Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||See Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors||$40920|
1. Salary for Psychologists (salary data for forensic psychologists not available)
2. Salary for Accountants and Auditors (salary data for forensic accountant not available)
3. Salary for Anthropologists and Archeologists (salary data for forensic anthropologist not available)
4. Salary for Registered Nurses (salary data for forensic nurse not available)
5. Salary for Social Workers (salary data for victims advocate not available)
6. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment by Detailed Occupation
7. Bureau of Labor Statistics: National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates
8. * “High school” refers to a high school diploma or GED
Criminal Justice Career Interviews
Ada County Sheriff
Michael Welner, MD
Kitsap County Sheriff
Retired Rochester Police Department Deputy Chief
Exclusive CJDS Interview
Below is our entire interview with Sue Rahr, former King County Sheriff. Enjoy!
Criminal Justice Careers Outlook
The criminal justice career sector is one of the fastest growing in the United States. Across the nation, there is a continued, heightened focus on law enforcement, immigration, public safety and security, which has created a high demand. This growth is continuing into the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which estimates that police and detective employment will grow 10 percent through 2018. The bottom line: high-paying criminal justice jobs are available now and into the future.
Colleges and universities offer a number of criminal justice degrees and training programs, several of them designed specifically for working professionals. An education can conveniently be obtained through online programs, which provide specialized training and education at your fingertips — complete your classes online, at your own pace, and graduate with the knowledge you need to begin your job search or advance your criminal justice career.
Top Related Degrees for a Career in Criminal Justice
Top 6 Trending Career-Related Criminal Justice Search Phrases
The following career-related search phrases were our top six for the past 30 days. What does it mean? It means that these six search phrases are hot right now for our users – individuals who are looking to start or advance their careers in criminal justice.
Criminal Justice Career Centers
Visit our criminal justice career centers to learn all about specific careers in criminal justice and access our free informational resource pages. The following career fields offer promising job prospects, competitive pay, and are popular areas of study for college students.
Police Officer Career Center
Learn about the typical path to becoming a police officer as well as possible exceptions for previous experience. Research popular degrees that can help you get started in your law enforcement career. Visit law enforcement career pages from Homicide Detective to State Trooper to get an idea of what type of law enforcement career is of interest to you and how you might best approach the position. Read our Best Police Career Advice article, which features QA from 35 respected law enforcement officials. We have 17+ law enforcement interviews, from Sheriffs to FBI and Forensics specialists, and Gang Investigators. This career center features police department requirements by popular metro areas, State Trooper requirements, the top police blogs and more. Visit the Police Officer Degree and Career Center.
Homeland Security Career Center
The Department of Homeland Security was created after 9/11, with the mission of protecting the country’s citizens from domestic and foreign attacks. The Homeland Security Career Center give you more insight into this powerful government department and what career opportunities exist within. We specifically call out the divisions around the country that often lead to opportunities within the department (Immigration Enforcement, US Customs, and Border Enforcement), degrees that could be helpful for those careers, and schools that offer said programs. The Career Center talks about salary and benefits, career outlook, as well as related articles and the Top Homeland Security Blogs. Visit the Homeland Security Career Center.
Forensics Degree and Career Center
Learn about what it takes to start a career in Forensics. This career center has information on all the leading forensics career profiles like Computer Forensics, Forensic Accounting, Forensic Nursing, Forensic Psychology, and Forensic Science Technician. Each career profile also features related degrees from top schools offering programs in that field. Want to know more about Forensic Psychology? Read our exclusive interview with Forensic Psychiatrist Michael Welner, M.D., our other forensics articles, or visit the some of the forensic blogs we’ve compiled in our Top Forensics Blogs list. Visit the Forensics Degree and Career Center.
Corrections Career Center
Interested in a career or degree in the field of Corrections? Read about criminal justice careers that fall under the Corrections umbrella. Careers like Prison Warden, Substance Abuse Counselor, and Forensic Psychologist are featured – as well as more obvious ones such as Correctional Case Manager, Youth Correctional Officer, and many more. There are links to more than a dozen corrections-related articles, an in-depth interview on the state of California’s prisons, and a Q and A video clip with Sheriff Gary Raney. Visit the Corrections Degree and Career Center.
Criminal Justice Employment Outlook By State 1,2
CJDS’ view on employment outlook is bullish overall and consistent with the viewpoint of former King County Sheriff Sue Rahr, who noted in our recent interview with her that now is a best time to pursue a career in criminal justice and law enforcement. The economy is improving. A mass of retirements is pending from a hiring binge in the early 80s. As those events come together, those pursuing degrees in this field now will have ample opportunities upon graduation.
Rate (Sept 2014)
|CJDS View of State Prospects
for Public CJ Jobs
|Delaware||6.50%||Below Average||Poor||Below Average|
|D.C.||7.70%||Poor||Below Average||Below Average|
|Georgia||7.90%||Poor||Below Average||Below Average|
|Illinois||6.60%||Below Average||Poor||Below Average|
|Kentucky||6.70%||Below Average||Poor||Below Average|
|New Hampshire||4.30%||Excellent||Below Average||Good|
|New Jersey||6.50%||Average||Poor||Below Average|
|New Mexico||6.60%||Below Average||Good||Average|
|New York||6.20%||Average||Poor||Below Average|
|North Carolina||6.70%||Below Average||Average||Average|
|Ohio||5.60%||Good||Below Average||Below Average|
|Oregon||7.10%||Poor||Below Average||Below Average|
|South Carolina||6.60%||Below Average||Good||Average|
|West Virginia||6.60%||Below Average||Average||Average|
1. Mercatus Center State Fiscal Condition
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics
3. The CJDS career outlook was completed by a trained economist with a MBA from Chicago’s Booth School of Business. The analysis looked at multitude of sources, trends and factors to compile its outlook for each state’s overall and criminal justice employment prospects outlook. We hope this effort helps you in your assessment. Government budgets for operations and hiring and demographic-related factors drive hiring in criminal justice. Early in the downturn, Federal Stimulus and the need to offset private sector job loss usually meant relatively better prospects for government related hiring and stability. With the advent of the pressure on state budgets and pressures on government unions via state legislations (consider Wisconsin and Ohio), the picture has since clouded. The aging population will ensure turnover especially in the rougher jobs. The story varies dramatically state-by-state and you should leverage our analysis to help you make the best decision — be that investing in criminal justice degree in your area or looking for an area to move where prospects are best. No matter the area, a criminal justice degree will provide an edge in a competitive labor market.
States with an Overall Employment Outlook Grade of “Good” or “Better”:
Best Advice from 36 Leaders in Law Enforcement
Criminal Justice Careers for Women: 6 Great Opportunities
5 Criminal Justice Careers As Seen on Television
American Criminal Justice Association
American Society of Criminology