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 an exclusive video with former King County Sheriff, Sue Rahr. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, as of 2012, roughly 3 million workers are employed in the criminal justice field. Join them.

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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
Lawyer Legal Master’s Master’s 581920 19650 $130880
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

*High school refers to a high school diploma or GED.

Table Footnotes
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)

>>See 48 More Careers

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Criminal Justice Career Interviews


Gary Raney
Ada County Sheriff

Michael Welner, MD
Forensic Psychiatrist

Steve Boyer
Kitsap County Sheriff

Glenn Hoff
Retired Rochester Police Department Deputy Chief

See all criminal justice interviews.

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.

CJDS FACT: Cybersecurity is an in-demand position at the Homeland Security Department, which developed Cyber Storm, the Department of Homeland Security’s biennial exercise series. Cyber Storm provides the framework for the most extensive government-sponsored cybersecurity exercise of its kind and is designed to strengthen cyber preparedness in the public and private sectors.

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.

1. homicide detective
2. blood spatter analyst
3. homeland security degree
4. computer forensics degree
5. how to become a fish and game warden
6. law enforcement degree

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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 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.

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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 80’s. As those events come together, those pursuing degrees in this field now will have ample opportunities upon graduation.

 State Overall Employment
Returns To Peak By
Overall Employment
Outlook Grade
Gov’t Employment
Returns To Peak By
Gov’t Employment
Outlook Grade
US Total 6/1/2014 average 3/1/2014 average
Alabama 6/1/2014 above average 3/1/2014 average
Alaska 6/1/2011 excellent 6/1/2011 excellent
Arizona 12/1/2014 below average 12/1/2014 below average
Arkansas 6/1/2013 very good 6/1/2011 excellent
California 3/1/2015 below average 6/1/2014 average
Colorado 6/1/2013 good 6/1/2011 good
Connecticut 12/1/2014 below average 12/1/2014 below average
Delaware 12/1/2013 average 6/1/2011 excellent
District of Columbia 3/1/2011 excellent 6/1/2011 excellent
Florida 6/1/2014 below average 6/1/2013 average-good
Georgia 3/1/2014 average-below average 9/1/2012 average-good
Hawaii 6/1/2014 average 6/1/2015 average
Idaho 3/1/2014 average 3/1/2012 good
Illinois 12/1/2015 below average 9/1/2012 very good
Indiana 9/1/2015 below average 12/1/2012 very good
Iowa 12/1/2014 good 3/1/2012 very good
Kansas 12/1/2013 average 3/1/2013 average
Kentucky 12/1/2013 average 12/1/2012 average
Louisiana 12/1/2012 good 12/1/2012 good
Maine 3/1/2013 good 3/1/2015 average-below average
Maryland 3/1/2013 good 9/1/2013 average
Massachusetts 3/1/2013 good 3/1/2013 average
Michigan 12/1/2025 poor 6/1/2015 below average
Minnesota 9/1/2013 average 6/1/2013 good
Mississippi 6/1/2014 below average 6/1/2013 average
Missouri 3/1/2014 average-below average 6/1/2011 excellent
Montana 12/1/2014 average 12/1/2011 excellent
Nebraska 3/1/2013 good 6/1/2011 excellent
Nevada 6/1/2015 below average 12/1/2015 below average
New Hampshire 12/1/2013 good 6/1/2011 excellent
New Jersey 9/1/2014 below average 12/1/2014 below average
New Mexico 3/1/2013 good 6/1/2011 excellent
New York 9/1/2013 average 12/1/2012 good
North Carolina 3/1/2013 good 6/1/2011 excellent
North Dakota 3/1/2012 excellent 12/1/2012 very good
Ohio 3/1/2015 below average 6/1/2014 below average
Oklahoma 9/1/2014 average-good 12/1/2014 average-good
Oregon 9/1/2014 average-below average 6/1/2011 excellent
Pennsylvania 3/1/2014 average-below average 9/1/2013 average
Rhode Island 3/1/2015 below average 9/1/2014 below average
South Carolina 3/1/2013 good 6/1/2011 excellent
South Dakota 6/1/2013 good 12/1/2012 very good
Tennessee 9/1/2014 average-below average 6/1/2011 excellent
Texas 12/1/2012 excellent 6/1/2011 excellent
Utah 6/1/2014 average 6/1/2011 excellent
Vermont 3/1/2014 average 6/1/2015 average
Virginia 6/1/2013 good 9/1/2013 good
Washington 12/1/2013 average 6/1/2013 average
West Virginia 12/1/2013 average 12/1/2013 average
Wisconsin 6/1/2015 below average 12/1/2012 very good
Wyoming 3/1/2014 average 6/1/2011 excellent

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States with an Overall Employment Outlook Grade of “Good” or Better

Additional Resources

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

(1) USA TODAY/Moody’s Analytics/BLS
(2) 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.

References:
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_102.htm
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm

Page Edited by Rob Voce.