Top 10 Careers in Criminal Justice that are Marketable in 2022

The criminal justice field encompasses dozens of rewarding career opportunities that are marketable in areas such as crime prevention, victim advocacy, corrections/rehabilitation, and investigative work.

This article will show the high paying criminal justice careers that are marketable in 2022.

Potential careers for graduates with a criminal justice degree depend on the major and type of degree. For example, students who focus on forensic science may find jobs as forensic scientists.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), forensic science technicians earn an average salary of $59,150 per year, with a projected job growth rate of 14% between 2018 and 2028.

This article covers some major criminal justice careers, including potential salaries, projected job growth, and common tasks.

The table of content below will guide you through this article.

What is Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice refers to the system by which justice is delivered to those who have committed a crime.

This includes the crime a defendant is alleged to have committed, the law enforcement officers who arrested him, the justice system that processes and defends him, and how the defendant is punished if he is found guilty.

Law enforcement agencies, the judicial system, and criminal detention and monitoring agencies work together to uphold the rule of law in society.

Criminal justice systems have existed in one form or another for centuries, although their forms have changed over time.

There have always been acts deemed unacceptable by society, but the way society punished that behavior (and who had the power to punish) has changed.

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What Skills Do I Need for a Career In Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice is one career that requires skill sets that go beyond what you learn in the classroom. It is important to remember that the field of criminal justice can encompass a wide range of positions in law enforcement or the judicial system.

While the technical knowledge and professional training required in each of these specific career paths vary, some common soft skills (personal attributes not specific to an industry or task) are also important.

General skill development is particularly important, as many positions in the criminal justice field may involve interacting with people in sensitive or highly charged situations.

Below we cover some general skills that criminal justice students should focus on and work to develop during their time in a study program.

#1. Written Communication

Written communication is extremely important in the criminal justice profession because the things you write can have the potential to become legal documents.

This is practically true for legal clerks, those who work in law enforcement organizations, and counselors and probation officers – all roles that may require keeping detailed legally admissible records.

#2. Public Speaking

Since many jobs in criminal justice will put you in regular contact with the public, the way you speak is important.

Do you talk to everyone as if they were your close friends or do you adjust your tone and words based on your audience?

Do you know how to adapt your oral communication skills to particular situations and goals?

The way you speak can influence not only how people think of you but also how much they understand and trust the information and ideas you are conveying.

For this reason, good public speaking skills are important, whether you are addressing the public as a judge or law enforcement official, or teaching criminal justice courses, or advising on policy.

#3. Time Management

Good time management skills are important. This is partly due to the number of criminal justice jobs that involve handling many different cases simultaneously.

This can be especially important if your role requires you to make multiple on-site client visits, court appointments, or other appointments on your normal course of work.

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#4. Active Listening and Learning

Many positions within the criminal justice system involve dealing directly with people, often in tensed and contentious situations.

Therefore, it is important to communicate with people in a thoughtful and sensitive manner, while at the same time being able to gather information and document relevant details.

Hence, active listening is an essential skill regardless of whether you are in counseling and social work, need to collect witness statements during investigations or need to follow complex arguments as a judge or attorney during court cases.

#5. Critical Thinking and Decision Making

Because decisions made in the criminal justice field have such a strong and lasting impact, good judgment and critical thinking skills are very important.

Criminal justice careers require high levels of social awareness and perception, as well as strong deductive and inductive reasoning.

While these skills can sometimes be honed through courses specific to certain criminal justice roles and situations, they must also be developed through constant attention to detail and personal practice.

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What Education is Required to Secure the Highest Paying Careers in Criminal Justice?

Earning a degree in the field of criminal justice can provide strong, lucrative, and rewarding opportunities in a wide range of professional careers.

Students pursuing a criminal justice major can find work in the public and private sectors or pursue higher education, allowing them the greatest degree of flexibility in choosing the right career path.

In criminal justice career, there are various level of degree you have to attain before you you can function in different fields of this career.

For instance, an associate degree holder will not particularly work where a master’s degree holder in criminal justice is working.

This page will show the different education and certification you must get to secure the highest paying careers in criminal justice.

Careers with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

Increasingly, law enforcement agencies tend to give preference to applicants who have completed at least two years of college.

In many states, a 2-year associate’s degree is a prerequisite for joining the police academy to work as a uniformed police officer.

Other criminal justice careers that require an associate’s degree (or an equivalent amount of college credit) include
Crime Scene Investigators
Juvenile Justice Officers.

Starting salaries for criminal justice professionals with an associate’s degree range from $30,000 to $40,000 per year.

Careers with a Bachelor Degree in Criminal Justice

Many local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies actively recruit professionals who have earned a four-year college degree (license).

Most of the larger law enforcement services now require their officers to complete a four-year degree program. And most federal law enforcement agencies require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree (if not a master’s degree).

Getting a bachelor’s degree is also a good idea if you have an aspiration to continue your education along the way. Many graduate programs in criminal justice require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study.

Careers that require a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in most cases are;

  • Police Officers,
  • Special Agents,
  • Probation Officers, and
  • Community Policing

Criminal justice professionals with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn between $40,000 and $70,000 per year upfront, depending on agency, location, and experience.

Careers with a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice

Obtaining a master’s degree in Criminal Justice will open the door to several exciting careers and positions in criminal justice and law enforcement.

If you are considering applying for administrative or supervisory officer positions, earning a master’s degree in criminal justice or a closely related discipline is highly recommended.

Criminal justice professors, researchers, and advisers must also have at least a master’s degree. If you want to become a criminologist or criminal profiler, you will also want to pursue a master’s degree, if not a doctorate.

If you want to get a job in a federal law enforcement agency (eg, FBI, CIA, DEA, Department of Homeland Security, etc.), having a master’s degree in a field of study is extremely helpful.

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What High Paying Careers are Available in Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice is the system in which criminals are identified for their crimes, arrested, tried, and punished.

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The main components of the criminal justice system include law enforcement, the judiciary, and prisons. Each part of the system works together to form the criminal justice system to ensure that laws are obeyed and that offenders are fairly tried and convicted for their crimes.

There is a wide range of high paying jobs in this sector with a great job outlook.

Below are some of the best high-paying careers you can find in the criminal justice field.

  • CIA Officer
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Homicide Detective
  • ICE Agent
  • Crime Scene Investigator
  • Criminal Investigator
  • Narcotics Officer
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • Drug Enforcement Administration Agent
  • CIA Analyst
  • Forensic Accountant
  • Emergency Management Director
  • Computer Forensics Investigator
  • Forensic Nurse
  • Forensic Science Technician
  • Deputy Sheriff
  • First-Line Supervisor of Correctional Officers
  • Forensic Anthropologist
  • Forensic Ballistics Expert

List of Careers in Criminal Justice?

#10. Correctional Officer

Average Salary: $40,530

Job Outlook: 4% increase

Minimum Education Requirement: Bachelor’s Degree

Correctional officers supervise legal detainees in jails, prisons, and holding cells with a general duty to maintain order. It is a physically demanding job with an increased risk of injury.

Some of their responsibilities include: checking inmates and visitors for weapons and drugs, monitoring inmates’ activities, and inspecting facilities to ensure they adhere to the highest health, safety, and security measures.

As a Correctional Officer, you can find jobs at the Local, State, and Federal Jails. Also at prisons or holding cells.

#9. Jail Screener

Average Salary: $41,000

Job Outlook: 6% increase

Minimum Education Requirement: Associates Degree

Jail Screeners adjust and process inmates’ sentences by carefully analyzing their behavior. Their analysis is extremely important because it determines whether and how an inmate will manage their release into society.

The main role of a Jail Screener is to provide a comprehensive report to the Court, Prosecution, and Defense to assist in the bail decision.

With this career, you can find good-paying jobs at the Federal, State, and Local Prisons and Jails.

#8. Private Investigator

Average Salary: $50,700

Job Outlook: 11% increase

Education Requirement: Associates, Bachelor’s, or Master’s Degrees

Private investigators assist with matters at the local, state, and federal levels and are a crucial member in investigating legal, financial, and criminal matters, as well as locating missing persons.

Basically, private investigators generally work for individuals, lawyers, and businesses. Some of their responsibilities include: researching, interviewing, and conducting/monitoring surveillance.

This career will expose you to work at Private Detective Firms, Police Departments, Private Businesses, Organizations, or Individual Clients.

#7. Crime Prevention Specialist

Average Salary: $52,000

Job Outlook: 4% increase

Education Requirement: Associates or Bachelor’s Degree

Crime prevention specialists work closely with communities to help them determine strategies and means to prevent crime in a particular area.

Their main responsibility includes making recommendations on how communities can be better prepared for crime, as well as ways to ensure or implement more reliable security, such as neighborhood watch.

With this career choice, you will find jobs mostly in Local Communities.

#6. Criminal Profiler

Average Salary: $54,000

Job Outlook: 4% Increase

Minimum Education Requirement: Associates or Bachelor’s Degree

Criminal profilers are special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) who provide investigators with a psychological or physical description of a suspect through intensive analysis.

With this career, they can also determine the motivations of a suspect by visualizing the crime and its events from start to finish.

The main role of the criminal profiler is to examine crime scenes, evidence, previous records, and witness statements to develop psychological and behavioral profiles of the suspects and convey those findings to investigators.

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The successful candidate will have proven experience as a qualified criminal detective or profiler.

#5. Police Officer

Average Salary: $55,010

Job Outlook: 7% increase

Minimum Education Requirement: Associates or Bachelor’s Degree

Police officers strive to enforce local, state, or federal laws while protecting the lives of citizens.

Some of their main responsibilities include patrolling areas for wellness and safety, responding to calls related to crimes, complaints, and suspicious activities, reporting incidents, issuing citations and arrests.

This job is open in the Local, State, and Federal Governments.

#4. Crime Scene Investigator

Average Salary: $56,320

Job Outlook: 19% increase

Minimum Education Requirement: Bachelor’s Degree

The Crime Scene Investigator works and analyzes all aspects of the crime scene, finding and collecting evidence such as DNA and fingerprints.

The main role of a crime scene investigator is to identify, collect, and keep an inventory of evidence at the crime scene. They also help Criminal Profiler determine why and exactly how the crime occurred.

They take photographs of the scene and individual evidence, while ensuring that the methods used to collect and process the evidence will withstand the scrutiny of defense attorneys.

You can find high-paying jobs at Offices, Labs, Crime Scenes, etc.

#3. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent

Average Salary: $77,210

Job Outlook: 7% increase

Minimum Education Requirement: Bachelor’s Degree

Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) play an important role in the war on drugs by enforcing controlled substance laws and preventing the distribution of illegal narcotics.

DEAs conduct investigations primarily in the United States, but conduct international investigations and work closely with border patrol and customs officials if the United States is affected.

This career choice is open at the State, Local, and National Law Enforcement Agencies.

#2. Narcotics Officers

Average Salary: $77,210

Job Outlook: 4% Increase

Minimum Education Requirement: Associates or Bachelor’s Degree

Narcotics officers work to prevent the sale, distribution, and use of illicit drugs. This includes drug trafficking and possession investigations.

Some tasks and resources include surveillance, K9 units, wiretapping, and undercover work.

These careers are an important part of any law enforcement service and work for Small Communities, Federal Government.

#1. Homicide Detective

Average Salary: $79,620-$119,280

Job Outlook: 4% increase

Minimum Education Requirement: Associates or Bachelor’s Degree

The duty of a Homicide Detective is to identify murder suspects by collecting and examining the evidence and clues left at the crime scene. These pieces of evidence or clues could include things like DNA and fingerprints.

Homicide detectives also perform crucial law enforcement work, such as investigating deaths caused by criminal activity, examining crime scenes, interviewing witnesses, and prosecuting suspects.

These professionals are an important part of any law enforcement service and work for local, state, and federal agencies.

Final Thought

Many jobs in the criminal justice field offers on-the-job training, continuing education, and graduate programs for their employees at little or no cost.

If you can start a career in criminal justice now and then complete your education as you advance in your career, it will cost you less and be more advanced in your career when you graduate.

Online and distance learning programs now offer a diploma or certificate in criminal justice, psychology, informatics, forensic medicine, and many other disciplines, completely online.

Earning a degree online offers convenience, flexibility, and best of all, you can do it while pursuing your career.

References

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