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What Can You Do With a Criminal Justice Degree?

Published on: December 8, 2022

A judge's gavel on a stack of books.

The fascinating world of criminal justice gives you insider knowledge of forensic practices, law enforcement and the American legal system. If you've always been intrigued by court trials and how the criminal justice system operates, a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice may be a strategic career move. A degree in this area could help you become a criminal profiler, police officer or technician in a forensic lab. You could be instrumental in solving cases and bringing offenders to justice, or you could become an advocate for families affected by crime.

There are many specialties you could choose as you earn your degree in criminal justice, so you can design your coursework to reflect your interests. Your degree will make you a marketable candidate for your desired job. Whether a parole officer or a court reporter, a degree in criminal justice is the best place to begin.

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Is Criminal Justice a Good Career Choice?

Criminal justice is a great career choice, especially if you enjoy solving mysteries. A degree in this field will teach you about the methods police officers use to identify and track down criminals. It will take you inside crime scenes and show you how to recognize and collect evidence. And it will help you better understand what happens during a court trial and why an offender may be found innocent or guilty.

But criminal justice is a good career choice for other reasons, too. For instance, the role of forensic science technician is expected to grow at a much faster than average rate through the year 2031. This means plenty of new jobs should become available for those with the proper credentials. And the median pay for this position in 2021 was $61,930. 

How to Get a Job in the Criminal Justice Field

You'll need specific education and training to get a foot in the door of the criminal justice field. A bachelor's degree in this field is the ideal jumping-off point. The best strategy is to decide which branch of criminal justice you wish to pursue and then tailor your coursework to fit. This way, you'll be more prepared to perform the required work and may be more successful in your role from the very first day. This is a rewarding career field, but it's vast. Exactly what can you do with a degree in criminal justice?

16 Jobs You Can Get With a Degree in Criminal Justice 

Jobs with a degree in criminal justice are plentiful. They include: 

1. Private Investigator

Many private investigators were once police officers, firefighters or detectives. In fact, some states require this. In Maryland, for example, you'll need five years of prior experience in one of these fields to obtain a state license to practice. Earning at least an associate degree in criminal justice is recommended as well.

As a private detective, some of the tasks you may encounter include the following:

  • Collecting and recording evidence
  • Conducting interviews
  • Surveilling
  • Searching online or court records for information

You will likely work for private clients with specific needs, such as those searching for missing children or wanting to know whether their spouse is having an extramarital affair.

2. Correctional Officer

Correctional officers work in prisons, correctional facilities, jails, reformatories and penitentiaries. They're charged with the care and supervision of inmates. This job may involve working in guard towers or prison tiers or escorting inmates to infirmaries, hospitals or court. 

3. Criminal Profiler 

Usually, criminal profilers are called criminal investigative analysts. They study data from crime scenes to help them better understand the person who committed the crime. Often, the investigative analyst has a background in criminal justice and psychology and usually holds a graduate or doctoral degree. As an expert in this field, responsibilities may include:

  • Giving expert testimony in court
  • Providing local law enforcement with offender profiles
  • Identifying behavior patterns of offenders
  • Acting as a consultant to law enforcement

The role of criminal investigative analyst bears some similarities to the ones depicted in popular television shows. However, it's not usually as glamorous. 

4. Police Officer 

Police officers work to enforce laws and protect civilians from criminal acts. They're responsible for public safety and the proper collection and handling of evidence. Police officers may work out of a big city precinct, local sheriff's office or police department securing crime scenes, serving warrants and protecting the public. 

5. Crime Scene Investigator 

Crime scene investigators specialize in reading evidence. They can draw informed conclusions from evidence left behind at a crime scene, including fingerprints, blood splatter, broken door locks, cut window screens and more. They can study a crime scene and visualize what happened. This often provides necessary clues that help law enforcement and criminal analysts reach conclusions. 

6. Parole Officer

Parole or probation officers oversee the comings and goings of people on parole. They record the current addresses and telephone numbers of parolees and meet with them regularly to ensure they're meeting the terms of their parole. This may mean ensuring they've found a job, that they're not having contact with previous victims and that they've not acquired a firearm or are selling drugs. 

7. Security Manager 

Security managers are responsible for safeguarding people and property. They may work in an office building or on a construction site. They may work for a large corporation or a small jewelry store. On any given day, they may escort a threatening individual off the premises, apprehend a shoplifter or evacuate a building due to a bomb threat. They're also usually responsible for hiring, training and managing their security staff. 

8. Correctional Counselor

Correctional counselors meet with incarcerated individuals to provide therapy. Usually, counselors have a degree in counseling or psychology that complements their education or training in criminal justice. Within the corrections system, they provide mental health assistance to inmates. 

9. Criminal Attorney

A criminal attorney is a lawyer who defends someone accused of a crime. This person is an expert in criminal justice and the legal system and has a law degree in addition to a bachelor's degree. It's their responsibility to ensure the defendant receives a fair trial and is presumed innocent until proven otherwise.

10. Forensic Science Technician 

A forensic science technician works in a laboratory, examining evidence for clues. They may help solve a case by reviewing things left behind by the criminal, including DNA, fingerprints and fibers.

11. Criminal Investigator

The criminal investigator, or detective, is the person who actively works to solve the case. They work in conjunction with police officers, crime scene technicians and forensic science technicians to find and apprehend the person who committed the crime. 

12. College Professor

To teach criminal justice at the college level, you'll need at least a master's degree. This is a good choice for those who are fascinated by the justice system but aren't comfortable solving cases or handling evidence.

13. Border Patrol Agent 

Border patrol agents guard America's borders to prevent the influx of illegal immigrants, drugs or other illegal substances. Like police officers, they're guardians of public safety who work to keep families safe on both sides of the border.

14. Court Reporter

The court reporter, or stenographer, is responsible for recording every moment of a court proceeding via a stenograph. This machine allows the stenographer to record a shorthand version of every word spoken throughout the trial. In this way, all information can be recalled as needed. 

15. Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologists apply the science of psychology to the legal system, interviewing suspects or criminals convicted of crimes to better understand how the criminal mind works. To work as a forensic psychologist, you'll need a doctoral degree in psychology to complement your criminal justice degree.

16. Victim Advocate

A victim's advocate is a support role for those impacted by criminal acts. In this job, you might accompany the family of a murder victim to court and provide emotional support during the trial, or you might provide rape or assault victims with resources where they can obtain counseling or medical care. 

You can play many roles with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, and each offers a dynamic and rewarding career. If you're ready to learn more about criminal justice degree jobs, contact Husson University today. Husson offers an online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice that allows you to transfer up to 90 credits while studying around your day-to-day work and life responsibilities.

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Sources

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science-technicians.htm

https://www.apa.org/ed/precollege/psn/2013/09/forensic-psychology

 

 

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