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Top 10 Careers with a Criminal Justice Degree

December 20, 2013

There are ample career opportunities both in the field and behind a desk for criminal justice professionals. However, those with a bachelor’s degree will qualify for superior job openings at the local, state and federal level. Current criminal justice professionals or people with some college credit and a calling for public service should consider enrolling in King University’s online criminal justice degree. The accelerated program picks up where you left off in your pursuit of a degree by delivering field-specific courses to broaden your knowledge and build your expertise level in a variety of criminal justice sectors. And, King University’s curriculum is designed with a focus on restorative justice, providing you with a deeper understanding on the nature of criminal activity and its lasting effects on victims and the community. Take a look at these top careers in criminal justice for professionals with a bachelor’s degree.

Law Enforcement Careers

  • Police officer: Sworn to protect and serve the public, police officers are an essential resource for promoting public safety in a community. Day-to-day activities vary by their employment level (local, state or federal) and experience. Duties are sometimes physical and require a relatively strong level of fitness. While some local forces require minimal education (a high school diploma in most cases), larger metropolitan areas as well as state and federal agencies look for candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), police officers earn a median annual salary of $47,460.
  • Detective: Detectives solve major (and sometimes minor) crimes by collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, reviewing records and connecting the dots. Most detectives work consistent crime beats, including robbery, drugs and homicide. Most detectives start their careers as a police officer and work their way up the law enforcement chain. That being said, experience is a major qualification for detectives, but so is education. The BLS reports the annual median salary for a detective is $58,260.
  • Park ranger: Enjoy the great outdoors while maintaining public and environmental safety when you become a park ranger. Park rangers are employed at the state and federal levels; however, they generally perform the same duties at both levels, including enforcing park regulations, preventing and containing forest fires, performing search and rescue operations, providing education outreach to the public about the site and more. A park ranger’s job is generally very physical and requires a high level of fitness. Most state parks require their rangers to hold at least a bachelor’s degree with interest or experience in biology, conservation and more. National parks are increasingly seeking candidates with a master’s degree. Salary is dependent on employment level and experience, with national park rangers typically earning more than their state counterparts.
  • Game warden: Make a career out of your passion for wilderness and hunting by becoming a game warden in your community. Game wardens patrol community lands and waterways through enforcing hunting, fishing and boating safety laws. Game wardens may also be called on to assist in search and rescue missions and patrol state borders as part of homeland security and immigration initiatives. Job requirement vary by state and level of employment; federal agents will need a bachelor’s degree. Job demand is competitive at both the state and federal level. The BLS reports a median annual salary of $49,730.
  • State trooper: State-level law enforcement careers are in big demand across the nation. Each state may have different on-the-job duties for their troopers, but generally a state trooper will patrol highways, respond to roadway emergencies, make statewide criminal arrests and more. Most states require at least a college degree for employment consideration as well as significant experience at the local law enforcement level. Salary requirements will likely vary by state; the BLS reports a median annual salary of $52,540.

Correctional and Court Careers

  • Parole officer: Assisting criminal offenders in their transition back into society is an essential element of restorative justice. If this component of criminal justice interests you, consider a role as a parole officer. Parole officers maintain regular contact with these past offenders to help guide them through this transition and provide supportive services to keep them on track and prevent them from returning to a life of crime. Most employers require a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice for placement in this correctional career. King University’s program focuses on restorative justice and will give you an edge in this criminal justice field. The BLS reports an 18 percent increase in jobs through 2020 and an annual median salary of $47,200. Like many criminal justice careers, salary is dependent on education level, experience and regional location.
  • Probation officer: Many first-time offenders are given probation in lieu of a jail sentence. In these instances, a probation officer will be assigned to them to ensure they aren’t violating the terms of their release or deferred sentencing. Probation officers differ from parole officers, as the former works with clients who have not served time in jail for a crime. Probation officers will meet with clients to review their status and assist with various services, including housing, employment, rehabilitation and more. Those without previous experience in the field will need a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice for job placement. There is a stable job market for probation officers. According to the BLS, probation officers earn an annual median salary of $47,200.
  • Corrections officer: Criminal justice professionals who work in prisons or other correctional facilities are called corrections officers. Corrections officers work in both state and federal penitentiaries as well as juvenile correction facilities. The main responsibility of these professionals is to oversee prisoners by enforcing rules and regulations, monitoring social activity and providing regular safety checks. Most facilities require a four-year degree for job placement while many consider past military experience a benefit for this job. Annual salary varies between state and federal facilities; the BLS reports that state correction officers earn an annual salary of $39,040 while federal correction officers earn upwards of $54,000.
  • Bailiff: Courtrooms can be a place of high tension and stress, which may result in outbreaks or chaos. Bailiffs are in charge of keeping order in the court by enforcing rules and regulations and providing security checks. Prerequisites for this position include a college degree and law enforcement experience. The BLS reports a median annual salary of $38,570 for bailiffs.

Forensic Careers

  • Crime scene investigator: Use forensic science such as DNA, blood splatter and more to solve major crimes as a crime scene investigator (CSI). CSIs are in charge of observing a crime scene, evaluating evidence and preparing reports during the initial investigative stages of a crime, including homicides, armed robberies, property crimes, sexual assaults and more. Education requirements vary by department and agency; however a four-year degree and expertise in biology, anatomy and chemistry in addition to criminal justice is preferred. According to the BLS, employment demand is expected to grow by 19 percent through the next decade. The BLS also reports an annual median salary of $51,570 for CSIs.

Criminal justice careers are broad in scope, allowing professionals the room to discover a job that best suits their interests, experience and education. As the field grows in complexity and sophistication, more agencies and departments are requiring criminal justice professionals to hold at least a bachelor’s degree. King University’s online criminal justice bachelor’s degree will provide a solid foundation of core competencies and will give you an edge in a competitive job market.