5 Hot Careers for Criminal Justice Majors

A criminal justice major may bring some lucrative opportunities your way. The nature of the job and circumstances vary greatly with different criminal justice jobs. This variation allows you to select a job that would best fit your aptitude, interest, and personality.

Post 9/11, the focus is increasingly on security, preventing crime, maintaining social control, and rehabilitating offenders.  This has led to the opening of several careers for individuals who have majored in criminal justice.

With a degree in criminal justice, you gain the essential skills and knowledge required to enter a lucrative and long term career in criminal justice.

Check out these amazing jobs that you may find interesting if you have a criminal justice major:


  • What They Do –I f you watch TV, you might have seen Suits or Boston Legal. Your job might not be that glamorous and exciting, but you’ll get an idea as to what the requirements are. Lawyers represent parties facing criminal or civil trials. They advise clients about their legal rights and obligations. Lawyers act as advisors and guide their clients to choose courses of action based on their knowledge of law, legal decisions, and research.
  • How Much They Make – According to BLS, the median annual wage for lawyers was $112,760 in May 2010. The lowest ten percent of lawyers had a salary of less than $54,130, and the top ten percent earned more than $166,400. Salaries of experienced lawyers differ depending on the location, type, and size, of their employers. Lawyers who own their own practices usually earn less than those associated with a law firm.
  • Education and Training Requirements – In order to become a lawyer, you need to complete a four year undergraduate degree, three years in law school to prepare for bar examinations, and go through licensing programs to be eligible for employment. After graduation, it is a must for lawyers to stay informed about legal developments that have an impact on their practices.
  • Finding a job – With so many social networking websites, there has never been a better opportunity for you to get in touch with target employers and network with leading lawyers. Learn networking skills and apply them while you are in law school. Don’t wait for firms to post for internships, contact the firms yourself, and be willing to gain initial experience for free.  Visit law firms and meet partners you would most like to work with. Also keep in touch with your school’s placement offices, legal recruiting websites, social networking groups, and newspaper job postings. Get out of your comfort zone and you are much more likely to find the job you are looking for.


Private Investigators and Detectives

  • What They Do – If you follow the award winning show Castle, then you would have an idea as to what detectives are required to do. The responsibility of Private Investigators and Detectives is to come up with specific law enforcement techniques used in maintaining order, gathering evidence, arresting criminals, solving crimes, and assessing records. Detectives can be with or without a license and it depends on the organization where they work. Most of them are employed with police agencies, private firms, inter-agency task forces, or individuals. Normally they specialize in fields like fraud, forensic, and homicide.
  • How Much They Make – According to BLS, the median yearly salary of private detectives and investigators was $42,870 in May 2010. Private investigators and detectives with the lowest ten percent salaries earned less than $25,760, and the highest ten percent had a salary of more than $74,970.
  • Education and Training Requirements – Private detectives and investigators usually have some college education. However, detective jobs vary in their requirements. Some need a high school diploma, while others may ask for an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree. Postsecondary courses taken in criminal justice and political science can be quite helpful for private detectives and investigators. Work experience is normally required for a detective job but the lucky ones can start right after graduating from college with an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in police science or criminal justice.
  • Finding a job – Many of the local and state agencies require Investigators. Some of these agencies only offer paid and unpaid internships, but acquiring some experience through internships can open up job opportunities for you. Also look for Private Investigator associations in your state. These associations can provide you with several resources such as employment information, continuing training, and networking. They also offer ethical and professional guidelines to excel in their careers. Lawyers are among the number one employers of private investigators. Meet some lawyers to network and find out about employment opportunities.


Police Officers

  • What They Do – The famous TV show NYPD documented work and private lives of these professionals excellently. It really showed how police officers work and what sort of challenges they face everyday. Police Officers get to perform a number of tasks that make their work interesting. They work to maintain public order, provide evidence in court, and keep an eye on suspicious activities. Police officers help those who call for assistance, make arrests, and also keep individuals in custody for questioning. They have the option to work for local, state or federal agencies, while obeying a strict code of conduct related to law enforcement and maintaining integrity of the uniform they wear.
  • How Much They Make – According to BLS, the median yearly salary of police officers was $55,010 in May 2010. The lowest ten percent of police officers had a salary less than $32,440, and the highest ten percent earned more than $88,870.
  • Education and Training Requirements – Police applicants require at least a high school diploma or GED.  They also need to graduate from their agency’s training academy. Police agencies normally ask for some college coursework and education. Besides, knowing a foreign language is a plus. It can help you find a job and excel in urban departments and federal agencies.
  • Finding a job – A bit of research and preparation can help you get your desired job. You need to understand and prepare for the testing process, and check if you meet the minimum requirements. It is also necessary that you thoroughly search about the agency where you are applying. Also look for other law enforcement jobs in your area, and don’t just focus on the big police. There are a lot of other police officer’s jobs such as tribal police, school police, college police, transit, corrections, dispatch, and a number of state and federal agencies. You will need to participate in volunteer work, do internships, and join police reserve units. Volunteer work can help you in getting the job but experience with a law enforcement agency as an explorer, reserve, volunteer or intern can be even better. This way you will acquire a better understanding of your work.


Federal Marshals

  • What They Do – Timothy Olyphant’s portrayal as a tough federal lawman with his own set of rules might have been entertaining, however in real life; it is not how it works. Federal Marshals are important members working for the executive branch of the US government. They carry out crucial responsibilities such as protecting federal courts, securing court officers, maintaining security, granting arrest warrants, transferring prisoners, and conducting searches for runaways.
  • How Much They Make – Federal Marshals fall in the category of police and detectives. According to BLS, the median yearly salary of police and detectives was $55,010 in May 2010. The lowest ten percent of police and detectives earned a salary of less than $32,440, and the highest ten percent earned more than $88,870.
  • Education and Training Requirements –In order to be a U.S. Marshal, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, three years of relevant experience, and a squeaky clean background. You must pass the required physical, written, and psychological assessments as well.
  • Finding a job – An information session on federal marshal jobs can prove helpful for you. These sessions are regularly conducted at a number of US Marshal District Offices. You can find a list of these scheduled sessions at the US Marshall official website. Experience can also play an important role in getting you a federal marshal job. If you do not wish to have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, you will need at least three years of experience to apply as a Deputy Marshal.


Forensic Analysts

  • What They Do – Believe it or not, the investigative techniques used in CSI and Dexter are also used in reality to solve crimes.  Forensic Analysts are instrumental to the criminal justice system. They perform tasks such as collecting, categorizing, analyzing, and identifying physical evidence necessary for law enforcement investigations. As a forensic scientist, you can work in city, county, or state crime labs or morgues, offices, and at crime scenes. You are likely to work hand in hand with medical examiners, police departments, hospital staff, toxicology lab technicians, and researchers. As a forensic analyst, you can specialize in handwriting, fingerprinting, ballistics, and biochemistry.
  • How Much They Make – According to BLS, the median yearly salary of forensic analysts was $51,570 in May 2010. The lowest ten percent of forensic analysts had a salary of less than $32,900, and the highest ten percent earned more than $82,990.
  • Education and Training Requirements – Forensic analysts or technicians who plan to work in crime laboratories normally require a bachelor’s degree in forensic science or in natural sciences such as chemistry or biology. Students majoring in forensic science should make sure that their program has an extensive coursework based on chemistry, biology, and mathematics.
  • Finding a job – In order to enhance your chances to be a forensic analyst, it is good to start with an internship. Many organizations such as Federal Bureau of Investigation and state bureaus of investigation, medical examiner’s offices and morgues,  sheriff’s offices, the Central Intelligence Agency, district and state’s attorney’s offices,  colleges and universities,  regional and state labs, private companies, Tobacco and Firearms,  Naval Criminal Investigative Services regularly provide opportunities to learn forensics analysis. Find an internship in an organization where you wish to work. In case of an above average performance, you can stand a chance of employment in your preferred place.

If you are inquisitive and not too fond of routines, nal justice careers may be the right option for you. This is one of the few sectors that is challenging and you know you will be making a difference to the society with your services.

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Good luck in your search,


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