From the correctional system to the courthouse to the investigative agencies and beyond, the criminal justice field is perfect for individuals who commit themselves to abide by laws and serving the community. So, what will you have to do in a career based around criminal justice? In a literal sense, criminal justice is all about administering justice to people. That is only one end of the spectrum, which stretches far into various specialties and interests. The necessary work of defending the country and protecting its people’s rights includes specialized training and education. Usually, a degree in criminal justice will allow you to serve your community and uphold the core values of peace and justice throughout your career.
Alongside making a difference in your community, the career outlook will be bright for individuals who earn a master’s or bachelor’s in such a field. Depending on what specialization you do, salaries can range from 50,000 dollars up to 150,000 dollars per year on average. For example, individuals keen on forensics can work as a forensic scientist and earn around 60,000 dollars doing what they love. Today, let us take a closer look at some criminal justice-related career choices that aspiring candidates can apply for once they graduate.
A criminal investigator works on cases, spending months and sometimes even years on the same one until they can solve it. They work closely and collaborate with various law enforcement professionals to interview witnesses, gather and analyze vital evidence, and perform arrests. Such a role demands lots of interactions with different types of people. It is why criminal investigators need to demonstrate empathy and excellent communication skills. Some other skills include leadership and definite decision-making.
To work as a criminal investigator, you will need to enroll yourself in an educational program, such as an online criminal justice degree, preferably a bachelor’s. Furthermore, it would help your employment chances if you also have a high school diploma in the criminology field. According to the BLS, the average salary of a criminal investigator is around 67,000 dollars per year.
- HOMICIDE DETECTIVE
A vital part of any law enforcement agency, a homicide detective investigates murders. Their day-to-day responsibilities include finding and interviewing all witnesses, analyzing crime scenes for evidence collection, and arresting suspects. As a homicide can occur any time of the day, these detectives will sometimes need to work at odd hours, exceeding the 40 hours per-week limit. These detectives must possess interviewing, problem-solving, and investigative skills.
To become a homicide detective, you will have to obtain a high-school diploma, followed by a bachelor’s in criminal justice. Expect a salary of around 74,380 dollars per year.
Sometimes also called a legal assistant, a paralegal will find work inside a law firm, supporting lawyers and attorneys. They will have to take on responsibilities such as preparing for trial, assisting in cases, and arranging meetings with clients. However, they cannot act as lawyers for their clients inside a courtroom. They can only assist other lawyers and attorneys with law-related tasks.
To work as a paralegal, you will have to obtain an associate degree from a college. However, some law firms will hire you on certificates and work experience alone. Some large law-firms will only hire if you have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. According to the BLS, the average salary is about 51,000 dollars. At the same time, the top earners can make more than 82,000 dollars per year.
- PAROLE OFFICER
Parole officers usually work inside a prison or an office setting and supervise recently released on-parole criminals. They ensure that these parolees don’t violate any of their terms. They regularly visit to provide them with career advice, educational opportunities, and rehabilitation. To become a parole officer, you need to obtain a bachelor’s in criminal justice or any other degree related to criminology. But suppose you want to work as a parole officer in the federal government. In that case, you will need a master’s in criminal justice. According to the BLS, the average salary of a parole officer is around 42,500 dollars per year. However, the top earners make approximately 57,000 dollars per year.
- SECRET SERVICE AGENT
The secret service is vital to law-enforcement as they protect critical political figures, such as the president of the United States. Other than that, they also fight against money laundering, counterfeiting, and other financial related crimes. Members of the secret service need to follow specific rules, regulations and meet strict educational requirements.
An individual who wants to work as a secret service agent needs to acquire a bachelor’s in criminal justice, followed by a master’s. Next, the individual needs to gain some work experience in federal agencies. Finally, he/she must pass a medical and physical exam, which includes an eyesight and fitness test. Once the individual gets selected into the secret service, they undergo a rigorous training program before working in the field. According to the BLS, the average salary is around 65,000 dollars per year.
After acquiring a degree in criminal justice, you will take your career in various directions. But, for someone to hire you, you must remain visible. Whether you want to go for a career in law enforcement or work as a federal agent, you will have a platform to help the people in your community. It is a noble degree choice and will take your career to heights. After all, who doesn’t want to serve their community and earn money while doing so? Think about it!