Criminal justice is a field used to describe various people and places used for the delivery of justice. Criminal justice professionals include police officers, detectives, detectives, lawyers, probation officers, and deputies, while the criminal justice system includes a group of government institutions and agencies, such as jails, prisons, courthouses, and correctional facilities. Because criminal justice is such a vast field, it offers various careers. The overall job outlook for criminal justice professionals is good because these professionals are very much in demand.
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What Careers Are Available in Criminal Justice?
Criminal justice is a field that offers a wide variety of career opportunities. While we often think of police officers when we hear the words “criminal justice”, there are so many possibilities for an individual with a criminal justice degree. Many of these careers can be intertwined or changed. For instance, an individual who earns a criminal justice degree may be hired as a police officer and later be hired as a state trooper or correctional officer. Here are some of the many careers available to criminal justice graduates.
• Police officer
• Probation officer
• DEA agent
• Computer forensics investigator
• Security guard
• FBI agent
• Forensic science technician
• Crime scene investigator
• Correctional officer
• State trooper
• Parole officer
• US Marshal
• Private detective
• Fish and game warden
Degrees Required for a Criminal Justice Career
Some criminal justice jobs may be found without an actual degree if the candidate has some work experience. In such cases, the individual may receive on-the-job training. This may be the case with dispatchers or security guards. However, an associate or bachelor’s degree is required for most criminal justice careers.
Police officers and detectives may be hired with just a high school diploma, but most agencies prefer either a college degree or a policy academy certificate. They may also have other requirements such as being at least 21 years old and demonstrating proficiency in certain physical activities. Individuals wishing to work for the federal government are generally required to have a degree and complete an intensive training program.
A correctional officer or bailiff may be hired with just a high school diploma unless the individual wants to work for a federal prison, in which case a bachelor’s degree is generally required. Probation officers are usually required to have a bachelor’s degree.
Job Outlook for Criminal Justice
The job outlook and wage potential for criminal justice professionals vary by the job and the level of education and training the individual has obtained. Here is a list of several different criminal justice jobs with the projected job growth for 2018-2028 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The average annual earnings nationwide for each position as of May 2018 is also listed.
• Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers – 5 percent – $65400
• Probation Officers & Correctional Treatment Specialists – 3 percent – $58,790
• Correctional Officers & Bailiffs – -7 (decline) percent – $49,300
• Detectives & Investigators – 8 percent – $63,380
• Forensic Science Technician – 14 percent – $58,230
As the rate of crime continues to grow, so will the need for criminal justice professionals, whether it’s to stop crimes, solve crimes, defend criminals or provide housing for prisoners. Individuals who specialize in criminal justice often find this field very gratifying because the job outlook for criminal justice is good and because they can choose from various job opportunities.