If you’re reading this, you’re probably at least curious about the criminal justice field. But naturally before enrolling in a program, paying tuition and potentially racking up student loans, you want to make sure you get a return on investment.
Luckily besides a valuable learning experience, there are numerous careers you can pursue after graduating with a criminal justice degree.
Criminal Justice Degree Exposes you to Career Opportunities
Although a criminal justice degree’s curriculum will vary by college and university, generally you can expect courses related to law enforcement, corrections, criminal courts, juvenile justice, diversity, criminal behaviour, law, criminal investigations, ethics and more.
Some criminal justice degrees also include an extremely valuable internship opportunity and/or the option to concentrate in specialized areas. (For example, a Bachelor of Criminal Justice Administration with a Human Services concentration may just be the program to prepare you for criminal justice careers related to case management, correctional counselling, mental health or victim advocacy). You can also facilitate your own job placement experiences and further specialize through minoring or electives.
In the words of Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, “a criminal justice degree will open the door to opportunities you don’t know exist.”
Careers with a Criminal Justice Degree
As follows are some examples of careers you can pursue with a criminal justice degree. Note that it is important to research exact educational and additional requirements outlined by employers. For example, some may simply prefer an Associate’s degree, while others may require a Bachelor’s degree. Some may require a combination of education and experience.
Criminal justice students go on to become:
- Police Officers
- Sheriff’s Deputies
- Police Dispatchers
- DEA Special Agents
- FBI Special Agents
- Secret Service Agents
- Victim Advocates
- Corrections Officers
- Probation/Parole Officers
- Corrections Counselors
- ATF Agents
- Customs and Border Protection Agents
- U.S. Air Marshals
- Park Rangers/Game Wardens
- Postal Inspectors
- Pre-trial Services Officers
- And more!
Springboard for Further Specialization
Some careers require advanced, specialized education (i.e. a Juris Doctor, a Master’s degree or higher). A criminal justice degree would be an ideal major at the Bachelor’s level to qualify you for further education to pursue such careers as a lawyer/attorney, forensic psychologist, criminal justice instructor or professor, a law enforcement management/leadership position, etc. (Admission into certain graduate degrees may require some specified pre-requisite courses).
Majoring in Criminal Justice Might Not Always be the Right Choice
On our career page, we outline numerous careers related to the criminal justice system. For some professions, majoring in criminal justice is not the ideal choice. For example, to become a forensic science technician, a degree in a natural science or forensic science makes more sense; or to enter the IT field, it would be better to study computer forensics, security or science. However, if the option exists, minoring in criminal justice could be a great complement.
It should be noted that criminal justice degrees vary by school as far as specific courses, whether it’s offered on campus or online and degree level (i.e. Associate, Bachelor and higher). When researching programs, it’s also important to research future career aspirations to find out about required qualifications, such as whether a two-, four- or more year-degree is required, whether experience is necessary (i.e. through an internship) and more.