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Top Careers in Criminal Justice

by South University, Online Programs
February 14, 2014

For better or for worse, criminal justice is one sector that is strong regardless of the health of the overall economy. This means that students interested in criminal justice have a lot of options when choosing a career path. Nationally, there are about 3.2 million people employed in the criminal justice industry, earning an average annual salary of $43,050.

Criminal JusticeLaw Enforcement

Law enforcement is a common choice for those interested in criminal justice, as it allows you to directly work to protect citizens. The field is generally focused on making sure the law is enforced while actively working to bring real criminals to justice through the legal system.

Some common jobs within law enforcement include:

• Patrol Officer
• Corrections Officer
• FBI Agent
• Security Officer
• Customs and Border Patrol Agent


Another side of criminal justice involves the study of crimes, victims and social reactions to crime. As there are many ways you can work to prevent or solve crime, a variety of personnel fall under the criminology group, including investigators and profilers.

Career paths and job opportunities in this industry include:

• Criminologist
• Criminal Profiler
• Intelligence Analyst
• Forensic Interview Specialist
• Criminal Records Analyst

Social Services

After an arrest and legal proceedings are completed, much of the work in criminal justice involves making sure individuals that go through the system don’t return to their old habits. This is where social work side comes into play. Social workers serve a variety of functions, but they most often serve as a counselor and accountability partner for juveniles and adults who are trying to get their lives back on track. Social workers can provide guidance and support for those who are struggling to improve their lives, and they serve a vital function within the criminal justice system. In addition, some professionals in social services work closely with victims and victim advocacy.

Administration and Policy

In addition to those more visible in the criminology and law enforcement professions, there are a number of people working behind the scenes in criminal justice. Management positions at any law enforcement agency often start with a degree. Advisory roles play an important part in determining when and how law enforcement personnel are utilized. Policy decisions can affect the number of new law enforcement agents hired, profiling techniques used in the field, the creation of new interview techniques and more. Those with a graduate degree in criminal justice may find a career in advising law makers about policy, or perhaps take on another leadership role in administration or policy.

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Interested in Criminal Justice? Explore our degree programs.

Tags: careers criminal justice

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