18 Best Criminal Justice Jobs to Pursue

With a degree in criminal justice, you have many promising opportunities that offer job satisfaction. Pursuing a career in criminal justice extends advancement opportunities that could level up your professional career. Even more, there is a steady demand growth for the jobs in this field so you can enjoy job security. Find out in this list the best criminal justice jobs you may pursue with the degree.

What is criminal justice?

Criminal justice is a social science that deals with research methods and theories of criminology and the psychology behind criminal behavior. The professionals who work in this field aim to deliver justice and enforce both federal and state laws. 

The criminal justice system encompasses law enforcement, police, lawyers, and prison and court systems. 

Best criminal justice jobs

Here are the best criminal justice jobs that offer promising growth opportunities and job stability: 

1. Lawyers

 Lawyers, including criminal defense attorneys, corporate lawyers, and sexual assault defense attorneys, hold prestigious positions within the realm of law and criminal justice. They play a critical role in representing clients in both criminal and civil trials, providing invaluable expertise and guidance throughout the legal process. These legal professionals act as trusted advisors, assisting clients in making informed decisions, whether in business or personal matters, by leveraging their knowledge of laws, studying judiciary decisions, and conducting thorough research; sexual assault defense attorneys specialize in offering robust defense and counsel to clients involved in cases of sexual assault, ensuring their rights are protected within the legal framework. With their diverse expertise, lawyers of various specialties contribute to upholding justice in society.

Becoming a lawyer offers you the opportunity to pick a specialty you’ll pursue in your practice. You may specialize in fields like bankruptcy, criminal law, insurance, public interest, environment, intellectual property, probate laws, and more.

To be a lawyer, you’ll need to complete a four-year undergraduate degree, three-year law school, and take the bar exam. Then, you can earn a license to start your practice. The annual wage of a lawyer makes up for all the tedious process of becoming one. They have an average base salary of $119,988 according to Indeed.

2. Private Investigator and Detectives

These are the jobs you always see on crime TV and movies, and they are real. Private investigators and detectives aim to enforce the law, collect evidence, apprehend offenders, solve crimes, and examine records. A private investigator’s primary responsibilities include gathering facts via interviews, evidence, records, research, and observation. On the other hand, detectives work in public or private agencies to specialize in crimes like homicide, forensics, fraud, and SWAT.

You will get satisfaction doing this job if you possess a genuine interest in solving crimes and earning justice for crime victims. The average base annual pay for both positions is $36,450 and $62,811 respectively.

3. Forensic Specialist

Forensic specialists usually work in forensic labs with forensic scientists to examine, analyze, and evaluate evidence gathered from the crime scenes. The job requires substantial knowledge in evidence analysis, including the physical, chemical, instrumental, and microscopic methods.

They usually examine bodily fluids, drugs, gun residue, and more in finding clues that will help them solve the crime. If you are into research and solving crimes, this is a job that might fit your interests. To help you succeed in this career, here’s a forensic psychology course to guide you.

4. Computer Forensic Specialist

Computer forensic specialists specialize in recovering data and materials from digital devices. They utilize different software programs and cybersecurity methods in an attempt to recover any deleted or corrupted files that may be used as evidence. You may learn more about cybersecurity techniques in this comprehensive online course. They work in law enforcement to gather information on crimes, report findings and testify on trials. 

Computer forensic specialists typically hold a degree in an IT-related program or criminal justice. If you have a penchant for technology, this criminal justice job will suit you the best. 

5. Paralegal

Paralegals are one of the entry-level jobs in the criminal justice field. They typically work in law firms, law offices, organizations, service companies, public notaries, and more. Their job includes research, analysis, organization, and data gathering from the trials, hearings, meetings, and proceedings. 

Their job may also involve assistance in tax return preparation, trust fund creation, and more related functions that your client may need help in. To become a paralegal, you need at least two years of associate’s degree in a related paralegal program or have advanced degrees to qualify. Paralegals’ average base salary is $49,293.

6. Correctional Officer

Correctional officers’ primary job is to enforce the rules and keep order in jail, prison, or detention centers. They oversee inmates, including their activities, and inspect the facilities to ensure they meet safety, health, and security protocols. 

To become a correctional officer, one must have at least a high school diploma and completed training from the American Correctional Association (ACA) and American Jail Association (AJA).

7. Police Officer

The police’s primary job is to maintain public order by reinforcing the laws. They pursue and apprehend offenders, collect evidence, testify in court, and report and investigate suspicious activities. They also provide an immediate response to calls from individuals who need assistance.

Police officers typically work for local, state, or federal agencies. And if you aspire to become a police officer, you need to complete its required tests, including medical, written, and physical fitness. Then, you’ll train in a police academy for practical training.

8. Fraud Investigator

Fraud investigators work in accounting, insurance, and law enforcement agencies to catch any fraudulent financial activities. They analyze data to uncover these activities. Parts of their job include conducting interviews with suspects and witnesses for the collection of evidence.

Typically, fraud investigators have degrees in finance, accounting, or any similar field. If you are a degree holder of these degrees and want to pursue fraud investigation, this career will satisfy you. Even more, they have an impressive annual salary of $46,342.

9. FBI Agent

To be a part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a tough challenge. This is one of the high-profile jobs you can get in the criminal justice field. FBI agents primarily do dangerous investigations. And to be recruited, you will need to undergo an arduous process. To be an FBI agent pays well that’s why getting in takes a lot. Their annual salary is $65,852 a year. 

The typical process to become an FBI agent is to have substantial law enforcement and criminal justice experience, pass strict background checks and physical exams. You also must be at least 23 years old and have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with at least a 3.0 GPA.

10. Federal Marshal

Federal marshals work in the executive branch of the US government. Their job is to provide security for the federal courts, protect the court officers and structures. They also help in judicial systems’ operation by maintaining security, serving arrest warrants, transporting prisoners, and more.

To become a federal marshal, one must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, three-year plus related experience, and pass the required assessments. When qualified, they will enter the US Marshals Service Training Academy, which consists of 17.5 weeks of training, coursework, and practical exams.

11. Probation Officers

A probation officer helps meet offenders or individuals who have been sentenced to complete supervised probation and prevents them from committing new crimes. The court places an individual on supervised probation as an alternative to sending convicted offenders to jail or avoiding jail time. Although the offenders are released back to the community, there are strict restrictions on their freedom.

The main purpose of the justice system for individuals on probation is to make those individuals proactive members of society while still living in their community with their families. These individuals are sometimes ordered to participate in domestic violence, sobriety, and substance abuse assessment on a weekly or monthly basis. The probation officers act as the intermediary between the offenders and judges to track the progress and make recommendations. They can also gauge how the offenders are most likely to commit further crimes or will not be a danger to the community.

12. Victim Advocates

Victim advocates are trained to provide emotional support and assistance to the victims and survivors of crime. The victim or survivors of crimes includes those who experienced sexual assault, battery, spousal abuse, attempted murder, and hate crimes. They go along with the victims and their families to criminal justice proceedings. Also, they act as an instrument to give voice to people who can’t always speak and help them to get back on their feet.

Some support that victim advocates provide is usually tied to a crime. They help the victims with the court hearings and processes, finding a lawyer, and navigating the criminal justice system. The responsibilities of victim advocates vary depending on their work environment. They work on non-profit organizations, police stations, prisons, courts, medical facilities, and social service programs.

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13. Court Clerks

According to the Judiciary Act of 1789 authorized by the Supreme Court, court clerks can be appointed to assist the administration of federal judicial business in those courts.

Court clerks perform administrative work in the criminal and civil justice systems. They provide support to judges, attorneys, lawyers, and other officers of the court. You can find court clerks in work environments, such as district court, a court of appeals, a bankruptcy court, or the Supreme Court.

The common court clerk responsibilities include, but not limited to:

  • Maintaining court records.
  • Administering oaths to witnesses and jurors
  • Authenticating copies of the court’s orders and judgments with the court’s seal. 
  • Examining legal documents submitted to courts
  • Performing basic bookkeeping tasks.
  • Recording the minutes of meetings and court proceedings.
  • Preparing meeting agenda.

14. Crime Scene Technician

Crime scene technicians, also known as forensic science technicians or crime scene analysts, work with law enforcement to investigate crime scenes. They gather evidence, analyze data, provide reports describing the findings, and collect and preserve the physical findings found in the crime scene. 

The common duties of a crime scene technician include:

  • Collect, process, and analyze fingerprints, physical evidence as bodily fluids, and weapons.
  • Take photographs of crime scenes, physical evidence, fingerprint suspects, victims, and witnesses.
  • List and determine what and how evidence should be collected at the crime scene.
  • Collect and protect evidence for transport to the crime lab.
  • Create crime scene sketches.
  • Prepare evidence for court presentations.

Once the evidence at a crime scene has been gathered and analyzed, crime scene technicians must communicate the findings to the detectives and other law enforcement officials. They can also be called upon to testify their conclusions and collection techniques.

15. Junior Legal Assistant

The junior legal assistant job responsibilities vary from one law office to another. But generally, they support lawyers and attorneys with various tasks. This includes conducting legal research, developing case information, writing legal documents to the required legal standards, preparing hearings, trials, and meetings. 

Although they are less experienced with studying the law than senior legal assistants, junior legal assistants should be capable of understanding the main practices of their law firm to support the attorney’s trial proceedings. 

Some of the junior legal assistant job duties are the following:

  • Preparing legal documents such as responses, complaints, summons, wills, and witness summons
  • Reviewing and processing incoming and outgoing legal correspondence
  • Assisting with accounting and billing
  • Studying case law as it pertains to the type of law that is practiced by the firm
  • Coordinating appointments, including all correspondence and logistics necessary
  • Managing deadlines, billing, and general administrative duties

16. Criminal Investigator

A criminal investigator is trained to investigate crimes and crime scenes. These law enforcement professionals collect evidence and interrogate witnesses to arrest the suspects. 

They put together theories, seek the methods and motives of the crime, the criminals, and the identity of the victims. Criminal investigators should work diligently to ensure that they will apprehend the correct suspect. They solve unusual or specialized criminal cases from robbery to homicide to white-collar crimes such as fraud. 

Criminal investigators work with the local or state enforcement agencies or with legal government agencies, such as the FBI, and may work in private in the sector. They perform various tasks, including:

  • Searching for evidence at the crime scene and analyze evidence in the lab
  • Lifting and collecting fingerprints, documenting trace evidence of DNA, and writing a report of the findings
  • Interviewing witnesses, defendants, relatives, medical professionals, and law enforcement officials gathering their statements 
  • Testifying as a witness in court
  • Determining the time and cause of death
  • Examining and reviewing weapons, devices, and taking photographs, audios, and videos of the scene and pieces of evidence that can stand up in court

17. Homicide Detective

The criminal investigators and homicide detectives work on different types of crime but perform almost similar duties. Homicide detectives work closely with the crime scene investigator and are part of the murder investigation team. The cases that they investigate are more on the homicide and missing person cases. On the other hand, criminal investigators’ tasks are broader as they conduct an investigation on anything involving smuggling, kidnapping, money laundering, terrorism, fraud, and immigration, depending on their expertise.

18. Staff Attorney

Staff attorneys are associated with law degrees and passed the Bar Exam in their state who work for a law firm or another organization. They use their legal expertise to research, analyze, and write legal documents and issues. Supervised by a Senior/Junior Attorney, staff attorneys provide legal services to a law firm or an organization, and its clients, to ensure that they are provided with the right legal services. They also draft legislation and amendments for legislators, present rule review issues to the Committee on Legal Services, and attend legislative meetings. Staff attorneys may wish to pursue the position of attorney and continue in the legal profession.

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