Criminal justice is an interdisciplinary major where you study everything from psychology and technical writing to law and computer science. Upon completion of a criminal justice degree, you're equipped with skills to work in a number of fields within the private and public sector. Here are four promising careers for a criminal justice major.
1. Detective/Criminal Investigator
The majority of criminal justice graduates end up in law enforcement, doing anything from patrol officer to detective work. If you're already a police officer, know that a criminal justice degree makes you a more attractive candidate to be promoted to detective.
The detective field is very important in solving major crimes within a city or state. As a detective, you interview people and witnesses, collect evidence, and build a case to make arrests that help keep a community and city safe.
In addition, the pay and benefits are competitive, as the average salary in America hovers around 80,000 dollars. Better yet, you don't have to wear a uniform—you can wear jeans to work.
2. Forensics Specialist
This is a very lucrative and attractive career if you pursue a forensics degree in combination with a criminal justice degree. Studying physics, biology, chemistry, or psychology can turn you into an ideal candidate at any crime department; it makes you knowledgeable of crime as well as the science behind it.
Jobs you could grab include forensics psychologist, blood pattern analyst, forensics science technician, or ballistics expert. As a forensics specialist, you'll look at a crime scene, see what transpired, and give detectives a detailed account of what happened. This position requires a lot of technical skills and great analytical capabilities.
Jobs in forensics generally pay in the six-figure range and up, making it one of the higher paying jobs for criminal justice majors.
3. Private Investigator
The private investigation field includes everything from investigating affairs to helping companies look into employee theft. This career option has become increasingly popular, as more and more businesses and people are using private investigation services.
If you have a good business sense, a career in private investigation could be perfect for you, especially if you know how to sell your services to clients. Lawyers often employ private investigators to help them track down information and find witnesses. Insurance companies sometimes use private agents to investigate possible insurance fraud.
For this career, it's important that you get licensed and also gain experience by working at a more experienced investigator's firm first. After you learn the ropes, you can start your own business. While the median salary for private investigators is 46,000 dollars, there's plenty of opportunities to earn well beyond that figure—especially if you start your own company. If you plan on doing this, consider taking a few business courses to learn the financial basics of running an enterprise.
4. Legal Assistant
According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field is growing and will continue to grow over the next decade and beyond. A criminal justice major provides you with the skills to help attorneys prepare legal files and other materials for a case. The general salary ranges from 40,000 to 55,000 dollars, but that figure can vary depending on whether you work for the public or at a private law firm.
Get Your Criminal Justice Career Moving
With a criminal justice degree, keep in mind that there are plenty of unique, exciting opportunities open to you. Better yet, most of these opportunities are high paying and offer attractive benefits.
Also, remember that a Bachelor's degree—along with a professional, well-written resume—will help you get your foot in the door. The criminal justice field is highly competitive, so adding other skills can catapult your career to new and exciting levels. The more you can offer an agency or business, the further that criminal justice major can take you.