Criminal justice jobs


Criminal justice is one of the hottest fields right now, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects faster than average job growth in both the public and private sectors over the next few years. Over a couple of posts, I will profile the top jobs in the criminal justice field, focusing on what the jobs entail, the salaries, and the education required.

Police Officers

I’ll start with the career most people think of when they hear the words “criminal justice”: police officers. Police officers are responsible for enforcing the laws in their jurisdiction. Most police officers work for state and local governments, though there are also jobs available in federal agencies and in the private sector. The median salary for police officers is currently about $55,000. To become a police officer, you must have at least a high school diploma or GED and graduate from a training academy. Although post-secondary education is not required, most local and state agencies prefer candidates who have taken courses in criminal justice or law enforcement. In addition, a diploma, certificate, or degree from an accredited criminal justice school may be required for promotions.

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Professionals in probation and correctional treatment work with people who have committed crimes so that they don’t commit new ones. These criminal justice professionals are responsible for evaluating offenders, arranging treatment, and supervising their progress. There are several jobs that fall under this category. For example, probation officers monitor people who are on probation, parole officers monitor people who have recently gotten out of jail, and case managers provide counseling and rehabilitation for offenders after their release from prison. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earn salaries of around $50,000, and this field is expected to experience about 18 percent growth through 2020. Most agencies require candidates for these jobs to have at least a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, social work, or a related field, as well as some work experience. A master’s degree is required to advance into leadership roles or management positions.

Detectives and Investigators

Many graduates of criminal justice schools become detectives or criminal investigators, either for police agencies or in the private sector. Detectives and investigators gather and analyze evidence from crime scenes or about personal matters. For example, private detectives may search for missing persons or run background checks for employers. Depending on whether they are in the public or private sector, detectives and investigators make between $42,000 and $55,000 per year. Although a degree is not required and the majority of the training is provided on the job, most detectives and investigators have taken at least some post-secondary courses in criminal justice.

The next article will profile some more hot jobs in the criminal justice field.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Police and Detectives.Occupational Outlook Handbook.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists.Occupational Outlook Handbook.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Private detectives and investigators.Occupational Outlook Handbook.

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