What Jobs Can You Get with a Degree in Criminal Justice?

Published by Hope Nelson 4 months ago on Thu, Nov 2, 2023 8:06 AM

So you’ve started college and decided to major in criminal justice. Congratulations! Criminal justice is a highly versatile major that can lead to a career in many specialized areas – but what exactly are these areas, and how do you work toward getting there? The criminal justice major at Concordia University, Nebraska will prepare you for a life of service to your community as you learn about all aspects of the legal system, how to navigate it, and how to uphold it.  

Many criminal justice students pursue their degree with a plan to work in the law enforcement sector. In fact, just under 50% of police officers have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. But many students who are interested in the law and justice system do not go on to become police officers or corrections officers. From legal to scientific professions, students interested in criminal justice can find careers in many diverse sectors of the workforce.  

Even within the field of law enforcement, students have many options when they are choosing a career. Police officers, who keep communities safe by receiving and responding to calls, patrolling different areas, and even making arrests, make around $55,000 and can be employed in virtually any region of the United States. Corrections officers, who earn about $40,000, also have this flexibility in location but will work in correctional facilities instead.  

Law enforcement officers of various types also have some choice in the populations with which they would like to interact. For example, juvenile corrections officers often work in designated juvenile detention centers and make $50,000 annually. These law enforcement officers work with youth delinquent populations who need guidance in making the right choices that will allow them to flourish in society.  

Criminal justice students who are more interested in the investigation of crime scenes rather than the people who created them may be more drawn to a career in forensics or investigation. Private investigators, who earn an annual salary of about $51,000, may conduct research or interviews, review surveillance, and provide reports for clients. They may work for businesses, detective firms, police departments, or even individual clients.  

There are also many career paths in criminal justice that students can pursue more easily with a double major, minor, or declaration of a pre-professional program. Forensic science is one such field. Students who double major in criminal justice along with a physical science-related field, such as chemistry or biology, will be well-qualified to enter the workforce or graduate school in the forensic sciences. These scientists, who earn anywhere from $65,000 to $80,000 each year, analyze evidence from crime scenes that can be used to exonerate or indict suspects.   

Legal professions are another popular choice for criminal justice majors who choose to enroll in a pre-law program at their undergraduate institution. While law schools do not require applicants to obtain a bachelor’s degree in any certain field, criminal justice is a straightforward choice for students who wish to gain skills in communication, empathy, and further their understanding of the American legal system. Many pre-law students end up working as lawyers or attorneys and may earn anywhere from $68,000 as a public defender to $90,000 or above as a private lawyer, and even over $190,000 at some larger law firms.  

Beyond these, there are even more fields in which criminal justice students may end up, especially if they pair their criminal justice degree with another major or minor during their undergraduate studies. For example, students interested in cybersecurity may choose to double major or minor in computer science or information technology. A student who is interested in the legal aspects of environmental issues may choose a double major in environmental science. Many criminal justice students often take courses in psychology and behavioral science as well, whether they want to enter this field as a forensic psychologist or social worker, or just want extra knowledge of the psychological processes behind criminal behavior. The possibilities for specialization within the overarching field of criminal justice are truly endless.  

Whether you are a student who is set on a specific career within the field of criminal justice or one with an interest in the topic but no idea where to start when looking at careers, a major in criminal justice at Concordia University, Nebraska will prepare you with the skills you need to work in one of a multitude of unique jobs in the field.  

Interested in studying criminal justice at Concordia? Learn more here.