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Careers You Can Have with a Criminal Justice Degree (Aside from Being a Cop)

Detective and Forensic Investigator

Earning a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice can prepare you for a variety of roles. While most people outside of the field may expect graduates to pursue careers as police officers, the options actually range widely and can pay more with less stress. Depending on their interests and propensity to undertake further education, students can qualify for any number of exciting career fields where they can help provide safety for those around them. These are some of the careers and salaries they may find.

Private Investigator

Average salary: $57,000

Private investigators, also called private detectives, help uncover information for law enforcement agencies or even businesses and individuals. They may help in solving a crime, unveil previously confidential information, assist in finding a missing person or perform surveillance. To become a private investigator, you must become licensed in the state you plan to provide services. Be prepared for a challenging role that requires critical thinking skills, clear communication, assertiveness and persistence. 


Average salary: $50,940

Roles as paralegals and legal assistants are growing faster than many other career options, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a paralegal, you can expect to assist lawyers with their caseload. That means that as a paralegal, you could choose from a variety of settings, like law firms, state agencies, private practices and more. To thrive in this role, you will need to have high attention to detail and excellent follow-through. While this role often only requires an associate's degree, the median annual wage is more than $50,000, leaving plenty of room for growth for those who have achieved more education, and making those who possess a bachelor’s degree more attractive candidates for the job.

FBI Agent

Average salary: $64,803

Earning a bachelor’s degree is one step in many to join the elite level of those serving as FBI agents. In addition to education, there are numerous background checks, trainings, and tests you must pass to work for the FBI. Having expertise or life experience in areas like law enforcement or military training can set you apart from other applicants as well. The majority of an agent’s time is spent investigating crimes and actively enforcing laws.

Crime Scene Investigator

Average salary: $58,230

Crime scene investigators, also called forensic science technicians, play a vital role in gathering and understanding evidence after a crime has been committed. There are many ways to qualify for this position, but most sources recommend a degree in criminal justice or natural science. You may also need additional certifications or training through a police academy. In the field, you will likely be using lab equipment to analyze the evidence gathered and then you must be able to clearly communicate your findings.

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Corrections Manager

Average salary: $64,000

A corrections manager is in charge of directing programs and operations within the correctional facility. These facilities can range from large, high-security prisons to smaller operations. According to existing job postings on Glassdoor and Indeed, this role requires regular collaboration and communication with professionals within and outside of the system who provide different support and interventions to those receiving corrections. Organizational skills are vitally important, as are proficiencies in communications and budgeting/reporting.

Fish and Game Warden

Average salary: $57,710

While fish and game wardens are considered law enforcement officers, their roles vary greatly from police officers. Their focus is on protecting and managing wildlife by preventing poaching, investigating wildlife crimes, ensuring wildlife populations are at the correct levels, and providing protection to others from dangerous wildlife. Depending on the area in which you would like to serve, you may be required to have a two- or a four-year degree, as well as attendance of a training academy designed for future fish and game wardens.

Emergency Management Coordinator

Average salary: $77,000

If you operate well under pressure and like to be prepared, a career as an emergency management coordinator may be right for you. In this role, you create plans in case of emergencies at a variety of facilities, like schools, hospitals, or government agencies, and then train others on how to follow through on the plans. You may need to assist in securing grants to acquire needed equipment. You will also need to keep up with federal regulations and network with others to ensure your procedures are up to date.

Computer Forensics Investigator

Average salary: $95,510

Getting certified as a GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst can launch your career into this relatively new and growing field. People who choose this path work in law enforcement, accounting firms, law firms, banks, and more. If spending time poring over digital records and compiling reports to help solve crimes or prevent fraud sounds exciting to you, this career may be a good fit.

Crime Prevention Specialist

Average salary: $63,380

Working in crime prevention can allow you to help individuals, businesses and organizations stay safe, prevent theft, and protect their valuable items. In this role, you may be charged with reviewing crime statistics, making suggestions on how to eliminate risk, and providing safety training. You may work in a police department or with a nonprofit organization, however, businesses may also hire consultants to guide them in protecting their assets.

Counter-Terrorism Analyst

Average salary: $89,500

Serving as a counter-terrorism analyst can allow you to prevent dangerous scenarios for others. As a counterterrorism analyst, you will likely analyze evidence, inquire about motives, and warn others about threats that exist. It will be important for you to develop skills in data visualization, communications, critical thinking and creative problem-solving. Once you identify the threat, the difference between safety and danger for others could be how you communicate the risks. Depending on whether you work in the public or private sector, you may strive to prevent terrorism at major events or in the daily operations of a business.

If any of these criminal justice degree jobs appeal to you, consider enrolling in SNU’s bachelor’s degree program designed specifically for busy adults. Classes take place one night a week or completely online, and our prior learning assessment allows you to earn college credit for what you already know. Visit our Criminal Justice page to learn more.

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