Many people want to have a meaningful impact on the world, and if you pursue a career in criminal justice, you have the power to do exactly that. So when considering what the best criminal justice jobs are, there's more to think about than just salary. It's also important to ask yourself what career you would find most personally fulfilling.
Do you want to serve your local community or make a difference at the national level? Are you willing to take risks and put yourself into dangerous situations, or would you prefer to analyze evidence and solve crimes from the safety of a lab environment or office?
No matter what you choose, there are many criminal justice careers that will allow you to create a more just world. Here are just a few of the career options we think stand out in the field of criminal justice.
Top 10 Criminal Justice Jobs
- Lawyer:1 One of the highest-paid and highest-profile criminal justice careers, becoming a lawyer also allows you to choose a specialty from a diverse range of options. You may represent clients in criminal or civil trials, and in fields as varied as insurance, intellectual property, public interest, or environmental law, among other fields. However, you'll first need to complete an undergraduate degree and three years of law school before advancing to the bar exam.
- FBI agent:2 Some crimes, such as terrorism, organized crime or drug trafficking can be a matter of national security. The FBI conducts investigations of crime at this level to keep the country safe. To become an FBI agent, it can help to have military experience and/or speak more than one language, skills that are particularly useful in this field.
- Private investigator/detective:1 Two distinct career paths fall under the label of detective—police detectives, who are part of law enforcement, and private investigators, who tend to work independently for individual clients. These two paths have different responsibilities and requirements, but what they both have in common is that they're perfect for individuals with analytical minds who enjoy gathering different pieces of evidence to solve a crime or other mystery.
- Criminologist:2 Rather than solving individual crimes, criminologists seek to determine why people commit crimes and then devise ways to prevent crime from happening in the future. If you are interested in statistics and mathematics and want to conduct research that will improve lives and reduce crime on a larger scale, being a criminologist may be the best criminal justice career option for you.
- Criminal profiler:3 These individuals use information from crime scenes to determine what personal characteristics a criminal suspect may have, based on criminology, psychology and behavioral science. They're an important part of an investigative team, and their work helps track down criminals and prevent further crime.
- Digital forensics expert:3 A rise in cybercrimes has made digital experts an essential part of law enforcement. If you're good with technology, consider a career in digital forensics, where you'll analyze digital evidence to catch and convict cybercriminals.
- Secret service agent:4 Perhaps unsurprisingly, becoming a secret service agent requires a great deal of specialized training and rigorous testing, and a full background investigation to qualify for top-secret clearance. This job involves protecting some of the most important political figures in the country, and can be an exciting, high-risk career.
- Police officer:1 Law enforcement officers keep communities safe, fighting crime and maintaining public order. Becoming a police officer requires extensive training, including classroom study and hands-on physical training. If you want to be on the front line of stopping crime and protecting public safety, being a police officer may be the best criminal justice job for you.
- Victim advocate:1 While this career path is not the highest-paying choice and can be emotionally challenging, it is among the most personally rewarding. Victim advocates support clients who have experienced abuse or other violent crimes, connecting them to resources, accompanying them to court hearings, and helping them through the process of recovering from trauma. In this role, you can make a difference in the lives of people who need someone on their side.
- U.S. Marshal:5 As our country’s oldest and most versatile federal law enforcement agency, Federal Marshals have served the U.S. since 1789, frequently in unseen but significant ways. To this day, the Marshals maintain a uniquely central position in the federal justice system. The Marshals are the enforcement arm of the federal courts, which means they are included in practically every federal law enforcement initiative. The agency’s headquarters is just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.; however, presidentially appointed U.S. Marshals direct the actions of 94 districts — one for each federal judicial district. More than 3,752 Deputy Marshals and Criminal Investigators form the backbone of the agency. They have many functions, including but not limited to apprehending more than half of all federal fugitives, protecting the federal judiciary, running the Witness Security Program, conveying federal prisoners and securing property acquired by criminals through illegal activities.
Many of the most fulfilling and highest-paying criminal justice jobs require extensive study and considerable expertise. The online Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice program at Kent State University can prepare you for leadership roles and demanding positions, no matter where your criminal justice career leads you.
1. Retrieved on December 8, 2019, from https://www.bestcollegesonline.org/highest-paying-jobs/top-10-criminal-justice-careers/
2. Retrieved on December 8, 2019, from https://www.criminaljusticedegreehub.com/top-masters-level-criminal-justice-jobs/
3. Retrieved on December 8, 2019, from https://www.thebalancecareers.com/the-most-interesting-jobs-in-criminal-justice-974536
4. Retrieved on December 8, 2019, from https://study.com/articles/Become_a_Secret_Service_Agent_Step-by-Step_Career_Guide.html
5. Retrieved on December 8, 2019, from usmarshals.gov/duties/