You were fascinated by superheroes as a kid. Time after time, heroes like Batman and Superman would swoop in to save the day, and good would always triumph over evil. Your childhood dream of being Batman when you grew up may have changed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still work in a field that allows you to make the world a better place.
Criminal justice careers are home to real-life superheroes who spend their days protecting citizens and ensuring that justice is served. You may think of police officers when you think of criminal justice, but there are plenty of other options for those who want to pursue a career in this field.
We rounded up eight worthwhile criminal justice careers that might be right for you, even if becoming a police officer isn’t up your alley. Take a look—one of these could just be your next job title.
8 Criminal justice careers worth considering
1. Probation or parole officer
2016 Median annual salary: $50,160*
What they do: Probation officers work with people who have been placed on probation instead of sent to jail or prison, while parole officers help people who have recently been released from prison to assimilate to everyday life. Both types of officers work closely with their charges, frequently visiting them to offer counsel, monitor their progress and ensure that they’re not a danger to society. They’ll also connect them with any additional resources they may need, such as drug rehabilitation or job-seeking assistance.
How they impact their community: Probation and parole officers act as guides for those under their supervision. They work hard to keep probationers on the right path so they can create a new life for themselves and become contributing members of the community.
2. Correctional officer
2016 Median annual salary: $42,820*
What they do: Correctional officers oversee inmates who are serving time in jail or prison, as well as those who have been arrested and are still awaiting trial. They maintain a safe and secure prison environment by knowing the whereabouts of the inmates, breaking up disagreements, searching for contraband and preventing escapes.
How they impact their community: These criminal justice workers are often able to get to know the inmates in their charge. Not only do they help keep inmates safe while serving time, they may also help inmates through rehabilitation by setting up educational presentations or work assignments.
3. Intelligence analyst
2016 Median annual salary: $78,120*
What they do: Intelligence analysts, also known as crime analysts, are the super sleuths who gather evidence through surveillance and other intelligence networks to stop crimes before they happen. They put all their skills to work, so they can prevent crimes like money laundering, drug-related violence and terrorism.
How they impact their community: Intelligence analysts are the unsung heroes of the criminal justice world, keeping us safe in ways we’ll never know about. These crime-solving pros handle the difficult task of staying one step ahead of those who would cause harm, making them a valuable part of any community.
4. Private investigator
2016 Median annual salary: $48,190*
What they do: When a private party needs a mystery solved, these private eyes are on the case. Private investigators work with organizations or individuals to uncover information about everything from marital infidelity to financial fraud. They follow digital paper trails, interview witnesses, go undercover and perform surveillance to get to the bottom of whatever case comes their way.
How they impact their community: Private investigators are a valuable resource for people who have been victimized or who suspect a crime. These criminal justice professionals help right wrongs for ordinary citizens in significant ways, such as reuniting a missing person with their family. They can play an instrumental role in assisting those who feel they’ve been wronged in civil cases as well.
5. Security guard
2016 Median annual salary: $25,840*
What they do: Security guards work to protect their employers from theft, vandalism, trespassing and other illegal activity. These men and women can work anywhere from casinos to schools to government agencies. They monitor surveillance cameras, patrol their assigned areas for suspicious activity and verify that only people with the proper authority gain access to restricted areas.
How they impact their community: These guards are often the first line of defense in public places, protecting businesses against theft and innocent civilians against banned weapons or other harmful threats.
6. Park ranger
2016 Median annual salary: $60,610*
What they do: Park rangers are the guardians of our natural resources, including state and national parks and forests. It’s their job to create educational and safe programs for those who wish to explore the wilderness. They point out natural and historic features, plan events and keep both visitors and the environment safe from harm.
How they impact their community: Nature’s wonders are well worth exploring, and it’s thanks to park rangers that we are able to do so safely. From clearing paths to warning visitors about hazards, park rangers ensure that everyone is able to safely enjoy the great outdoors.
2016 Median annual salary: $49,500*
What they do: Paralegals are part of the support team that assists lawyers in preparing for trial. They conduct legal research, gather evidence, prepare reports, file legal documents and schedule meetings with witnesses.
How they impact their community: Paralegals play a vital part in making sure that justice is served and the truth comes to light during trials. Their hard work, organization and stellar research skills are often the foundation of a winning case.
8. Crime scene investigator
2016 Median annual salary: $56,750*
What they do: Crime scene investigators, or forensic science technicians, are part of the crime-solving team you see on TV using science to catch the bad guys. They analyze crime scenes, properly gather and tag evidence, and use DNA and fingerprints to piece together the details of who’s who at a crime scene. They often work with other specialists to get to the bottom of a case.
How they impact their community: CSI is a vital part of the investigation process. Without their carefully collected evidence and detailed forensic techniques, investigators would be at a disadvantage in identifying the culprit and keeping the community safe.
Your criminal justice career awaits
You can be a real life superhero thanks to these criminal justice careers. Now that you know all the options that await you, find out how a criminal justice degree can help you get there with our article, “What Can You Do with a Criminal Justice Degree?”
*Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.