9 Careers in Criminal Justice for Degree Holders to Consider

Blue checkerboard image with several tools and icons related to criminal justice jobs.

When someone tells you that they have a degree in Criminal Justice, you might naturally assume they’re working or plan to work as a police officer, but that’s a pretty big assumption.

While it’s true that becoming a police officer is a common career path for Criminal Justice graduates, the reality is that a Criminal Justice degree can prepare you for a variety of jobs within the legal system and beyond.

So, what can you do with a Criminal Justice degree, exactly? We did a little research to give you a better understanding of the criminal justice careers this degree could lead you to. Keep reading to familiarize yourself with nine criminal justice careers available to those with the right education.

9 Criminal justice degree jobs you might not know about

We used real-time job analysis software to analyze more than 2,500 job postings from the past year that required a Criminal Justice degree.1 The data helped us identify the nine most in-demand criminal justice careers.

Here’s what we found:

1. Police patrol officer

Duties: Police patrol officers are tasked with patrolling assigned areas, enforcement of local laws and ordinances, traffic regulation and crowd control for large events.

Why it made the list: This common law enforcement role may seek out Criminal Justice graduates, particularly for those seeking leadership roles.

2021 median annual salary: $64,6102

2. Security guard

Duties: Security guards are responsible for the monitoring and maintaining of a facility’s security. Additionally, they are tasked with writing reports of daily activities or irregularities and working with public safety officials in the event of an emergency.

Why it made the list: If a building houses something valuable, odds are you’ll find at least a few security guards patrolling the area. While many security guard positions don’t require a degree, Criminal Justice degree holders should be able to flourish in these roles and work their way toward higher-level managerial security positions.

2021 median annual salary: $31,4702

3. Private detective or investigator

Duties: Private detectives and investigators conduct investigative research on subjects (often involving fraud or legal misrepresentations). They must document the information they’ve gathered and report on their findings to private individuals or businesses.

Why it made the list: Private investigators and detectives serve an important role in legal proceedings by bringing to light information that would be otherwise overlooked. Criminal Justice graduates are well versed in investigative techniques as well as criminal and privacy law, which makes them an ideal fit for this line of work.

2021 median annual salary: $59,3802

4. Correctional officer

Duties: Correctional officers work in prisons or jails and are responsible for monitoring inmates for dangerous activities, inspecting cells for contraband, weapons or security issues and maintaining the overall security of the facility.

Why it made the list: It may not be the most glamorous occupation, but jails and prisons need well-trained corrections officers to ensure both inmate and public safety are maintained.

2021 median annual salary: $47,9202

5. First-line police supervisor

Duties: The primary responsibility of first-line law enforcement supervisors is the coordination and supervision of subordinate officers during criminal investigations.

Why it made the list: These positions typically require multiple years of law enforcement experience and a solid educational background in criminal justice.

2021 median annual salary: $99,3302

6. Postsecondary criminal justice and law enforcement teachers

Duties: Criminal justice postsecondary vocational teachers, are responsible for teaching students the fundamentals of the criminal justice system. These professionals educate and train students on topics like civil rights, criminal proceedings and how to act in dangerous scenarios encountered in the field.

Why it made the list: It takes firsthand experience to adequately train law enforcement professionals. This is an excellent option for any experienced professional in the field who is looking to train and develop the next generation of criminal justice professionals.

2021 median annual salary: $59,8402

7. Criminal investigators and special agents

Duties: Criminal investigators and special agents work in specialized investigative roles within law enforcement. They may work as detectives where they gather evidence, interview suspects and pursue leads. These roles may be tailored to specific areas like narcotics or human trafficking.

Why it made the list: Criminal investigators and special agents are the members of the law enforcement community that do the deep investigative legwork that helps bring criminals to justice. These are positions within law enforcement that typically require additional experience, education and training.

2021 median annual salary: $83,6402

8. Probation officer

Duties: Probation officers work with offenders to ensure they’re meeting the terms specified in their probation or parole agreements. This means they’re responsible for administering drug tests, interviewing and reporting on the progress of offenders and also assisting them in finding help for any mental health or substance abuse issues.

Why it made the list: Part correctional officer, part social worker; this position requires a strong knowledge of the legal system and how to interact with offenders.

2021 median annual salary: $60,2502

9. Security manager

Duties: Security managers are responsible for not only maintaining the security of people, places or things, but also the management of lower-level security personnel. This includes training new security officers and assuming a hands-on role in the planning and implementation of security standards, policies and procedures.

Why it made the list: The next step in a private-security career, security managers need a strong understanding of criminal behavior and identifying security issues—which aligns very well with what is learned in a Criminal Justice degree program.

2021 median annual salary: Not available.

Is a career in criminal justice in your future?

Now you know that earning a Criminal Justice degree isn’t a dead end. The knowledge and hands-on training you’ll receive from a reputable program can be an asset for a variety of criminal justice careers. If you're ready to learn more about what can you can expect to take on in the Rasmussen University Criminal Justice program, check out our article, "10 Captivating Criminal Justice Courses to Expect."


1Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 2,638 online job postings, Jan. 11, 2017 – Jan. 10, 2018)

2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [accessed June, 2022]. www.bls.gov/oes/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience.  This data does not represent  starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Note: The Criminal Justice Programs at Rasmussen University are not designed to meet the educational requirements for professional licensure or certification in any states. This means that these program are not intended to lead to law enforcement, corrections, or other licensed careers. For example, these program do not meet the standards established by the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board for persons who seek employment as a peace officer in Minnesota, and do not meet the requirements to Certified Law Enforcement or Tribal Law Enforcement careers in Wisconsin.

Each federal, state, or local agency determines its own requirements for licensure of law enforcement careers, and may change these requirements at any time. Licensed law enforcement careers include police officer, corrections officer, parole officer, crime scene investigator, and other positions.

Minimum educational standards for licensure in these careers range from a high school diploma to a college degree, and can vary widely (even within the same state). Some agencies require graduation from an agency-approved academic program or training academy. These programs are NOT a training academy or approved program with any federal, state, or local agency. Other non-academic requirements are also required for licensure, which may include additional training, experience, graduation from an academy, physical fitness standards, background checks (certain results are often disqualifying), and other requirements.

Before enrolling, it is important to understand whether licensure is required for a desired career by consulting the appropriate federal, state, or local agency requirements.

About the author

Will Erstad

Will is a Sr. Content Specialist at Collegis Education. He researches and writes student-focused articles on a variety of topics for Rasmussen University. He is passionate about learning and enjoys writing engaging content to help current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.


Related Content

Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

logo-accreditation-acen logo-accreditation-ccne chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors-masters 0 Credits 90 Credits 180 Credits 48 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE Start Here MASTER'S DEGREE PURSUERS End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE End Here MASTER'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors 0 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS 90 Credits Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE 180 Credits End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-msn chart-credential-laddering-nursing-programs chart-credential-laddering-post-grad-np chart-credential-laddering-nursing DNP MSN RN to BSN LPN to RN Bridge Accelerated BSN Professional Nursing ADN Practical Nursing Diploma Pre-Licensure Post-Licensure icon-colored-outline-bank icon-colored-outline-certificate icon-colored-outline-circle-dollar-sign icon-colored-outline-folder-search icon-colored-outline-hand-heart icon-colored-outline-head-blocks icon-colored-outline-head-cog icon-colored-outline-head-heart icon-colored-outline-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-outline-hospital icon-colored-outline-lifelong-learning icon-colored-outline-light-bulb-analytics icon-colored-outline-location-pin icon-colored-outline-magnifying-glass icon-colored-outline-monitor-healthcare icon-colored-outline-monitor-paper-search icon-colored-outline-nurse-rays icon-colored-outline-padlock-shield icon-colored-outline-person-presenter-screen icon-colored-outline-scales ras-logo-flame ras-logo-horizontal ras-logo-stacked icon-colored-advance icon-colored-arrows-cross-curve icon-colored-briefcase-star icon-colored-build icon-colored-bulb-analytics icon-colored-certificate icon-colored-continual-development icon-colored-duo-chatbox icon-colored-folder-mortarboard icon-colored-forward-ribbon icon-colored-gears-clock icon-colored-globe-pen icon-colored-growth icon-colored-hand-bubble icon-colored-hand-stars icon-colored-hands-gear icon-colored-head-blocks icon-colored-head-cog icon-colored-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-hospital-building icon-colored-laptop-cbe-skyscraper icon-colored-laptop-checkmark icon-colored-laptop-webpage icon-colored-location-map icon-colored-location-pin icon-colored-monitor-paper-scan icon-colored-mortarboard-dollar icon-colored-national icon-colored-people-chat-bubbles icon-colored-person-cheer-star icon-colored-person-laptop-checkboxes icon-colored-person-screen-instructor icon-colored-person-whiteboard icon-colored-phone-chatbox icon-colored-police-light icon-colored-prep icon-colored-presenter icon-colored-regional icon-colored-save-time icon-colored-shirt-hat icon-colored-skyscraper icon-colored-state icon-colored-student-centered icon-colored-support icon-colored-world-experience icon-triangle-arrow-up-plant icon-triangle-calendar-pencil icon-triangle-clock-rotating-arrows icon-triangle-display-gears icon-triangle-hand-right-speech-bubble icon-triangle-laptop-coding-brackets icon-triangle-mortarboard icon-triangle-paper-ribbon icon-triangle-person-cheer-star icon-triangle-person-juggle icon-triangle-triple-people-chat-bubble icon-modality-campus icon-modality-field icon-modality-online icon-modality-residential icon-arrow icon-bank icon-camera icon-filter icon-general-chart icon-general-connect icon-general-degree icon-general-discuss icon-general-email icon-general-find icon-general-hat icon-general-heart icon-general-laptop-building icon-general-laptop icon-general-leader icon-general-map icon-general-money icon-general-paperwork icon-general-people icon-general-phone icon-general-speak-out icon-head-heart icon-info-circle icon-mail-forward icon-mglass icon-play-solid icon-quote-mark-left icon-quote-mark-right icon-scales icon-share-square-o icon-simple-chat icon-simple-desktop icon-simple-find icon-simple-hamburger icon-simple-phone icon-spinner icon-tag icon-testimonial-quotes icon-util-checkbox-white icon-util-checkbox icon-util-checked-white icon-util-checked icon-util-chevron-down icon-util-chevron-left icon-util-chevron-right icon-util-chevron-up icon-util-circle-arrow-down icon-util-circle-dot icon-util-language-switch icon-util-loading icon-util-open-window-link icon-util-pdf-link icon-util-refresh icon-util-x rebrand-arrows icon-social-facebook-colored icon-social-facebook-square-colored icon-social-facebook-square icon-social-facebook icon-social-google-plus-square icon-social-google-plus icon-social-instagram-colored icon-social-instagram icon-social-linkedin-square-colored icon-social-linkedin-square icon-social-linkedin icon-social-pinterest-p-colored icon-social-pinterest-p icon-social-twitter-colored icon-social-twitter-square icon-social-twitter icon-social-youtube-play-colored icon-social-youtube-play graduate-cap-star-coin hand-coin hand-heart nurse-stethoscope-rays card-send-smile person-yoga-pose suitcase-star