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Careers You Can Start With a Criminal Justice Degree

Careers You Can Start With A Criminal Justice Degree

Criminal Justice is a diverse field that includes everything from law enforcement to legal work. Having a two or four-year degree in Criminal Justice opens up many doors. Here are five jobs that you can land with a degree in Criminal Justice. Find a criminal justice program now.

5 Careers You Can Start With A Criminal Justice Degree

Here's a list of 5 different careers you can get into with your criminal justice degree.

Police Officer

Police officers are the public’s first defense against crime and danger. On a daily basis, they enforce laws to keep people safe, arrest criminal suspects, and testify in court when needed.

Police officers must have a thorough knowledge of laws and standards of ethics. Being a police officer is a demanding position which comes with great responsibility and even greater rewards.

Many, if not most, police officers earn a two-year degree in Criminal Justice before then attending the Police Academy. Some, however, earn a four-year degree before joining the force. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average pay for police officers was $70,750 in 2021.


Paralegals work closely with attorneys on legal cases. They must be familiar with federal and state laws, court systems, and properly constructing legal arguments.

Paralegals help lawyers organize documents and evidence to compose cases and help them meet deadlines. They also draft documents like wills and contracts. Paralegals can even interview witnesses and conduct research like a lawyer.

Though paralegals can do many things lawyers can, they aren’t a technical substitute for lawyers. In most states, they do not become licensed and cannot practice law alone.

Paralegals can usually land a job with a two-year degree in fields like Criminal Justice or Paralegal Studies. Some employers may require a four-year degree in Criminal Justice or a related field in addition to a certificate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average pay for paralegals was $58,330 in 2021.

Private Investigator

Private Investigator is a job many have heard of, but few are familiar with. Investigators are tasked with finding information about people or compiling evidence for various organizations and clients.

The work environment varies from job to job: some work online looking for information about individuals, while others covertly take photos to collect evidence.

Education requirements for Private Investigators varies. Most places of work, however, require a two-year degree in Criminal Justice. All Private Investigators must be licensed in their state.

Because they are not Police Officers, they cannot enforce laws and must be wary of how they choose to investigate. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the average pay for private investigators was $60,970 in 2021.

DEA Agent

DEA Agents work for the Drug Enforcement Agency, a federal agency. They are tasked with tracking and busting illegal drug trades and cartels across the country. These agents gather evidence against major drug violators, perform arrests, seize contraband, and work with local law enforcement to keep communities free from illegal drugs.

DEA Agents are an elite force that work all over the world. The conditions each day vary widely and can be dangerous. The salary of a DEA Agent varies widely based on location.

DEA Agents typically have Graduate degrees in fields like Criminal Justice. However, the minimum requirement to join the force is a four-year degree in Criminal Justice, or a related field with relevant experience.

Parole and Probation Officer

Parole and Probation Officers serve very similar roles. When felons are released from prison, they must go on parole. This is a period of time in which the former inmate must abide by special rules and readjust to freedom for an amount of time. Similarly, Probation is when a criminal is not put in prison as punishment, but is allowed to live freely under certain rules.

Both Parole and Probation officers are responsible for monitoring parolees and probationers during this time, enforcing these rules and determining if the parolee/probationer should go to prison for rules violations. In some states they also serve as support, giving advice on how to stay out of trouble.

Work conditions for Parole and Probation Officers vary widely depending on case locations and employer. Both Parole and Probation Officers typically earn a Bachelor's or a four-year degree in Criminal Justice or a related field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average salary for parole/probation officers was $63,290 in 2021.

Criminal Justice Programs

Criminal Justice programs generally come in 2 types, associate's and bachelor's degrees. An accredited program can be taken in the classroom or online. An associate's degree program takes about 2 years to complete and a bachelor's degree takes about 4 years to earn.

Schools with Criminal Justice Programs

We work with quite a few schools offering criminal justice programs, here's some of these schools and the types of programs they offer.

A degree in Criminal Justice opens doors to many careers, each one unique and challenging. Think you have what it takes? Learn more about the programs in our criminal justice programs guide.