At first glance, you might think that a criminal justice degree leads to just few careers. And while many criminal justice graduates go on to become police officers, probation officers, or attorneys, there are many other avenues you can pursue for a career in this field.
In this guide, we highlight eight excellent career options, each of which you can begin with a degree in criminal justice. Some of these careers only require an associate’s degree, whileothers necessitate additional schooling. But, if you’re ready to put in the time to get educated, these degrees can lead to fulfilling criminal justice careers.
A corrections officer works in jails and prisons and supervises inmates. In some situations, corrections officers only need a high school diploma or GED, plus necessary training.
But some corrections careers (e.g., those in federal prisons) might require that you minimum have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a closely related field. The benefit of getting a degree in criminal justice is that it gives you insight into how the corrections system is designed, why policies and procedures are in place, and helps you develop the work ethic and skills needed to be successful in this type of work environment.
As an intelligence analyst, you must conduct careful and thorough research that’s used to formulate important decisions about criminal behavior.
For example, an intelligence analyst might work with sources in jails and prisons to gain information about criminal activity that’s taking place outside the prison walls. As another example, you might gather evidence regarding illegal activity that can be used by policymakers to adjust, amend, or replace existing laws to better address the types of crime in question.
The skills needed to gather and examine evidence can be developed as you pursue a degree in criminal justice, along with many other pertinent skills, like effective communication, investigative skills, working as a member of a team, and learning the ins and outs of relevant laws.
Substance Abuse Counselor
There’s no doubt that many of the people involved in the criminal justice system are there because of a substance abuse problem. So, it stands to reason that a degree in criminal justice can help you start a career in substance abuse counseling.
Many substance abuse counselors need to have additional training, like a degree in psychology. However, majoring in criminal justice gives you insight into the effect that drugs have on criminal behavior, relevant laws and statutes that govern drug use, and a better understanding of how drug cases are prosecuted. All of that information can help you better serve your clients as they work to get clean.
Juvenile Probation Agent
As the job title states, a juvenile probation agent works specifically with children that have been convicted of a crime.
Aside from traditional supervisory duties, juvenile probation agents are responsible for:
- Testing their clients for drugs
- Working with schools to keep the child in school
- Working with parents to adjust the home environment for better supervision
- Meeting with the client to discuss goals
Juvenile probation agents might also conduct small group counseling for juveniles convicted of similar offenses.
You can’t become an attorney with a degree in criminal justice, but having a background in criminal justice is an excellent idea, particularly if you want to be a defense attorney.
In many cases, you can get a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and then go on to law school, where you’ll build upon that foundation of criminal justice studies. In law school, you might specialize in criminal law, civil law, tort law, or any number of other areas.
To be an attorney, you need above-average communication and research skills. You’ll begin to develop those skills during your criminal justice degree program.
A bailiff typically works in a courtroom and maintains order (in fact, they say “Order in the court” when the judge enters the room).
It’s the bailiff’s job to bring defendants into the court, escort plaintiffs and witnesses into the courtroom, and oversee the jury to ensure they are obeying the rules of the court. Bailiffs are also responsible for handling evidence that’s presented in a case. So, when an attorney would like to refer to a piece of evidence, the bailiff will retrieve the evidence and display it or hand it to the jury for inspection.
If you enjoy learning and want to teach younger generations about criminal justice, you might consider becoming a college professor.
Professors need more than a degree in criminal justice. Usually, they have practical, real-world experience working in this field in addition to having an advanced degree, like a doctorate.
As a college professor, you will teach courses as well as conduct research in criminal justice. Many educational institutes require their professors to actively contribute to the body of research in their particular field.
Agencies like the FBI and DEA often hire agents that have a background in criminal justice. A criminal justice degree is a good foundation for this type of work because of its emphasis on interstate laws. Federal agencies investigate crimes that happen across state lines, so using your education to learn about the special relationship between state and federal authorities will be a good way to work towards this career.