A criminal justice degree program can help students understand the criminal justice system as well as criminological theories that explore causes of crime. Students are able to conduct criminological research and both interpret and present findings.
Most criminal justice graduates pursue law enforcement careers as police officers, deputy sheriffs and state troopers. But what are some other possible career paths in the field of criminal justice?
A private investigator is a self-employed, freelance investigator who performs many of the same tasks and responsibilities of a police officer. Civil support is a common area of practice for private investigators. PIs work for civil law firms and help research and investigate facts that can help a lawyer win a lawsuit. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that private investigators make an average annual income of $45,610. Employment of PIs is expected to increase 5 percent by 2024.
Private security guards often take on the role of a police officer for private companies, buildings and individuals. They are tasked with serving and protecting their clients, though they are not considered police. However, they often work with law enforcement officers and other armed forces to ensure safety. The BLS reports that the average salary for a security guard is $24,680 a year. However, these positions come with flexible schedules and other perks.
Fraud investigators often work for insurance companies. They research possible fraudulent or criminal activity. This can include arson, staged accidents and unnecessary medical treatments. Like most investigators, fraud investigators spend most of their time in surveillance and research situations. A background in criminal justice can help prospective fraud investigators by equipping them with an understanding of the criminal mind. The BLS reports that those who work for insurance companies make an average salary of $61,620, while those who work for other management companies make $60,680.
Those who wish to pursue a career as a legal assistant can benefit from an undergraduate degree in criminal justice. Legal assistants who work for public defenders may benefit most from a background in criminal justice because they represent individuals charged with a crime. Paralegals and legal assistants make a median wage of $48,810 a year.