Alternative Jobs for Criminal Justice Majors

Last Updated on December 22, 2022

What about those of you who want to be cops and yet your education and interest is not in criminal justice? You may be one of those people who want the “good” jobs and salaries but don’t want to be a cop. Yet, before you yell and scream and soil your undergarment, think: There are lots of careers in criminal justice that make good money – but they are not what you’d expect.

The criminal justice degree prepares students for various kinds of careers. If you are interested in pursuing a job in the field of law, working as an investigator or probation officer (or even becoming a district attorney) then there are ample jobs to be had. But, if you do not wish to enter the legal profession, that does not mean that you can’t find equally exciting careers. The following guide will help lead you towards alternative jobs

Some job titles that you could consider include conservation officer, constable, correctional officer, criminal investigator, deputy sheriff, humane law enforcement officer, game warden, marshal, park ranger, police officer, probation officer, parole officer, and special agent.

25 Jobs You Can Get with a Criminal Justice Degree

Are you a criminal justice major who is looking for an alternative career path? Or are you just looking to get into the criminal justice industry, but want to explore your options before committing yourself to one job? Here’s a list of jobs in the criminal justice industry that may pique your interest.

  1. Private Investigator

Being a private investigator can be rewarding, lucrative, and very challenging. You’ll need to become licensed in some states, but this will vary depending on where you live.

  1. Crime Scene Analyst

A crime scene analyst handles a lot of different aspects of a crime scene, from the initial walkthrough to finding and documenting evidence, photographing the scene, and more. If you’re looking for a lucrative career that also has lots of opportunity for growth, look no further!

  1. Forensic Animator

Forensic animators create animations based on 3D reconstructions or models of crime scenes and other relevant data points. You’ll need excellent computer skills for this job!

  1. Criminal Attorney

While it’s not necessary to have a criminal justice degree to be a criminal attorney, it certainly doesn’t hurt! Criminal attorneys represent clients who are facing charges in court cases related to crimes they have been accused of committing.

Alternative Jobs For Criminal Justice Majors

There are some jobs similar to police officers, and there are others that work alongside them within the justice system. Learn more about the options—one of them could just be your next job title.

1. Probation or parole officer

Probation officers work with people who have been placed on probation instead of being sent to jail or prison, while parole officers help people who have recently been released from prison to assimilate to everyday life. Both criminal justice professionals 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 do they impact their community? Probation and parole officers act as guides for those under their supervision. They work hard to keep former offenders on the right path so they can create a new life for themselves and become contributing members of the community.

2. Court clerk

While not the most hands-on job in the criminal justice field, court clerks play an important role in keeping legal proceedings moving. They are responsible for handling a variety of administrative and clerical duties in a courthouse. They prepare the daily docket of cases, record depositions, process payments for court fees and more.
How do they impact their community? Without a well-functioning facility to hold trials and legal proceedings, the justice system gets bogged down. Court clerks are the under-the-radar professionals who ensure courthouses operate smoothly. This role might not capture headlines for good work being done, but they remain a critically important piece of the puzzle.

3. Intelligence analyst

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 do they impact their community? Intelligence analysts are the unsung heroes of the criminal justice world, keeping us safe in ways we may never know about. These crime-solving pros handle the difficult task of staying one step ahead of those who would otherwise cause harm, making them a valuable part of any community.

4. Private investigator

When a private party needs a mystery solved, these private eyes are on the case. Private investigators are hired directly by 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 do 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

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 shopping malls 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 do 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

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 do 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.

7. Paralegal

Paralegals are part of the support team that assists attorneys in preparing for trial. Their duties include conducting legal research, gathering evidence, preparing reports, filing legal documents and scheduling meetings with witnesses.
How do 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.

If you’re a Criminal Justice major, you’ve probably heard (or felt) the pressure to go into law enforcement. But the world is your oyster! There are so many options for how you can use your degree and your education that it would be impossible to list them all. Here are some of our favorites.

  1. Subrogation Specialist: These professionals work to recover money owed by a third party who is responsible for an insurance claim. They may also be responsible for investigating claims of fraud within the company or by an insured party.
  2. Claims Adjuster: These professionals investigate insurance claims and work out a settlement with the claimant based on the amount of damage, cost of repairs, the policy limits, and other relevant information.
  3. Private Investigator: This profession involves investigating on behalf of individuals or organizations in order to provide evidence regarding criminal activity, marital infidelity, and other illegal activities related to employment matters or legal cases such as divorce proceedings.

jobs in criminal justice without being a cop

1. Parole And Probation Officers

Every state has some version of probation and parole (P&P) officers. The functions might be split, so there are probation officers and parole officers, but none who perform both functions. The job may also be characterized as “community corrections.” The employer might be a county-level probation department, or the P&P officer might work for the state department of prisons or corrections.

2. Alcohol Beverage Control

Most states have some agency that polices businesses with a license to sell alcohol. “On sale” licensees take in bars and restaurants where alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises. “Off-sale” licensees are liquor, grocery and convenience stores that sell canned and bottled alcoholic beverages for consumption at home or elsewhere. A few states restrict off sales to state-owned liquor stores.

Alcohol beverage control (ABC) officers investigate establishments that are selling alcohol without a license or are selling to underage customers. They may also get involved when a business is “overserving” or selling alcohol to customers who are already clearly intoxicated.

3. Fire Marshals

Fire marshals typically work for a city or county fire department, although they may be employed by a state-level agency. They investigate fire scenes where arson is suspected. They may also be required to visit and enforce occupancy limit requirements on businesses such as nightclubs and concert venues. This latter function can involve some personal risk, as people can get more than irate when they’re having a good time, are a little drunk and are told they must leave the overcrowded premises.

4. Community Service Officers

Community service officers (CSOs) work in law enforcement agencies as police officer extenders or augments. They handle calls for service when there is no anticipated threat to the CSO’s or police officer’s safety. These include “cold” burglaries and other crime reports where the crime appears to have occurred hours or days before, and it’s unlikely there is any suspect on the premises. They may take reports on non-injury traffic accidents, or direct traffic when a signal light goes out or during a special event. By handling calls that are time-consuming but don’t require all the skills or powers of a regular police officer, CSOs leverage the personnel resources of the agency.

5. Evidence Technicians

Somewhere between the crime scene investigators that you see on TV shows and warehouse inventory clerks, a non-sworn evidence technician has their skill set. Evidence technicians are mainly responsible for keeping the agency’s evidence repository organized.

When a police officer recovers physical evidence from a crime scene, they take it to the agency’s evidence room or locker and log it in. This is sometimes called “vouchering” the evidence. The officer fills out a form or paper tag that describes the item of evidence, the case number, and the time and date. The evidence item is then secured in a locker reserved for that purpose. Physical evidence can be anything from illegal drugs to a firearm.

criminal justice careers and salaries

Criminal justice and law jobs require research, analysis, and communication skills. Most professionals in the field also need at least a fundamental knowledge of current laws and regulations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for all legal occupations was $80,810 in 2018, significantly higher than the median salary of $38,640 for all occupations. The table below highlights a few of the highest-paying criminal justice jobs.

Judges and Hearing Officers$117,1906%
Police and Detectives$63,3805%
Private Detectives and Investigators$50,0908%

Types of criminal justice degree majors

Because criminal justice is such a broad industry, there are many different types of criminal justice degrees and certifications you can pursue. Some majors require a bachelor’s degree, some require an associate-level degree and others only require certification. The following list includes the different degree majors you can choose from within criminal justice.

  1. Corrections
  2. Criminology
  3. Forensic science
  4. Police science
  5. Prelaw studies
  6. Criminal justice
  7. Sociology
  8. Criminal psychology
  9. Law enforcement administration
  10. Rehabilitation

1. Corrections major

As a corrections major, students study prison life and prepare for roles in prison and jail facilities. While most majors graduate and start careers in prison facilities, others choose to take a scholarly role in research within this industry.

Degree level: Associate degree

2. Criminology major

As a criminology major, students focus on the nature and causes of crime, criminal behavior and the criminal justice system. Majoring in criminology will also prepare you for analyzing case studies, understanding crime theory, criminal law and policy, applying research methods and understanding psychology’s and sociology’s roles within criminology and criminal justice.

Degree level: Bachelor’s degree

3. Forensic science major

Forensic science encompasses a variety of skills that prepare students for work in crime scene investigation, computer forensics investigations, cybersecurity, forensic analysis and research. This is a growing job field, and several degree options are available, depending on your focus study within forensics. For example, a crime scene technician only requires a certificate whereas a computer forensics major pursues a bachelor’s degree.

Degree level: Certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree and higher

Administration of Justice Degree vs. Criminal Justice Degree | Maryville  Online

4. Police science major

Consider majoring in police science if a career in police work interests you. As a student of police science, you will study every aspect of a police officer’s job duties including investigating crimes, developing interpersonal communication skills and protocols for responding to intense situations. Some police science majors lead to an associate degree or higher, such as police and border patrol majors, while others lead to bachelor’s degrees or higher, like private detective coursework.

Degree level: Certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree

5. Pre-law and legal major

Majoring in pre-law and legal studies usually leads to a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, with a focus on skills relevant to paralegal and attorney job roles. As a student in a pre-law program, you will learn about theories behind laws, the justice system and examine how law enforcement agencies and the judicial system operate.

Degree level: Bachelor’s degree

6. Criminal justice major

Criminal justice degrees encompass a wide array of majors ranging from certificate programs for law enforcement and corrections to bachelor’s programs for paralegals and private detectives. Overall, a criminal justice degree will provide you with a foundation for further and more specific studies within the industry.

Degree level: Certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree

7. Sociology major

Sociology majors who focus on criminal justice start with an associate program in criminal justice, followed by a bachelor’s program focusing on sociology. This major can provide opportunities for career development within fields such as human services, rehabilitation services and public relations.

Degree level: Associate degree, bachelor’s degree

8. Criminal psychology major

Criminal psychology focuses on criminal behavior, that is, the background and motives of a criminal. This major requires study within a bachelor’s program, where students focus on theories of human behavior, analyzing and interpreting criminal behavior and activity. A bachelor’s program for criminal psychology majors can lead to graduate degrees in criminal psychology.

Degree level: Bachelor’s degree, master’s degree

9. Law enforcement administration major

Law enforcement administration majors usually have previous law enforcement experience and learn the skills necessary to manage police and security officers as supervisors and directors. Majoring in law enforcement administration will require a bachelor’s degree or prior experience or certification in law enforcement.

Degree level: Bachelor’s degree

10. Rehabilitation services major

A rehabilitation major includes studying aspects of sociology and offers career opportunities in substance abuse programs, therapy and counseling services in corrections facilities. Consider studying psychology and sociology along with your rehabilitation major to ensure you learn the required skills for working in this field.

Degree level: Associate degree, bachelor’s degree

Online Criminal Justice Degrees 2021 | Affordable Colleges Online

criminal justice jobs

Since criminal justice includes many types of majors and degrees, the jobs available to graduates and those certified in criminal justice are many. The following list includes the different jobs available within the field of criminal justice.

  1. Behavioral specialist
  2. Corrections officer
  3. Law enforcement officer
  4. Paralegal
  5. Social worker
  6. Intelligence analyst
  7. Forensic scientist
  8. Criminal defense attorney
  9. Criminal psychologist
  10. Judge

1. Behavioral specialist

National average salary: $17.07 per hour

Primary duties: A behavioral specialist within criminal justice may work with youth at risk of criminal activity or other negative behavior. The specialist works with schools, community leaders, families and social workers to monitor and implement behavior strategies to help at-risk youth.

2. Corrections officer

National average salary: $33,415 per year

Primary duties: Correctional officers primarily serve in prison security roles. Duties within these roles include oversight of inmate activities and privileges, maintaining order and enforcing rules within jails and prisons and reporting on inmate conduct.

3. Law enforcement officer

National average salary: $48,008 per year

Primary duties: The primary duty of a law enforcement officer is to protect communities and property. Other duties required of law enforcement officers include patrolling neighborhoods, controlling traffic, responding to emergency calls, writing citations, arresting offenders and submitting incident reports.

4. Paralegal

National average salary: $50,179 per year

Primary duties: A paralegal’s duties typically encompass drafting and filing paperwork, researching caseloads, interviewing witnesses and defendants and building cases for defendants or against other individuals or groups.

5. Social worker

National average salary: $57,469 per year

Primary duties: A social worker might work together with local law enforcement agencies, behavior specialists and rehabilitation specialists to prevent criminal activity. However, not all social workers work in criminal justice, but those who do will frequently be required to perform these duties as well as others such as assisting families and victims of abuse, diagnosing behavioral and mental disorders and offer counseling for substance abuse.

6. Intelligence analyst

National average salary: $58,087 per year

Primary duties: An intelligence analyst duties include the collection and analysis of data to evaluate and identify patterns in criminal activity to aid law enforcement agencies in the prevention and reduction of crime

7. Forensic scientist

National average salary: $65,619 per year

Primary duties: Forensic scientists are responsible for collecting and analyzing the physical evidence of committed crimes. Oftentimes, forensic scientists operate with mobile tools and equipment and work with law enforcement agencies in solving crimes.

8. Criminal defense attorney

National average salary: $72,439 – $89,022 per year

Primary duties: Defense attorney responsibilities typically include defendant case management, arraignment, pretrial hearings and settlement conferences and attending court trials and hearings. Defense attorneys can work for a variety of organizations at the local, state or federal level.

9. Judge

National average salary: $87,849 per year

Primary duties: The primary function of a judge is to ensure the law is abided and carried out within the courtroom, as well as presiding over court cases. Judges are also responsible for making motion decisions, making rulings and instructing juries.

10. Criminal psychologist

National average salary: $85,383 – $96,529 per year

Primary duties: One of the most prominent responsibilities of criminal psychologists is criminal profiling. Other duties include aiding law enforcement in analyzing solving crimes, analyzing criminal behavior and oftentimes providing expert testimony in court cases.

Criminal Justice Careers | BestColleges

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