Earning a degree in criminal justice opens up a gateway of opportunities in a crime-related field, such as police and detective work. A criminal justice degree allows a person to work in the field or behind the scenes. Most careers that require a criminal justice degree offer pay that allows professionals to live comfortably.
Police and Detectives
Not all police and detective positions require a criminal justice degree, but many do. State police careers almost always require a degree, even if someone has experience in the local police force. Criminal justice degrees are preferred. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, police officers earned a median of $51,410 in 2008, while the median wage for detectives and criminal investigators was $60,910 in 2008. Most detectives start out on the police squad. Police and detectives often earn overtime pay.
Forensic Science Technician
A forensic science technician is part investigator, part scientist. The main duties of a forensic science technician include visiting crime scenes, collecting evidence and then analyzing that evidence. The tools a forensic science technician uses constantly change as technology and DNA-analyzing techniques become more advanced. A career in forensic science requires a degree that preferably combines science and criminology. A criminal justice degree with emphasis on science fulfills both of those requirements. According to the BLS, the median wage for a forensic science technician was $23.97 per hour or $46,022 per year in 2008.
Correction Specialists, Probation Officers and Parole Officers
Correction specialists work mainly in jails and prisons. A correction specialist's main duty involves looking after inmates and creating a plan to rehabilitate them. A probation officer acts as a supervisor and watches over offenders sentenced to probation. A probation officer's main job is to ensure the offender does not violate the terms of his probation. If the offender does violate his probation, the probation officer often suggests a sentence for the offender. Parole officers have similar job duties as probation officers, except they deal with offenders who are on parole. Each job requires a degree, such as a degree in criminal justice. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for correctional specialists, probation officers and parole officers was $45,910 in 2008.
Paralegals act as assistants to lawyers. A paralegal is responsible for assisting a lawyer by investigating the case and creating reports about the case. Paralegals with degrees in criminal justice are often in demand for open positions. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a paralegal was $46,120 in 2008.