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Beyond the Police Force: Three Exciting Criminal Justice Jobs


The comprehensive knowledge of criminology and law enforcement imparted by a bachelor’s in criminal justice can prepare students to be effective in the police force. But the depth of study involved in earning this degree can also provide skills for an additional number of exciting and potentially lucrative careers.

Many jobs outside of traditional police work include straightforward applications of criminal justice acumen, but some options may not be so obvious. Thus, a job hunt focusing on these unexpected and fascinating career paths may prove a successful venture. Read on for three exciting examples of alternative jobs for criminal justice majors.

Emergency Response Coordinator

A bachelor’s in criminal justice provides graduates with many different avenues for career exploration.

A career in emergency response can be interesting and intrinsically rewarding. That’s because emergency response coordinators may work in the public or private sector in partnership with agencies like fire departments or police departments. They help provide organized assistance and relief to people, communities and organizations in the aftermath of natural disasters or traumatic events.

A bachelor’s degree is often a minimum requirement for working as an emergency response coordinator. According to PayScale (April 2020), the average annual salary of emergency response coordinators is $55K, with top earners making more than $88K.

Private Investigator

From mystery novels to noir detective movies, the private investigator is an iconic character in American stories. A police detective may logically decide to retire early or leave the force in order to work for themselves as a P.I. Because the job offers the flexibility and autonomy that comes with contract-based work, it’s an attractive option for anyone who’s independent and self-driven.

Private investigators are hired by individuals and companies to research and report on most any matter of import, from missing children to questionable financial transactions. The job requires the same skill set in criminology, research and field experience as a public law enforcement role. Pay rates are comparable too, and PayScale (April 2020) reports that the average annual income for private investigators is $54K. Yet, private detectives are free agents, and their income varies greatly. Some pull in more than $90K a year.

Bounty Hunter

Bounty hunting, or fugitive recovery, is another romanticized private or freelance application of the law enforcement professional’s skill set. When an arrested individual cannot afford to pay bail, they may contract with a bond agency to post bail for them. If that individual fails to appear on their court date, the bond agency forfeits the bail money. To avoid this, bail agencies hire bounty hunters to track down individuals who “skip bail.”

As another self-directed career, annual income for bounty hunters varies depending on the work they put in, the number of bounties they successfully track down, and the fees they command based on reputation and track record. PayScale (April 2020) reports the average income of bounty hunters as $51K.

Countless Career Opportunities

From working in disaster relief and emergency response to tracking down fugitives of the law, alternative career applications of criminal justice knowledge and skills can be rewarding and engaging.

Pursuing work in federal investigative or intelligence-based law enforcement agencies such as the FBI or the CIA would be an obvious career for criminal justice graduates. A student of criminal justice may follow their interests in crime scene investigations to pursue further education and careers in forensic science. Those with advanced technology and computer skills may delve into the ever-growing, lucrative field of information security. Graduates may also build on their understanding of the criminal justice system by going on to earn a law degree, which is a great path for future lawyers, policymakers or even legislators. Truly, the applications of a quality education in criminal justice may be as broad as your imagination allows.

Learn more about Lamar University’s online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program.


PayScale: Average Emergency Response Coordinator Salary

PayScale: Average Private Detective or Investigator Salary

PayScale: Average Bounty Hunter Salary


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