As you pursue an undergraduate criminal justice degree such as Lamar University’s online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, you may be evaluating the kind of job that is best for you. Criminal justice majors have a variety of job options, from Secret Service agent to loss prevention manager. Here are seven criminal justice careers to consider upon graduation:
1. U.S. Marshal
For roles like that of a deputy U.S. Marshal, the U.S. Marshals Service generally hires graduates with a bachelor’s degree and at least three years of qualifying work experience. Candidates may also apply if they meet more intensive work experience and education requirements. As a law enforcement officer with the U.S. Marshals, your duties may include capturing and transporting federal fugitives, protecting federal judges, operating the Witness Security Program and seizing illegally acquired property.
As federal employees, U.S. Marshals get paid under federal pay scales. The General Schedule is the most common, wherein workers progress through 15 pay grades with 10 pay steps to each grade. However, a law enforcement officer (LEO) is paid under a special LEO pay scale from pay grades GL-3 to GL-10, accounting for risk associated with the job. Law enforcement officers that move beyond the GL-10 pay grade generally progress according to the general schedule pay grade (GS-11). These professionals may also qualify for additional locality pay, premium pay and availability pay.
According to ZipRecruiter, Federal Marshals make an average salary of $75,129 as of May 2023.
2. Forensic Specialist
Thanks to various TV shows, forensics careers have soared. Some employers require crime scene investigators — also called forensic specialists or forensic science technicians — to have backgrounds in criminal justice as well as science. Forensic specialists collect, identify and analyze evidence at crime scenes and take detailed notes describing the evidence. They work with police to capture suspects in a crime, and also may be asked to testify in court cases.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that forensic science technicians made a median annual salary of $61,930 in 2021.
3. Probation/Parole Officer
Your criminal justice degree could be useful in a career as either a probation officer or parole officer. Probation officers work with offenders who receive probation rather than jail time, who are still in prison or who have been released from prison. As a probation officer, you’ll monitor offenders to prevent them from committing new crimes.
Parole officers work with people who have been released from jail and are serving parole, to help them re-enter society. Parole officers also monitor offenders and help in their rehabilitation by setting up counseling or job training. A parole officer’s primary goal is to help keep parolees from becoming repeat offenders and returning to prison.
According to BLS, probation officers and parole officers (categorized along with correctional treatment specialists) made a median salary of $60,250 per year in 2021.
4. Secret Service Agent
The U.S. Secret Service, another federal law enforcement agency, may give preference to applicants with a criminal justice degree. A bachelor’s degree is one of the requirement options to qualify for the GL-07 LEO pay grade level for special agent positions.
Secret Service agents do more than just protect the president, the president’s family and cabinet members; they also investigate financial crimes such as counterfeiting, identity theft, credit and debit card fraud, computer fraud, forgery or theft of government currency, telecommunications and information technology fraud, and other commercial crimes.
Secret Service agents are paid under the same salary schedules as other federal law enforcement agents. As of May 2023, workers in the secret service make an average salary of $85,714, according to ZipRecruiter data.
5. Loss Prevention Manager
Loss prevention managers are an essential part of the retail industry, and many have backgrounds in criminal justice or law enforcement. They help prevent theft of merchandise from shoplifters and dishonest employees, and they train other employees on loss prevention. They typically oversee security and work as a liaison between stores and the local criminal justice community. Many loss prevention managers work undetected in stores and may be asked to testify in court if a case goes to trial.
ZipRecruiter reports that loss prevention managers make an average annual salary of $53,647 as of May 2023.
6. Prison Warden
Wardens are responsible for programs and activities of the entire correctional facility, including treatment programs, school- and job-training, leisure events, religious services and case management for detainees. They must know state laws and procedures governing the operation of prisons, as well as supervisory techniques, personnel policies and procedures. Wardens also control the inside movement and assignment of prisoners, and they address various problems involving detainees.
BLS has no specific category for prison wardens, but the bureau reports that first line supervisors of correctional officers made a median annual salary of $63,310 in May 2022.
7. Paralegal/Legal Assistant
Paralegals help lawyers prepare for hearings, trials and meetings, and they also investigate the facts of a case. They may draft legal documents and file exhibits, briefs and appeals with the court or opposing counsel. Your online criminal justice degree could come in handy, especially if the firm or agency you work with specializes in criminal law.
BLS reports that the median pay for paralegals and legal assistants in 2021 was $56,230.
Pursuing a criminal justice degree online offers plenty of flexibility, whether you’re fresh out of high school or a working adult looking for a career change. Find a degree program that works for you.
Learn more about Lamar University’s online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice.