Administration of Justice Career Options and Requirements

Sep 21, 2019

Administration of justice career options range from courtroom positions to investigations. Specialized training is almost always required, and a bachelor's degree is a good choice for those starting down this career path. The three choices outlined below are only a few of many options available for those interested in working in the justice system.

Essential Information

Administration of justice careers encompass a wide variety of jobs as part of the criminal legal system. Those interested in this field can pursue careers in law enforcement, the courts, or corrections, among others. Education and experience requirements vary widely depending on the type of career path chosen.

Career FBI Agent Court Bailiff Probation Officer
Required Education Bachelor's At least high school diploma At least Bachelor's
Other Requirements 3 years experience Police officer training (many states) Training & certification may be required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 3% (for detectives & criminal investigators) 1% decline 3% (for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists)
Median Salary $64,477 (2019)** $45,760 (2018)* $53,020 (2018)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **

Career Options

FBI agents can be involved in investigating and solving a wide variety of criminal cases and also require significant education and experience. If an individual is more interested in working in the court system, a career as a court bailiff can be chosen. Probation officers monitor criminals who are on probation rather than being sentenced to prison time.

FBI Special Agent

The FBI is a national security organization employing administration of justice professionals in diverse roles, such as police officers, linguists, hostage negotiators and special agents, to investigate and enforce federal laws. Special agents may be involved in cases dealing with terrorism, kidnapping, bank robbery and organized crime. They may be required to move frequently or spend time away from family during covert operations. New employees are assigned to one of five different career paths depending on education, skills, training and preference. Following completion of training, special agents are assigned to a field office where they spend their first two years under the supervision of an experienced agent.

Special Agent Requirements

Administration of justice professionals who work as special agents must satisfy the most demanding of all FBI employment requirements. As of December 2010, applicants must be between 23-37 years old, hold U.S. citizenship, possess a valid driver's license, have a 4-year degree from an accredited university, have three years work experience and must agree to relocate to any FBI jurisdiction. Furthermore, applicants must qualify for one of the five entry programs:

  • Accounting
  • Computer science
  • Language
  • Law
  • Diversified

Candidates who qualify are ranked according to critical skills needed at the time of recruitment. Those with priority then have to pass the rigorous physical tests and background checks prior to being accepted for the 21 weeks of FBI Academy training.

FBI Agent Salary reported in September 2019 that most FBI agents made somewhere in the range of approximately $39,000 to $119,000 per year, with the median annual salary for the job falling at $64,477.

Court Bailiff

Bailiffs are court officers who protect and maintain order in courtrooms. They typically direct the jury, support and protect the judge, monitor court visitors and transport court documents.

Bailiff Requirements

In many states, bailiffs have police officer training and may be sheriffs or deputies. In some states, the role is an administrative position, and the bailiff may have no law enforcement training. Educational requirements vary by location, but minimally include a high school diploma.

Bailiff Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) listed a median annual salary for bailiffs of $45,760 in 2018. At that time, the states offering bailiffs the highest salaries included New York, California, Colorado, and Illinois, all of which paid these workers more than $57,000 a year on average.

Probation Officer

Probation officers are administration of justice professionals who monitor criminals who receive probation instead of sentencing. Although in some jurisdictions probation officers also serve as parole officers, supervising parolees recently released from prison. Depending on the terms of probation imposed by the court, probation officers might provide assistance with job placement or monitor participation in treatment programs. They also spend time attending hearings and providing assessments for the court's use in sentencing. Probation officers typically specialize in either adult or juvenile cases.

Probation Officer Requirements

Probation officers require a minimum of a bachelor's degree, preferably in social work, criminal justice, psychology or sociology. Some employers prefer a master's degree in addition to experience. New probation officers might be required to attend training courses and may be required to obtain state certification. A valid driver's license and passing a background check are also typical conditions of employment.

Probation Officer Salary

In 2018, probation officers in the United States earned a median yearly wage of $53,020, according to the BLS. Local and state government agencies were the highest-paying employers for probation officers at that time.

Forensic Scientist

Administration of justice professionals who analyze physical evidence at crime scenes and provide expert testimony in the judicial system are known as forensic scientists. They may be generalists with broad expertise, or they may specialize in an area such as blood spatter, ballistics, fingerprinting or DNA. Some specialists work exclusively in a laboratory setting while other forensic scientists work in an office environment and visit crime scenes to collect evidence.

Forensic Scientist Requirements

Forensic scientists need a bachelor's degree in forensic science or a related discipline. Courses in biology, chemistry, math and statistics are required. Some schools offer courses in forensic science. For example, the National Science Teachers Association offers free forensic science curricula to middle and high school teachers. Forensic scientists must perform careful lab work, maintain accurate records and be skilled as expert witnesses to ensure they and their reports pass court scrutiny. Forensic scientists who gather evidence must also be able to withstand the stress from exposure to crime scenes.

Forensic Scientist Salary

The BLS indicated in 2018 that most forensic science technicians were earning an annual income of $34,600 to $97,200 per year. During that year, local and state governments employed the highest numbers of forensic science techs, though the executive branch of the federal government and scientific research and development services offered the profession's highest salaries.

FBI agents and forensic scientists are two examples of investigative careers in the field of justice administration. Court bailiffs and probation officers work directly with individuals being processed through the justice system. Each career has different experience and education requirements for their positions.

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