Criminal Justice Technology Jobs: Career Options and Requirements

Programs in criminal justice technology typically cover law enforcement, crime scene investigation and varying levels of security. Find out about the requirements of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for criminal justice technology graduates.

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The criminal justice system requires a number of trained professionals. This article takes a closer look at three professions: crime scene investigators, private security officers, and correctional or court officers. While not all criminal justice professions require postsecondary education, earning a bachelor's degree may attract employers or qualify a candidate for promotion.

Essential Information

Police, court and corrections officers, as well as private industry investigators utilize complex methods to detect, analyze and prevent illegal violations and criminal behavior. Educational requirements vary, but several college degree programs are available for those interested in a profession in criminal justice technology. Some jobs may require only a high school diploma and specialized training.

Career Crime Scene Investigator Private Security Officer Correctional or Court Officer
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree High school diploma or GED; post-secondary training often preferred High school diploma or GED; bachelor's degree required for federal positions
Other Requirements On-the-job training On-the-job training and state registration Training academy and on-the-job training
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 27% for forensic science technicians 5% 4%
Median Salary (2015)* $56,320 annually for forensic science technicians $24,630 annually $40,530 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Corrections Admin
  • Corrections, Probation, and Parole
  • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
  • Criminal Science
  • Forensic Science
  • Juvenile Corrections
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Police Science and Law Enforcement
  • Securities Services Mgmt
  • Security and Theft Prevention Services

Career Options

The advances in technology used by criminal justice professionals have enhanced the investigative and prevention techniques used in several areas of law enforcement and security industries. Those interested in the field of criminal justice may choose among a variety of career options in public offices, private companies and government agencies.

Crime Scene Investigator

Crime scene investigators thoroughly search and gather information from a crime scene in order to reconstruct an event. Trained to look for minute traces evidence, including tissue samples, hazardous materials, fingerprints, clothing fibers, and air particles. Correct handling and storage of evidence is extremely important, as contamination may render it inadmissible in a court of law. Some specific areas of specialization for a crime scene investigator include:

  • Serology and DNA Typing
  • Physical Trace Evidence
  • Weapons Analysis
  • Illegal Substance Identification

Crime scene investigators can be criminal investigators, who collect the evidence, or specialized forensic technicians, who analyze the evidence. Employment of detectives and criminal investigators is projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to decrease by 1% from 2014 to 2024, while employment for forensic science technicians is expected to increase by 27% during the same period. According to BLS data, detectives and criminal investigators earned a median annual salary of $77,210, and forensic science technicians made a median of $56,320 as of May 2015.

Private Security Officer

Those employed with a private security firm may be responsible for protecting people, information or property. Depending on the organization, security officers may require specialized knowledge and skills, such as weapons-handling, information technology or legal procedures for crime scene investigation. Security officers may enter the field as experts in a particular profession, including law enforcement or computer networking. The BLS anticipates a 5% employment growth for security guards over the 2014-2024 decade. These workers earned a median annual salary of $24,630 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.

Correctional or Court Officer

Local, state and federal judicial systems require officers to control and oversee accused or convicted criminals in corrections facilities and in a public court of law. Officers must be constantly alert, assessing the behavior of charges under their protection. Those working in jails may require investigative skills during cell or prisoner searches and often use technology for monitoring and tracking prisoners. Courtroom officers also share in maintaining order, though technical tools used may apply more often to administrative duties. The BLS projected that the field of correctional officers would grow by 4% from 2014 to 2024. The median annual salary for correctional officers and jailers was $40,530 as of May 2015.

Among these criminal justice careers, the BLS predicts forensic science technician jobs to grow at the fastest rate - by 27% this decade. By contrast, detectives and criminal investigators will see the number of jobs decrease through 2024. Jobs in all of these careers require at least a high school diploma and crime scene investigators typically must hold a bachelor's degree.

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