Salary and Career Info for a Bachelors in Criminal Justice Degree

Degrees in criminal justice can lead to a variety of job occupations. Continue reading for an overview of some of these occupations and their requirements, salary and employment outlook.

A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can prepare individuals to pursue a career as a correctional officer, probation officer and correctional treatment specialist, detective, or a fish and game warden. These careers involve enforcing laws, investigating violations of the law, or working with those who have been convicted of breaking the law.

Essential Information

Students pursuing bachelor's degrees in criminal justice can choose to apply their training and education to a range of job types. Potential job titles include correctional officer, probation officer and police officer or detective.

Career Correctional Officer Probation Officer & Correctional Treatment Specialist Detective Fish & Game Warden
Required Education High School Diploma Bachelor's degree, usually related to criminal justice High School Diploma or Bachelor's Degree 2 years of college coursework & training
Annual Mean Salary (2015)* $45,320 (for correctional officers and jailers) $54,080 $79,620 (for detectives and criminal investigators) $54,970

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Possibilities

A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can give graduates access to a range of jobs, so it is to a student's advantage to choose a specific area and focus coursework accordingly. Law enforcement possibilities include police officer, security, loss prevention expert and investigator. Graduates of a criminal justice bachelor's degree program who wish to focus on the social services side of this field could become probation or parole officers or work in a correctional facility.

Social Service Careers for Criminal Justices Graduates

Correctional officers, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists all fall under the area of social services which relate to criminal justice. Probation officers supervise individuals who have been placed on probation by interacting with their families and friends. Correctional treatment specialists, also called counselors, meet with offenders and work with them to create rehabilitation plans for the time when they will be on parole. Correctional officers themselves watch over those who have been arrested and are in jail. The work of these three groups often overlaps.

Salary & Requirements

Correctional officers are required to have a bachelor's degree or equivalent experience to work at the federal level. At other levels they may be hired with high school diplomas. The BLS reported annual mean wages of $45,320 for these professionals in May 2015.

Employers of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists generally require a bachelor's degree in a relevant area such as criminal justice. As of May 2015, the BLS reported an average annual salary for these employees of $54,080.

Law Enforcement Careers for Criminal Justice Graduates

A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can be used in addition to specific training to obtain a job as a police officer or police detective. Police work can be quite diverse. Some officers work in specialized units such as motorcycle or harbor police. Others specialize in fields such as chemical analysis or handwriting identification. Detectives take the plain-clothes route and find evidence for criminal cases. Fish and game wardens police areas where fishing, hunting and boating occurs and ensure public safety. This can take the form of checking licenses or performing search and rescue activities.

Salary & Requirements

As of May 2015, detectives and criminal investigators earned average annual salaries of $79,620, with fish and game wardens earning $54,970 at that time, according to the BLS. Fish and game wardens typically need a minimum of two years of college coursework in addition to training. The requirements for police detectives and criminal investigators ranged from a high school diploma to a full 4-year degree. The BLS predicts a 4% employment increase for police and detectives from 2014 to 2024, which is slower than the average growth rate for all U.S. jobs.

There are many career options for individuals with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Those with a degree in this field may work to apprehend or rehabilitate criminals by seeking employment as a detective, probation officer or parole officer. Fish and game wardens enforce regulations regarding hunting, fishing and boating to ensure public safety.

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