With a master's degree in criminal justice it is possible to begin a career as a postsecondary teacher, probation officer, or correctional counselor.
Master's degree programs in criminal justice provide a grounding in criminology, the legal system, law enforcement and juvenile justice. Graduates obtain the skills needed to conduct research in criminal justice, teach in junior colleges or work as leaders within the criminal justice system.
|Career||Postsecondary Teachers||Probation and Parole Officers||Correctional Counselors|
|Education Requirements||Master's degree||Master's degree||Master's degree|
|Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*||13%||4% for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists||4% for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists|
|Median Salary||$72,470 (2015)*||$49,360 (2015)for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists*||$41,925**|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
Career Overview: Postsecondary Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers
People with master's degrees in criminal justice are prepared to teach courses in corrections, law enforcement administration and criminal justice. They usually work in public community colleges, since university positions are typically held by those with Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees.
Job duties for postsecondary teachers vary. In general, they must be good communicators and be able to moderate class discussions. Instructors in criminal justice and law enforcement must understand the theoretical and conceptual frameworks behind the study of crime and criminal justice and be familiar with current trends in criminal justice, policing and criminology.
The median annual wage for postsecondary teachers was $72,470 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The job outlook for all postsecondary teachers is expected to increase by 13% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS.
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Career Overview: Probation Officers and Parole Officers
Probation officers work with criminal offenders who were eligible to avoid prison. By contrast, and having similar duties, parole officers work with individuals who've completed their prison sentences. People in these jobs work within and outside of the court system to monitor and help clients.
In many cases, parole and probation officers meet with offenders in their homes or places of employment. They may help them find jobs or monitor their attendance in substance abuse treatment programs. In some states, the roles of probation and parole officer are combined into one job title. Parole and probation officers also work with community organizations and local residences to monitor the activities of their clients.
In 2015 annual salaries for the median annual salary of probation officers was reported to be $49,360, according to the BLS.
Career Overview: Correctional Counselors
Correctional counselors, also called correctional treatment specialists, counsel people to help them make the transition from prison or parole back into society. They often work in conjunction with parole and probation officers to help develop release and rehabilitation plans for offenders.
Correctional counselors work in prisons and jails, or they may work for probation or parole agencies. They may conduct psychological testing to evaluate their clients. They write treatment plans and case reports discussing each offender's history and conduct in prison, which are used for parole boards in determining eligibility for release. They also set up education and training programs in order to provide them with job, life, anger management and substance abuse help.
PayScale.com reports that the median annual salary for correctional counselors was $41,925 in January 2016.
Although probation officers and correctional counselors will experience slower than average job growth from 2014-2024 per the BLS, postsecondary teachers will experience job growth of 13%, which is faster than average when compared to all occupations. Individuals with a master's degree in criminal justice will be qualified to compete for jobs in all of these fields.