What Can You Do With a Master's in Criminal Justice?

May 31, 2020

On the way to earning a master's in criminal justice, students will take classes on criminological theory, ethics and criminal justice, law enforcement, and research methods and analysis. Upon graduation, they will have a deeper understanding of the legal system and have gotten enough hands-on experience within the laboratory to secure jobs like those listed in the table below.

Master's Degree in Criminal Justice: Jobs and Salary

While a student's degree concentration may differ, they will come away from their given master's program with the experience and the skills necessary to gain access to a variety of jobs within their field of study. They will have a good understanding of why individuals break certain laws and learn about how laws can be created, along with the ways in which they can be enforced. While an individual may not necessarily need a master's degree to secure a certain job within their field, the extra training and education will help them to remain competitive and will also aid in advancement and pay raises. We'll take a look at a few of the jobs available to recent graduates, along with their respective median salary and job growth information.

Job Title Median Salary Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Private Detective or Investigator $50,510* (2019) 8%
Probation Officer or Correctional Treatment Specialist $54,290* (2019) 3%
FBI Agent $65,574** (2020) 3% (detectives and criminal investigators)
Intelligence Analyst $69,806** (2020) NA
Postsecondary Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teacher $62,860* (2019) 8%

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Master's Degree in Criminal Justice Careers

Private Detectives and Investigators

Private investigators gather information about their cases, often using a computer to look up financial, legal and other records, but also performing in-the-field work, such as surveillance and interviews. They might work for a business, such as to investigate theft or insurance fraud, or a private citizen. Nearly a third of private detectives are self-employed, so basic business skills like invoicing can come in handy for those interested in this field. Communication skills are essential for both interviews and discussing cases with clients and analytical thinkers have an advantage in the profession. Those with a master's can excel at this position due to their deep understanding of human behavior and of the law.

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists collect information related to an offender's background and present this information in court when called to do so. They analyze all data to determine which type of rehabilitation programs they should use for each offender and direct them to locations where they can get job training or support. Furthermore, they keep tabs on offenders by giving them regular drug test and interviewing them, along with their relatives and friends.

FBI Agents

FBI agents help to solve federal crimes by interviewing persons of interest and collecting evidence from the scene of the crime. Those with a master's in criminal justice will use their understanding of human behavior to provide expert analysis of individuals based upon their body language and actions during such interviews. Furthermore, they may be tasked with apprehending suspects in a particular case. Once they have completed their investigation or closed their case, they will provide a detailed report to their superiors.

Intelligence Analysts

Intelligence analysts collect and analyze raw data, and then perform statistical tests to help them make hypotheses about said data. Individuals in this particular job tend to work for companies associated with the government, or the government itself, and provide information related to security threats to their superiors. Additionally, they will be tasked with performing on-site investigations, something that those with a master's degree will be well versed in.

Postsecondary Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers

Criminal justice professors teach college students and continue to research in their field of study; whether they spend more time teaching or more time on research depends on their particular job. Research-focused professors publish their findings in university journals or other forms of media. In general, postsecondary instructors work with students, meet with other faculty and make certain that current coursework meets state and federal requirements. They may also serve as heads of their respective departments.

Gaining a master's in criminal justice gives graduates the tools, skills, and education necessary to broaden their career outlook. They acquire a greater understanding of the human psyche and human criminal behaviors, along with the ability to collect and analyze data.

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