Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

What to Expect from Criminal Justice Careers and Salaries

Criminal justice careers are fast becoming a go-to future choice for many students around the nation, as more and more opportunities open up in the industry.  Law enforcement used to be one of the only choices in the criminal justice world, as police officers and detectives helped bring criminals to justice every day, but the criminal justice system now encompasses a vast array of prosecutors, criminal defense lawyers, judges, and specialists within police departments.  With increased technological advances, the positions within law enforcement offices seem to double every year as there is a constant need for renovation within the ranks.

Criminal justice used to simply entail a police officer, a lawyer, and a judge only a few decades ago.  However, as crime has become more sophisticated, law enforcement officers have had to expand and hone in on different criminal areas in order to keep up with the abundance of criminals.  As a result, students of criminal justice can now expect to have a large spectrum of options available for them to choose from upon graduation.  The many different specialties include work in forensics, homicide, law, and many other intricacies of criminal justice.  Students additionally now have the option of going on to gain higher education within criminal justice or accepting a job directly out of college.  As with most industries, higher salaries will be given along with higher degrees, but most criminal justice careers start between $50,000 to $60,000 with only a bachelor’s degree.

Law is also an important part of the criminal justice system, and with lawyers sprouting by the hundreds around the country, both criminal defense and prosecution have taken on a new face.  The criminal laws are different in every state, and it is the job of the lawyer and everyone who works for them (legal secretaries, paralegals, and clerks) to know these laws, now the case background, and any precedent relating to the case.  Because most criminals have to attend hearings and trials, lawyers and judges have become an integral part of the criminal justice system and work to free the innocent and imprison the guilty.  While many law students who start out in the public defender’s office do not get paid nearly what they should get paid, for many it is rewarding work as they help to rehabilitate and revitalize much of the criminal population. 

There are many different routes to take with criminal justice, and some may not even lead to the “nitty gritty” parts of the system, but simply to the legislative world that works to make changes within the system.  No matter what area of criminal justice you choose to pursue, it is a welcome fact that any job you take will have a direct impact on justice and preventing dangerous crimes. 

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