As you consider different programs of study, you might wonder what you can do with a degree in criminal justice. There are many types of occupations open to graduates of criminal justice degree programs.
Careers in Law Enforcement
One of the most direct career pathways from a criminal justice program is a job in law enforcement. After all, it’s the duty of those who uphold the law to identify the perpetrators of crimes and bring them to justice. By studying criminal justice, you can prepare yourself for careers with law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels. You can even find employment with the Department of Homeland Security or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), according to U.S. News & World Report.
Careers in Corrections
Once offenders have been arrested and officially convicted of a crime, they enter the corrections system. Working in corrections is one of the jobs you can do with a degree in criminal justice. Correctional officers are the criminal justice professionals who oversee inmates who are serving sentences in jails or prisons. There are also other roles in the correctional system, such as correctional treatment specialists who develop plans to help rehabilitate offenders who complete their sentences or are released on parole.
Careers Solving Crimes
Long before they are serving prison sentences, suspects must be linked to the crime they have committed – and that requires evidence. Many criminal justice roles, like police detective and private investigator, revolve around solving crimes and compiling a compelling body of proof that links the offender to the crime. Professionals that work in forensics, the gathering and scientific analyzing of evidence, also play an important role in solving crimes and closing cases. Forensic positions include crime scene investigator and forensic scientist.
Careers in the Legal Industry
What else can you do with a degree in criminal justice? If you’re interested in the law, you could use your criminal justice knowledge to move into a role as a paralegal or legal assistant. These legal professionals work with attorneys, assisting them with tasks such as investigating facts, conducting legal research and drafting legal documents, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Paralegals and legal assistants work in all disciplines of law, not only criminal law, but it’s not unusual for a paralegal to have a criminal justice background along with a paralegal certification.
Concentrations and Specializations Within Criminal Justice Programs
What you can do with a degree in criminal justice depends in part on which degree you earned. A master’s degree in homeland security will prepare you for a role with a government law enforcement organization like the FBI, while a master’s degree in criminology will equip you with somewhat different skills, like criminal profiling. Schools that offer graduate degrees in criminal justice often offer multiple degree paths and specializations for students to choose from.
Whether you want to get to the bottom of crimes, uphold the law or work in support of the correctional system, there are plenty of jobs you can do with a degree in criminal justice.