If you have a desire to investigate crimes and protect your community or enforce laws, criminal justice would be a good major for you.
Many people think that a criminal justice degree often leads to becoming a police officer. While that career is common, a criminal justice, this degree can lead to a variety of other careers at the local, state, and federal levels. Plus, there is high demand to fill protective services positions, which means you’ll likely find a position once you graduate.
Degrees and Majors in Criminal Justice
Criminal justice majors are available at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degree levels. Curriculums are designed to help participants understand the legal system and prepare them to become critical thinkers and problem solvers, even when operating in high-pressure environments. Specific coursework will feature a unique blend of psychology, criminology, and statistics.
Common bachelor’s degree core courses include:
- Corrections in America
- Courts and Corrections
- Ethics in Criminal Justice
- Introduction to Criminal Justice
- Research Methods in America
A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice typically takes four years to complete and is offered both on-campus and online. After completing your core criminal justice classes, you’ll be able to select a number of electives, which may vary by school. Some colleges offer specializations in specific areas, such as Forensic Science, Crisis Management, Law Enforcement, or Homeland Security.
In addition, you may also need to complete internships, where you’ll gain real-world experience and be able to network for a future job opportunity. Some agencies that offer internships include police departments, correctional facilities, and Departments of Public Safety.
Careers Available in Criminal Justice
A criminal justice degree can lead to a wide plethora of careers in court and law enforcement. Below are some of the most common careers in the criminal justice field along with each of their projected salaries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Crime scene investigator – $83,320
- Correctional officers and bailiffs – $43,510
- Court reporters – $55,120
- Forensic science technicians – $57,850
- Judges and hearing officers – $115,520
- Lawyers: $119,250
- Private detectives – $50,700
- Police officers – $62,960
- DEA agent – $92,592
- Security guards and gaming surveillance officers – $26,960
In terms of outlook, employment in these protective service occupations is projected to grow 5% from 2016 to 2026, resulting in more than 158,000 new jobs.
Is Criminal Justice the Right Major For You?
The knowledge and skills you’ll learn while studying criminal justice will provide you with a solid foundation to enable you to make a difference in your community and help reduce crimes. Since many of these careers often involve being in dangerous situations, you’ll receive plenty of educational and on-the-job training to help you think on your feet and react appropriately.
Majoring in criminal justice can open up many opportunities. If you are interested in advancing education to pursue careers, such as a criminal justice professor, judge, or lawyer you can also go on to pursue a master’s degree or doctorate degree.
To learn more about the types of criminal justice as well as the career outlook for all professions in this field, see our Criminal Justice Careers page.