What is Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice consists of a network of government (local, state, and federal) agencies who are responsible for upholding the law and maintaining social order. Professionals, such as police officers, attorneys, and judges all work together to protect the innocent and prosecute those guilty of a crime.

A career in criminal justice provides you with the opportunity to give back to your community in a positive way. This includes anything from helping recent convicts with rehabilitation, working to keep your community safe, or making a positive impact on society. You’ll be able to rely on a variety of different disciplines, ranging from sociology and psychology to law and public policy, to better understand the causes and prevention of criminal behavior.

How the Criminal Justice System Works

The criminal justice system has three main individual components that work together: law enforcement, courts, and corrections.

  • Law enforcement includes police officers, detectives, and other professions, and is often considered to be at the forefront of the justice system. Law enforcement personnel are responsible for enforcing the law and apprehending those who break the law.
  • The Courts are responsible for determining whether an individual is guilty or innocent, and if guilty, assigning the appropriate punishment. The court process begins when sufficient evidence is collected by law enforcement. After it is assessed, formal charges are then filed. Both sides are able to present their case to the court.
  • Corrections is responsible for enforcing the punishments handed down by the court to ensure each individual satisfies the requirements of their sentence. Corrections includes incarceration, rehabilitation, or probation.

Why Study Criminal Justice?

There are many reasons why you may want to study criminal justice. If you are someone who likes to give back to the community, help keep your city safe, and bring people to justice, then you will likely enjoy a criminal justice degree. You can find criminal justice programs at most colleges in the United States.

A degree in a criminal justice-related field enables you to work in a wide range of local, state and federal settings. For those who want to become a police officer, they can enroll in a police academy training program at a local community college. Many choose to go on to law school or graduate school, especially for lawyer and administrative criminal justice roles.

Careers In Criminal Justice

Careers in criminal justice continue to be in demand. The following are some of the most sought-after criminal justice jobs as well as their growth and data statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Police and Detectives

A popular career choice within law enforcement is that of a police officer or detective. Those who are working towards a career in law enforcement can expect to make an average income of $62,960 a year. Between 2016 and 2026, the number of jobs is expected to grow by 7%.


Lawyers represent clients on legal issues and disputes, either in private or corporate legal offices. The median annual wage is $119,250, as of May 2017. Employment is projected to grow by 8% from 2016 to 2026.


Judges are a career choice for those who want to work within the court system. After earning a degree and working towards a judgeship, a judge can, on average, make $115,520 a year. The demand for judges is expected to increase approximately 5% between 2016 and 2026.


For those who are pursuing a career in corrections, such as a probation officer, they can expect to earn an annual income of $43,510 a year. Over the next few years, corrections jobs are predicted to decline by 7%.

See more criminal justice degrees here.

Choose a Criminal Justice Career Today

Criminal justice degrees can open the doors to many rewarding careers that are dedicated to enforcing the law while maintaining social order. There are numerous degree and career opportunities available to those who are passionate about the criminal justice system. Start by earning a degree in criminal justice and begin the path to a rewarding and fulfilling career with endless possibilities.

Once you have obtained a degree, your career options available are seemingly endless. A degree opens doors to several jobs within criminal justice system.


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