27 Potential Jobs for Criminal Justice Graduates
Published on: September 23, 2023
Whether you’re interested in law enforcement, victims’ rights, investigations or forensics, the field of criminal justice encompasses more than you might realize. In fact, a degree in criminal justice could potentially open the doors of opportunity for dozens of rewarding and dynamic careers.
We’ve put together a list of in-demand criminal justice career paths that may require related degrees, breaking them down by degree type. While this is an extensive list, it is by no means comprehensive—and the exact degrees required for each job may vary based on the hiring agency and other factors. Still, earning a degree in criminal justice provides you with valuable experience that will differentiate you in the job market and prepare you for hands-on work.
Associate-Level Criminal Justice Degree Jobs
Some jobs in the criminal justice field require an Associate of Criminal Justice Degree, which typically takes about two years to complete. Opportunities with this type of degree are broad, ranging from police officer and state trooper to fire investigator and fraud investigator.
1. Police Officer
Perhaps the most common job that people associate with a criminal justice degree is that of a police officer or patrol officer. These officers work for local police departments (typically at the city or county level) to protect and serve communities. They respond to calls, occasionally make arrests, write reports and work to improve public safety.
2. Criminal Profiler
A criminal profiler is removed from the law enforcement side of criminal justice and is more focused on investigations. Criminal profilers work to create psychological profiles of people who have been charged with crimes or criminals who have yet to be found and arrested.
3. Jail Screener
Another law enforcement position to consider is that of a jail screener. These professionals are responsible for analyzing inmates’ behavior and making recommendations for whether their sentences should be adjusted. Jail screeners typically work in local and state jails, though they are also employed at federal jails and prisons.
4. State Trooper
State troopers also work on the law enforcement side of criminal justice. The primary responsibility of a state trooper is to keep state highways and local roads safe by enforcing traffic laws. However, they don’t just write tickets. Troopers also assist disabled vehicles, handle crash reports and back up local police agencies when needed.
5. Deputy Sheriff
Similar to a police officer, a deputy sheriff works in law enforcement and is tasked with keeping communities safe. The main difference between a police officer and a deputy sheriff is jurisdiction; while police officers are typically assigned to specific cities or towns, a sheriff usually has jurisdiction over an entire county.
6. Fire Investigator
An associate degree in criminal justice may also qualify you for a fire investigator job, where you’ll be responsible not only for investigating the scene of a residential or commercial fire but conducting fire safety inspections on buildings as well.
Bailiffs work in courthouses and are tasked with helping to maintain order in a courtroom. These law enforcement officers communicate with judges in a courtroom to let them know when a case is ready to proceed. They may also assist with escorting jurors, defendants and others involved in a case as needed.
8. Narcotics Officer
A narcotics officer plays a vital role in law enforcement and the criminal justice system, working to prevent the sale and use of illegal drugs and substances. This type of work may involve going undercover and/or conducting surveillance. Narcotics officers are employed by local police departments and the federal government.
9. Homicide Detective
Homicide detectives work primarily in the investigation side of law enforcement, collecting evidence in homicide cases and working to identify suspects. They may handle tasks such as collecting fingerprints and processing evidence from a homicide scene to interviewing witnesses and working alongside other detectives.
10. Crime Prevention Specialist
These days, more cities and communities are turning toward crime prevention specialists to reduce crime rates and make neighborhoods safer. Specifically, crime prevention strategists analyze and research communities, making specific recommendations to reduce crime (such as implementing security and setting up neighborhood watch programs).
11. National Security Agency Police Officer
A National Security Agency (NSA) police officer works specifically in NSA buildings to protect property, patrol the grounds and even provide training to employees. These officers are hired directly by the national government and, in some cases, may participate in counter-terrorism operations.
12. Fraud Investigator
When a person or entity is suspected of fraud, a fraud investigator is called upon to investigate the matter, gather evidence and deliver a report of findings. The main job of a fraud investigator is to determine whether the alleged fraud actually occurred and, if so, what the damages are.
Bachelor’s-Level Criminal Justice Jobs
A four-year bachelor’s degree is common for some more specialized jobs in criminal justice, such as drug enforcement agent and Federal Bureau of Investigation agent.
13. Correctional Officer
A correctional officer is a law enforcement officer who works specifically in jails and prisons to keep the grounds safe. These officers handle important tasks such as checking inmates and visitors for weapons, monitoring inmate activities and making sure cells and other jail facilities are adequately maintained.
14. Investigative Reporter
An investigative reporter is further removed from formal law enforcement and instead may work for the media. Specifically, investigative reporters conduct independent research on major crimes and other events, creating content (such as news broadcasts and articles) to share with the public.
15. Crime Scene Investigator
When a crime occurs, a crime scene investigator may be called upon to analyze the scene and collect evidence. This may include swabbing for DNA and fingerprints, as well as taking photos of the crime scene for future reference. A crime scene investigator plays an essential role in prosecuting criminals.
16. Drug Enforcement Administration Agent
A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent works specifically to enforce laws related to controlled substances while preventing the sale and distribution of illegal narcotics. These agents may be employed by state and local governments as well as national law enforcement agencies, working closely with local police departments to carry out their work.
17. Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent
A Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) agent works specifically for a federal law enforcement agency to protect the country from more serious crimes involving terrorism, organized crime and espionage. These agents often handle the investigations of major crimes, conducting fieldwork to solve crimes and prosecute the criminals responsible.
18. United States Postal Inspector
Postal inspectors play an important role in law enforcement, working to defend and enforce the laws of the United States Postal Service. Postal inspectors may handle the investigation of crimes associated with identity theft, postal facility robberies, assaults on postal workers and even mail theft.
19. Customs Inspector
A customs inspector is responsible for working with members of Homeland Security to keep the borders of the United States secure. These professionals often work directly at border crossings to monitor behavior, bringing drug sniffing K9 units with them to keep illicit drugs from coming into the country.
20. Victim Advocate
Another important criminal justice job is that of a victim advocate, a professional who is specifically trained to support and assist victims of crimes. They work to ensure that victims receive the emotional support, legal representation and other resources they need. This critical social services position provides much-needed support to victims and their families while also helping to deliver justice and closure.
21. Probation Officer
A probation officer is a law enforcement agent who oversees criminals who have been sentenced to probation in lieu of going to prison. These officers maintain regular communication and check-ins with offenders, ensuring that they are following the terms of their probation at all times. These officers can also make arrests when an offender has violated their probation.
22. Fingerprint Technician
Often employed in forensics labs and by local police departments, fingerprint technicians play an important role in the investigation of a crime. Specifically, fingerprint technicians work to lift and analyze fingerprints from crime scenes, as well as collecting other evidence that may have been left behind.
Master’s-Level Criminal Justice Jobs
In addition to a bachelor’s in criminal justice, some more advanced roles may require the distinction of a master’s-level degree in the field. While this isn’t always the case, having a master’s in criminal justice is a great way to set yourself apart from other job applicants.
23. College Professor
Those with a master’s in criminal justice and some experience working in the field may also go on to become college professors. While some schools require a doctorate degree for this type of work, it is becoming increasingly common for schools to hire criminal justice professors with a master’s degree and equivalent field experience.
Working as a college professor is a lot different from working in investigations or law enforcement, but it plays an important role in preparing future generations to work in the field. Professors are hired directly by colleges and universities and may be responsible not only for teaching classes but conducting research and publishing their findings in criminal justice publications.
24. Forensic Psychologist
In more complex crimes, a forensic psychologist may be called in to conduct a specialized investigation into the psychology behind a suspect or victim’s actions. Forensic psychologists are often called upon to testify in the courtroom and work alongside attorneys, law enforcement agents and judges to handle complicated cases.
25. Private Investigator
When a specific financial, legal, civil or criminal case needs to be investigated, a private investigator may be called upon for assistance. Specifically, private investigators handle research, surveillance and other investigative work for private businesses, larger organizations and even individuals. In some cases, private investigators may also be hired by a local police department or other agency for assistance in a missing persons case.
26. Criminal Justice Instructor
A criminal justice instructor works in a similar capacity as a criminal justice professor, teaching classes at colleges and universities. However, an instructor’s job typically does not come with the same level of responsibility to get published or conduct independent research, nor does it come with tenure. Working as a criminal justice instructor involves developing lesson plans, giving lectures, meeting with students during office hours, grading exams and providing feedback to students.
27. Forensic Accountant
A forensic accountant typically investigates crimes or alleged crimes related to money laundering, fraud and embezzlement. These professionals may be called upon to work internally for private companies, or they may be hired by police departments. A forensic accountant is essentially a financial detective, with duties including the analysis of financial data, conducting interviews and aiding in criminal investigations into finances.
Your Story Starts at Park University
With so many criminal justice career opportunities, ranging from options in the private sector to the public sector, having a criminal justice degree provides you with the formal education and preparation that you need for many of the most in-demand jobs in the field.
At Park University, we offer several criminal justice degree and certificate programs to suit your needs, including our BA and BS in Criminal Justice Administration and Undergraduate Certificate Program in Terrorism & Homeland Security. Interested in learning more about our programs, campuses and online programs? Request information today, and we’ll be happy to reach out!