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A Visual Guide to Criminal Justice Jobs

Some professionals are limited in terms of the different options for qualified applicants looking to enter the work force. By comparison, other fields have a seemingly endless range of options to allow entry-level applicants to choose what fits their skills and interests. There is no shortage of high-quality opportunities available with an online degree in criminal justice. Below are just a few of the many options spanning this expansive field.

Criminal Justice Jobs

Criminal Justice Jobs

Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers

Police and sheriff’s patrol officers protect citizens and property by patrolling their assigned areas or by responding to emergency calls. They also enforce motor vehicle and criminal laws and identify, pursue and arrest suspects and perpetrators of criminal acts.

Median Annual Pay: $61,050

Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree preferred, typically in law enforcement or criminal justice

Necessary Requirements:

  • Understanding of federal, state and local law
  • Training in firearm use and emergency response
  • Computer skills and comprehension, both on publicly used applications for writing reports and analyzing data, as well as specialized applications used by law enforcement such as databases

Detectives

Detectives investigate crimes by collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, examining physical evidence and interrogating suspects. If there is sufficient evidence, they can formally charge a suspect with a crime. Detectives and criminal investigators often participate in arrests or raids in specialized areas of law enforcement, such as homicide, drug trafficking or fraud. They may work for local, state or federal agencies, enforcing different aspects of the law.

Median Annual Pay: $79,970

Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree preferred, typically in law enforcement or criminal justice

Necessary Requirements:

  • In-depth understanding of federal, state and local law
  • Specialized knowledge in field, such as forensics, accounting or computer science
  • Attention to detail for collecting evidence and conducting investigations
  • Critical thinking in assessing evidence and conducting interviews
  • Extreme discretion for ongoing investigations

Correctional Officers

Correctional officers and jailers oversee individuals who have been arrested, are awaiting trial or have been sentenced to serve time in jail or prison. Correctional officers are also tasked with searching inmates and their living quarters for contraband, including weapons and drugs. They also screen mail for potential contraband; inspect facilities to ensure they meet community standards; report on inmate conduct; and aid in the rehabilitation and counseling of correction officers.

Median Annual Pay: $43,540

Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree preferred

Necessary Requirements:

  • Knowledge of institutional policies and state regulations
  • Training in security procedures and self-defense
  • Basic understanding of counseling, assistance and supervision of inmates
  • Strong investigative skills to prevent potential violations, including tracking of drugs and other contraband within the correctional facility
  • Understanding of criminal statutory and case law

Bailiffs

Bailiffs maintain safety and order in courtrooms by protecting judges, jurors and other court personnel. Although usually not called into action, a bailiff’s job places them at risk when dealing with dangerous prisoners. Bailiffs can work in local, state and federal court systems.

Median Annual Pay: $42,960

Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree preferred

Necessary Requirements:

  • Knowledge of court policies and regulations
  • Training in safety procedures and self-defense
  • Understanding of security operations and supervision
  • Emergency management procedures
  • Strong communications skills to maintain order in the courtroom

Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists provide social services to prisoners or individuals on probation or parole to assist in their rehabilitation. They work with people who are sentenced to probation following a criminal conviction in lieu of jail time. The day to day duties of a probation officer involve monitoring offenders, coordinating rehabilitation services and arranging job training for parolees.

Median Annual Pay: $51,410

Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree required, typically in social work, criminal justice or behavioral science

Necessary Skills:

  • Understanding of federal, state and local laws and regulations
  • Specialized knowledge in field, such as domestic violence or substance abuse
  • Reporting and other clerical duty
  • Ability to communicate effectively in writing and personal testimony to the courts as to the state of various parolees

Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians advance criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing evidence. Specific duties include field work at crime scenes by taking photographs or drawing sketches of the crime scene; recording details relating to the location of evidence; and collecting and cataloging evidence including weapons, fingerprints and bodily fluids for examination in a crime lab.

Median Annual Pay: $57,850

Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree required, typically in forensic science, chemistry or biology

Necessary Skills:

  • Knowledge of proper forensic procedures for collective evidence
  • Understanding of biology and chemistry
  • Continuing competence with advancing technological tools and sciences
  • Strong memory and cognitive thinking skills to piece together information and evidence collected at various points in an investigation
  • Procedural requirements needed to maintain chain of evidence

Private Detectives and Investigators

Private detectives and investigators assist clients in obtaining legal, financial and personal information.

Median Annual Pay: $50,700

Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree preferred, typically in criminal justice

Necessary Skills

  • Basic knowledge of federal, state and local laws
  • Training in surveillance and investigation
  • In-depth reporting and other clerical duty

Lawyers

Lawyers advise and represent individuals, businesses and government agencies in criminal justice cases. Serving as both prosecutors and criminal defense counsel, lawyers make up the backbone of the criminal justice system. Most judges are also former lawyers.

Median Annual Pay: $119,250

Entry-Level Education: Law degree required

Necessary Skills:

  • In-depth knowledge of federal, state and local statutes
  • Specialized understanding in field, such as criminal, constitutional or tax law
  • Formal training in litigation and negotiation
  • Licensing by the state bar association
  • Strong personal communications skills to counsel clients on their cases, plus the ability to effectively advocate to the court on behalf of clients

Social Workers

Social workers assist individuals, including prisoners and those on probation or parole, with addressing their everyday problems through references to services.

Median Annual Pay: $47,980

Entry-Level Education: Bachelor’s degree required, typically in social work, psychology or sociology

Necessary Skills:

  • Understanding of mental health and sociology
  • Specialized training in field, such as human behavior, policy or clinical work
  • In-depth reporting and other clerical duty

Learn More About a Career in Criminal Justice

 

At Virginia Wesleyan University, our online criminal justice degree program teaches you real-world skills and emphasizes flexibility so that you can fit your education into your already busy life. Our highly qualified professors include lawyers, criminologists, police officers, NCIS officers and a homicide detective, and you’ll learn not just how to work within the criminal justice system, but why that system is necessary.

Upon graduation, you’ll have the skills and knowledge necessary to enter a career in law enforcement, victim support or court support. At Virginia Wesleyan University, discover an online bachelor’s in criminal justice with a social conscience.