Criminal Justice Careers & Salaries 2016

Get info on the best criminal justice careers, jobs, and law enforcement training in 2016.

This robust list of criminal justice careers and salaries is by no means an exhaustive one, but rather continually growing. Each position has a comprehensive criminal justice job description.

Keep in mind that all criminal justice jobs listed have educational requirements and career advancement resources for you to check out in-depth.

Law Enforcement Careers

The following careers in law enforcement are some of the most popular jobs in the criminal justice field.

Job Title

Minimum Education Required

Average Salary

Animal Cruelty Investigator

High School/GED

$33,800 3

Canine Officer / K9 Handler

High School/GED

$59,530 1

County Sheriff / Deputy Sheriff

High School/GED

$59,560 1

Detective

High School/GED

$80,540 1

Game Warden / Conservation Officer

High School/GED

$53,260 1

Park Ranger

High School/GED

$44,500 4

Police Officer

High School/GED

$59,530 1

State Trooper / Highway Patrol Officer

High School/GED

$65,270 2

Most of these are entry level criminal justice jobs​ which require a minimum of a high school diploma and advanced training. A criminal justice degree (or other major) may be helpful, but might not be essential at the time of application.

Federal Law Enforcement Careers

​The federal government offers some of the most rewarding careers in criminal justice through the many federal law enforcement agencies.

Job Title

Minimum Education Required

Average Salary

FBI Special Agent

Bachelor's Degree

$68,662 5

Secret Service Special Agent

Bachelor's Degree

$59,428 6

DEA Agent

Bachelor's Degree

$61,270 1

ICE HSI Special Agent

Bachelor's Degree

$77,210 7

Deputy U.S. Marshal

Bachelor's Degree

$45,371 8

CBP Officer

High School/GED

$45,371 9

Border Patrol Agent

Bachelor's Degree

$45,3719

Federal Air Marshal

Bachelor's Degree

$50,600 9

ATF Special Agent

Bachelor's Degree

$45,371 9, 10

CIA Agent

Bachelor's Degree

$69,630 11

U.S. Capitol Police

High School/GED

$62,772 12

Transportation Security Officer (TSO)

High School/GED

$39,310 13

NSA Police Officer Career

High School/GED

$49,336 14

Immigration Officer, FDNS

Bachelor's Degree

$50,600 9

Diplomatic Security Special Agent

Bachelor's Degree

$50,158 15

U.S. Postal Service Inspector

Bachelor's Degree

$77,210 7

Director of Airport Security (coming soon)

N/A

N/A

​The highest paying criminal justice jobs in the federal government are mostly offered to senior agents and administrative officials. A security clearance may be required for many of the federal law enforcement jobs listed above.

Check out more law enforcement careers which we may have skipped. Looking for military law enforcement positions? You can find them there, too.

Forensic Science Careers & CSI Careers

One of the most interesting careers in the criminal justice field is that of a crime scene investigator (CSI). Generally rooted in sciences, CSI careers were mostly popularized by Hollywood, but there are other equally engaging careers in forensic science that you just must check out.

Job Title

Minimum Education Required

Average Salary

Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) – Forensic Examiner

High School/GED

$56,320 16

Latent Print Examiner – Finger Print Examiner

High School/GED

$56,320 16

Forensic Nurse

Associate's Degree

$67,490 17

Forensic Accountant

Bachelor's Degree

$75,280 1

Forensic Anthropologist

Master's Degree

$64,290 1

Forensic Artist

High School

$51,170 1

Forensic Hypnotist

High School

Varies

Forensic Pathologist

Medical Degree

$202,450 1

Forensic Psychologist

Master's Degree

$77,950 1

Forensic Serologist

High School/GED

$56,320 16

Forensic Toxicologist

Bachelor's Degree

$56,320 16

From careers in forensic anthropology to careers in forensic psychology, there are many forensic careers available for research. An associate's degree in Criminal Justice won't bode well with this list of of criminal justice jobs. Many of the careers in forensics require field specific training and/or specialized education.

Correctional Careers

It is a fact that the jails and prisons in the U.S. are staffed by correctional officers, but there's much more to life behind bars.

Job Title

Minimum Education Required

Average Salary

Correctional Officer

High School/GED

$45,310 1

Correctional Counselor

Bachelor's Degree

$49,360 18

Parole Officer

Bachelor's Degree

$49,360 18

Probation Officer

Bachelor's Degree

$49,360 18

Juvenile Probation Officer

Bachelor's Degree

$49,360 18

Federal Probation Officer

Bachelor's Degree

$49,360 18

Victim Witness Assistant (coming soon)

N/A

N/A

The different careers in corrections aim to work closely with prisoners and the general public. In the end, hopefully making a dent in reducing recidivism and promoting rehabilitation.

Legal Careers

​Some of the best criminal justice jobs are in the legal sector. 

Job Title

Minimum Education Required

Average Salary

Judge

Law Degree (J.D.)

$116,100 19

Paralegal, Legal Assistant, or Legal Researcher

Associate's Degree

$52,390 1

Defense Attorney

Law Degree (J.D.)

$141,920 20

Prosecutor

Law Degree (J.D.)

$134,710 20

Court Clerk

High School/GED

$38,230 1

Bailiff (coming soon)

High School/GED

$44,900 1

Juvenile Court Judge – see: Judge

Law Degree (J.D.)

$116,100 19

Juvenile Court Register (coming soon)

N/A

N/A

Probate Judge – see: Judge

Law Degree (J.D.)

$116,100 19

Pre-trial Officer (coming soon)

N/A

N/A

​With the exception of a few positions, instead of looking into getting an education at the top schools for criminal justice, a paralegal degree and a law degree is what one should look at to work in a court of law.  On average, attorneys and judges tend to have the highest criminal justice salary.

Private Security Careers & Contractor Careers

​For the most part, security careers are non-law enforcement career opportunities which you can pursue by applying for a position and/or gaining a certification.

Job Title

Minimum Education Required

Average Salary

Bounty Hunter – Bail Enforcement Agent

High School/GED

$67,500

Loss Prevention Officer – Loss Prevention Manager

High School/GED

$28,510 1

Security Officer

High School/GED

$28,510 1

Private Investigator

High School/GED

$52,840 1

Fraud Investigator (see: Private Investigator)

High School/GED

$64,350 1

Insurance Investigator (see: Private Investigator)

High School/GED

$64,350 1

Security Analyst (coming soon)

N/A

N/A

Security Operations Manager (coming soon)

N/A

N/A


Table Footnotes

* Some college credits, an associate's degree, or in some cases, a bachelor's degree may be required. This is often dependent on state regulations and the size of a hiring organization. Cities and counties with larger populations tend to require at least some college.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics: National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates​

2. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages - Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers

3. Animal Cruelty Investigator - salary is estimated. There just ins't enough significant data for average salary calculation. Currently, most police departments handle animal abuse calls.

4. Park Ranger - search for "park ranger" on USAJobs.gov

5. FBI Special Agent - U.S. Office of Personnel Management 2016 Salary Data Table. Starting salary includes the average availability pay & locality pay.

6. Secret Service Special Agent - http://www.secretservice.gov/join/careers/agents/

7. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages - Detectives and Criminal Investigators

8. Deputy U.S. Marshal - https://www.usmarshals.gov/careers/compensation.html

9. U.S. Office of Personnel Management 2016 Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Salary Calculator

10. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

11. Central Intelligence Agency, Clandestine Service - Operations Officer

12. U.S. Capitol Police Compensation & Benefits - http://www.uscapitolpolice.gov/compensation_benefits.php

13. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages - Transportation Security Screeners

14. NSA Careers/Intelligence Careers - https://www.intelligencecareers.gov/iccareers.html?Agency=NSA

15. Diplomatic Security Special Agent - U.S. Department of State

16. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages - Forensic Science Technicians

17. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages - Registered Nurses

18. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages - Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

19. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages - Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates

20. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages - Lawyers


Criminal Justice Degrees & Careers

​If you browsed through the above criminal justice careers list you may be wondering what degree to pursue.

The truth is that you can obtain many of these careers with a criminal justice degree. However, you don't have to go to college for criminal justice. You're probably asking: are criminal justice degrees really worth it?

In some cases a criminal justice degree is not required or is not the preferred degree.​ In other cases it's better not to pursue a criminal justice major at all (if you're going into a field in criminal justice that deals with forensics, for example).

You can be very competitive with degrees in business, accounting, biology, finance, law, chemistry, teaching, economics and many other​s. Most places that you'll apply to for work will tell you exactly what they are looking for from a potential candidate... usually right on their website.

​If you are seriously considering one of the many careers in the criminal justice field, and you're thinking of pursuing an associate's or a bachelor's in Criminal Justice, I urge you to read my article that focuses on availability of jobs with a criminal justice degree. It's not a super long read and it might just save you from making a huge mistake. What jobs can you get with a criminal justice degree? Find out!

I have a few other articles sprinkled throughout the site that can help you hone in on what you may or may not need on your quest to a rewarding criminal justice career.​

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.