Criminal Justice Careers & Salaries 2023

Get info on the best criminal justice careers, jobs, and law enforcement training in 2019.

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

High School/GED

$33,800 3

High School/GED

$44,500 4

High School/GED

$53,260 1

High School/GED

$61,270 1

High School/GED

$62,760 1

High School/GED

$61,270 1

High School/GED

$69,190 2

High School/GED

$81,490 1

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

Bachelor's Degree

$45,371 9,10

Bachelor's Degree


High School/GED

$45,371 9

Bachelor's Degree

$69,630 11

Bachelor's Degree

$61,270 1

Bachelor's Degree

$45,371 8

Bachelor's Degree

$50,158 15

Director of Airport Security (coming soon)



Bachelor's Degree

$68,662 5

Bachelor's Degree

$50,600 9

Bachelor's Degree

$77,210 7

Bachelor's Degree

$50,600 9

High School/GED

$49,336 14

Bachelor's Degree

$59,428 6

High School/GED

$39,310 13

High School/GED

$62,772 12

Bachelor's Degree

$77,210 7

​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

High School/GED

$56,320 16

High School/GED

$56,320 16

Associate's Degree

$67,490 17

Bachelor's Degree

$75,280 1

Master's Degree

$64,290 1

High School

$51,170 1

High School


Medical Degree

$202,450 1

Master's Degree

$77,950 1

High School/GED

$56,320 16

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

High School/GED

$45,310 1

Bachelor's Degree

$49,360 18

Bachelor's Degree

$49,360 18

Bachelor's Degree

$49,360 18

Bachelor's Degree

$49,360 18

Bachelor's Degree

$49,360 18

Victim Witness Assistant (coming soon)



The different careers in corrections aim to work closely with prisoners and the general public. In the end, the goal is to make 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

Law Degree (J.D.)

$116,100 19

Associate's Degree

$52,390 1

Law Degree (J.D.)

$141,920 20

Law Degree (J.D.)

$134,710 20

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)



Probate Judge – see: Judge

Law Degree (J.D.)

$116,100 19

Pre-trial Officer (coming soon)



​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

High School/GED


High School/GED

$28,510 1

High School/GED

$28,510 1

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)



Security Operations Manager (coming soon)



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. By now, 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... that information is 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.​

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

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 -

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

8. Deputy U.S. Marshal -

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 -

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

14. NSA Careers/Intelligence Careers -

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

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Fawn Robertson

    My daughter will be attending college in the fall. She will be attending Alabama State University with a major in Criminal Justice and a minor in Law enforcement. She wants to pursue a career in crime scene investigation. Will this major let her obtain her dream? The school also offers a degree in forensic science with a chemistry minor. My daughter is not good in science. I need your help in setting up her career path. She wants to do something that keeps her interest. Thanks for your help. I am not interested in any on-line courses or schools for her. we live in the state of Alabama.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Alabama State University is a very good academic institution in your State. As far as I know, Alabama State is not a top notch Criminal Justice university, but it is one of a few best in your state. So that’s good : ) Also, in-state tuition is cheaper.

      A Forensic career is different from a police officer, detective, etc. It is a career rooted in many scientific disciplines, and although you don’t have to be strong in science to obtain an initial job offering, it is wiser to take a Forensic Science w/ Chemistry path over the Criminal Justice route if you would want to work as a CSI, lab technician, or in any other Forensic field.

      My first suggestion is to have your daughter and yourself become more aware of what the two different disciplines are all about (Criminal Justice and Forensic Science). The Criminal Justice curriculum focuses a lot on what law enforcement is about, different subsets of criminal justice system, and in general, provides a perspective on the past, present, and future of the criminal justice system (police, prisons, crime labs, terrorism, federal law enforcement, white collar crime, history, criminology, and etc.). Forensic Science is just that: a science based path with stronger emphasis on chemistry, biology, physics, and blood spatter analysis to name a few.

      Courses and the intensity of the program depend on the school offerings, professors running the programs, and perhaps interest in a specific forensic field. Specifically, what would your daughter like to to do in the Forensic Field?

      • LESLI


        • Radek M. Gadek

          For law enforcement careers you must have US Citizenship. For other positions a US Citizenship or Permanent Resident status may be required

      • Sarah

        I am also in college at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I also wanted to be a CSI member. I am currently majoring in Criminal Justice; HOWEVER; as noted from my professors, to be a CSI member, you need a major in science, and not in criminal justice. Or to work for homicide you need to be a police officer for many years before working in a homicide unit – and to be a police officer you do not need a college degree. It is something you may want to look into. Hope it helps!

  • Zoey Granger

    I’m a High School student interested in a Criminal Justice Career. I don’t know what specific job is right for me, though i know i want to be in the Criminal Justice Career. I’m very interested in studying cases, murders, and serial killers. I would also like to be in a career where i would be interviewing, following, or tracking down criminals. I also can see myself helping and protecting people. Friends say I’ve been watching too many movies and CSI shows and that there isn’t a job that meets my interests but i don’t think so. Can you please help me find the right job for me?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Cases, murders, and serial killers fall under the watchful eye of detectives / investigators on local, county, state, and federal levels. Virtually each echelon has an agency or department that deals directly with these issues. These positions are usually achieved after a few/several years on the police force (a Detective’s Exam may be required) or earlier if working for the FBI, for example.

      Interviewing, following, and tracking down criminals can also be achieved on all agency levels (local police to Federal Government). The FBI and the U.S. Marshal Service are a great place to start looking if you’re interested in federal employment.

      Helping and protecting people falls under almost any law enforcement officer position. But, witness protection (for the most part U.S. Marshals provide it), Secret Service Special Agent, Diplomatic Security Agent, or private protection (aka bodyguards) deal with protection on a deeper level.

      Only you can find the right job for yourself. But, I hope you find this site as a great resource to start your job finding quest. Good luck.

  • cindy

    I am 48 years old and have been an RN for 21 years. I am interested in obtaining a BS degree in criminal justice from Capella University. My initial intention was to become a parole / probation officer, but understand that I would not be eligible for this position due to my age. By the time I graduate, I will be 50 years old. Have I “missed the boat” in having a career in criminal justice?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Hi Cindy,

      You’ve sort of “missed the boat” when it comes to law enforcement careers, where the cut off age for new applicants is usually in the late 30s. But that said, law enforcement is a part of the criminal justice field – not the other way around. There are still potential careers that may be of interest to you (see links on this page). Good luck!


  • jamaal

    hello my name is jamaal im gonna be currently getting my degree in criminal justice and i wonder if my families background is gonna hold me back on any careers. mine background is good but none of theirs they live in lifes im trying not to be in thats why im trying to get my criminal justice degree

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I don’t think there should be any hold up. Just make sure you’re in the clear.

  • sarah

    i am entering school this fall, but i have become very interested in the criminal justice field. I am 29 now is it too late for me to even begin to look for a career in this field? im not sure what area im looking into, but maybe into the jail. or the investigation area…Do i enter that police academy to continue?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I don’t think it’s ever too late, but most law enforcement career hopefuls must be on average under 37 years old at the time of hiring.

      For jail related duties you might want to speak with your local Sheriff’s Office and for investigation duties you usually must become a detective after being a police officer first – this doesn’t apply to Federal employment.

      I would speak with the organizations you’re interested in joining. I know that many police agencies offer a recruitment seminar/meeting for those that would be interested.

  • Timmy

    I’m 18 and im about to enter a two year criminal justice program. Im not sure what exactly I want to go into yet but I plan to start at the bottom and work my way up as opportunities present themselves. I want to have the best background possible to be able to advance into whatever career I choose. Would it be best to advance to a bachelors degree after my two year course? Will a police academy help me? Do I need an academy since im taking the college course? What would be the best way to set myself up for career advancement?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      In my opinion it’s always good to advance your education. A police academy is a major requirement in larger municipalities, regardless if you went to college or not. Smaller municipalities may require a state certification to work in law enforcement, which consists of a number of courses and training workshops. Also, for most of the police academies, after completing it successfully you’ll be state certified, too. I think that working for a larger police department — where police academy is required — can give you more opportunities in the future, higher salary, and perhaps chances of advancement. Completed education levels also determine your pay scale, especially in larger departments (larger cities, county sheriff, state police, and most definitely in federal law enforcement – where most highly sought after careers require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree). As for advancement, training and education are one of the aspects. Moral fiber, deeds performed while on duty/off duty, and personal characteristics play a good chunk in your advancement strategy. And as always, interdepartmental politics can make or break chances for advancement. Hope this helps, and I wish you good luck.

  • Brandi Wells

    I am 17 years old and im going into my senior year and i am very interested in forensic carerrs. Do you have to be very smart to go into this field? and also, do you have to be close to dead bodies?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Forensic careers require more of a science based education, so it may be a little harder. You don’t have to be close to dead bodies, there are many forensic careers that don’t require direct contact with a deceased individual.

  • Zo


    Thanks for the consistent updates. There seems to be more interest than ever before in the field!

    My question regarding careers: are there jobs (local, state, federal or private) for current students in CJ, whether it be for Bachelor’s or Master’s candidates? Something that is beyond campus security positions?

    I am reaching the point of exhaustion with my current cubicle job, and even though I will be starting my MCJ program soon, I thought it would be worth looking into graduate student assistantships in the field, whether it be investigative, research, or enforcement.

    Thanks so much.

    • Radek M. Gadek


      You’re welcome!

      Yes, there are jobs in Criminal Justice for people at all levels for Bachelor and Master candidates, although I would have at least a Bachelor’s completed for some state and federal employment options. One caveat of going to school while working (probably full-time in law enforcement / or at least full-time seasonal) would be that many who find their jobs comfy quit schooling altogether. It’s all good and such, but when the time for promotion or salary increase comes your education will most likely be scrutinized. Please read my article about Criminal Justice programs (and all degrees in general) as a requirement for law enforcement jobs — this should give you some perspectives on what you can do now : )

      Yes, now that I read you’ll be starting your Masters in Criminal Justice I can highly recommend student assistantships in the field. Talk to your professors in the new MCJ program about such opportunities — get on it from the get go. I think, in the grand scheme of things, these wonderful opportunities carry a lot of value in your future career — no matter if it’s enforcement, investigative, or research field.

  • sarah

    i have been reading a lot about criminal justice as a whole, just trying to learn as much as i can, i read a section about background checks and one part was about credit checks, can u explain a little more about that..

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Whenever you consider a career in Criminal Justice you have to understand that you’re dealing with highly sensitive information on a daily basis, more over, if you’re in a law enforcement career you deal with much more than that: illicit drugs, illegal money, and people’s lives are on your daily watch.

      The credit check serves often as an indicator to your responsibility — are you paying your bills on time? — but also, it serves as a potential risk factor — do you have a lot of credit card debt (for example)?
      If you’re not paying bills on time and/or you have a lot of debt, or perhaps you defaulted on some loans or had judgments against you, you must be aware that can adversely affect your chances of being hired on. FYI, many agencies, especially on the federal level, automatically disqualify a candidate if they defaulted on Federal Student Loans.

      Nearly all Criminal Justice agencies — not only those providing law enforcement — look over an applicant’s credit to assess the risk value. A good or excellent credit is a sign of stability, it is a statistical indicator of a lesser risk, it can even be interpreted on a psychological basis — taking high debt and negative references on your credit as a potential risk for “skimming of the top” on your next traffic stop or drug bust. These are just examples, but basically cover some of the major reasons why your credit might be checked.

      Background checks are standard, too. They are an absolute must and look for any discrepancies in your life, especially for a criminal record – even certain misdemeanors can disqualify you from becoming a police officer. Domestic Violence and DUIs are often automatic disqualifiers. Like the credit check, a background check is designed to present information about you: have you been in legal trouble? how often have you moved as an adult? jobs you’ve held, and more.

  • Antonio M Diaz

    I’m a Gov employee working in a dead end Gov job, In taking this criminal justice course, could this help me get a better job in the Gov as a background investigator and how can I get a certificate to show proof of completion of the course, will the certificate of proof cost me money.
    I thank you for your help.

  • Miss.Lewis

    In your opinion, what would be my best option to jump start my career in Criminal Justice. In December I will be graduating from college with an AA degree in Criminal Justice. I would like to be a part of the police academy but physically I am not ready for the academy yet. Although my ultimate goal is to become a law enforcement officer, I am open to related careers in this field.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Miss Lewis,

      This is a tough one. As a law enforcement officer, at most policing agencies, you’ll need to pass a Physical Test (PT) in order to come on the force. With an AA in Criminal Justice you should be open for most criminal justice careers. Check out his page and see what career might strike your fancy — there aren’t really “related” careers — you’re either an LEO or not. So to jump start your career, perhaps dispatcher jobs can be of help, certain prison positions may allow you to work, even if they may require a PT. Other than that, certain internships at the law enforcement agency of interest can help. As a last jump start scenario you may actually consider taking the Physical Test — most police departments administer them before most of the hiring processes are set in place. You may learn your strengths and understand your weaknesses better by trying, but depending on the agency, it may be looked at detrimentally next time you apply. Good luck Miss Lewis!

  • Jason


    I am deaf and junior student and majoring in criminology at Florida State University and I have Associate Degree in Criminal Justice and Liberal Studies. I don’t know what is specific job that i want to work? I know that some deaf employee work at CIA and FBI. So I had federal student employment for summer 2009 and had to work with Security Force Squadron for US Department of Air Force. So I need to know what i want to work for specific job? I know that Florida State University offer CSI Underwater program and have FBI and FDLE program in some courses but i am trying to get some answer from my mind and life for future career. I will graduate in 2011 or 2012. I appreciate if you can help me out.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I personally wouldn’t know how to help you out. It’s a very “tough cookie” to crack.

      If someone can pitch in with some constructive input, that would be great.

  • Akie

    I was wondering, lets say i wanted to have any career in criminal justice but that doesnt contain being a police officer.. What career would be best for that? If you dont get me, this is what i am trying to say:
    I want to be part of criminal justice but i dont want to become a police first and then get the job i want. I hope you can help me with that.

    • Radek M. Gadek


      Check out the many non law enforcement careers above. But if that’s not what you’re looking for than perhaps I can make this analogy work:

      If you’re looking to be a detective at a police department, but would like to skip being a police officer first — and the minimum average of 3-5 years of waiting before being eligible to take the Detective’s Test — you’re out of luck. In nearly all law enforcement agencies, from smallest (villages) to largest (federal government), you have to “earn your stripes.” Even advanced education like a Master’s or a PhD doesn’t exempt you from starting out at the lowest level.. the only probable difference would be that you would get a higher salary and be eligible for promotion faster (not always applicable).

      Now, the story can be entirely different if you’re non law enforcement personnel; with a Law Degree, for example.

  • Erica

    I am currently enrolled at the University of Phoenix working on my degree in Criminal Justice. I was thinking about becoming a Probation/Parole officer, Alcohol or substance abuse counselor, or a Crime Analyst. What other schooling might I need besides getting my degree in criminal justice?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I think you might be just fine with a criminal justice degree for nearly all the professions. The first two types of positions can also benefit from some social work related courses. The crime analyst position can benefit from forensic science courses.

  • liliana garcia

    im liliana garcia and i’m currently a senior in high school. I want to get involved in criminal justice careers but im not sure of what to major in.
    I like working in computers, but i also want to be in a office like getting records of people or anything. I want to be involved in crime scenes also. Would i also fit in the major of probation officer? can you email me back please. Thank you.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      You’re all over the place here. If you like IT, but like criminal justice, perhaps IT Security could be a great start. If you like crime scene stuff, then IT can help for things like data recovery from a crime scene. But, if you’re looking for dealing with cadavers, blood spatter analysis, or ballistics then you should look into Forensic Science schooling and careers. Probation Officers can benefit from Criminal Justice and Social Science courses.

  • D. Quinn

    I will be obtaining my Associates for Criminal Justice with a major in police enforcement from Kaplan University. I am 42 years old, I do not want to be a police officer, (the University recruiter mislead me on courses) I am looking to become a legal researcher, work for a background investigation company or become a juvenile probation officer. I am wondering if any certification courses would be good or would it be better to acquire a degree in law.

    Any help is greatly appreciated!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      many legal research jobs can be obtained through a Paralegal degree or certifications. I would look in that direction. Certification courses can be good, degrees in related fields are always better, and a law degree is many times unnecessary. A law degree is worth it if you would be interested in being an attorney.

  • Viktoria

    Hi I’m 35yrs old back in school for an RN degree, but lately leaning towards Criminal Justice career. Such as Forensic Nurse or Forensic Investigator.
    Isn’t it true that you must be a born in the us citizen to work for the FBI or CIA? I’m a citizen but was not born here. Also is my age an issue? or will it be in the next 3yrs? Thank you!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      You must be a US citizen, either born OR naturalized. You have to be a born US citizen if you want to become the President. As for your age, now’s the time to look into law enforcement related career choices, especially with the FBI and the CIA. You may have less than a few years to qualify for employment at most law enforcement based positions (police officer, sheriff deputy, FBI Special Agent, DEA Special Agent, and etc.).

  • Mike Hatcher

    Radek, I am enjoying reading your blog! It has a lot of useful information. I double majored in sociology and criminal justice in my undergraduate degree. I later obtained a criminal justice: justice administration master’s of science degree from Tiffin Ohio.

    I work as a pretrial officer and am excited to see you list this career option. In my state pretrial services is a state agency unlike other places where it may be a county agency or a non-profit.

    I love my job but still want to move up to a higher position or obtain a position elsewhere. Though I have a master’s degree I have supervisors with lower levels of education (even GED level).

    I am glad that a lot of criminal justice careers now require at least a 4 year degree, as I think we need well educated people in the criminal justice system.

    In the future I’d like to continue my education. I would like to either obtain 18 hours in graduate sociology work or obtain a graduate certificate in criminal justice ( to add another emphasis).

    Any thoughts?



  • Mike Hatcher

    I forgot to mention that the idea of obtaining a graduate certificate in criminal justice to add another emphasis would be obtaining one in a subject area such as forensic psychology, forensic criminology, or something of this nature.

    I’m not sure if obtaining a graduate certificate once one already has a completed master’s degree is a good idea or not.

    If I did it would mostly to enrich myself with new courses since I miss school a lot. I find value in learning in and of itself , but it would be nice to have more job opportunities.


    • Radek M. Gadek

      I think that graduate certificates, on top of a grad degree, are a great addition to one’s personal repertoire. I think it can definitely help, despite you having a master’s degree already. As for your supervisors, it will be a little bit more time before those that are / were grandfathered in will either retire or be required to complete more educational requirements related to their careers. I it my life’s experience that tells me: if someone is educated it doesn’t mean they always know what they are doing, but those with hands-on experience can provide that someone with the help in real-life applications. Hang in there.

  • Daniel Michaels

    Hey Radek,

    This blog is extremely helpful. Thank you; I have found more useful information here than anywhere else with regards to criminal justice by far!

    I’m currently a Junior at Northern Arizona University with a major in Criminal Justice and minors in Chemistry and Sociology. For the last two years, I was a biochemistry major, but I found that any math course more advanced than Calculus is beyond my comfort zone. My late change in majors explains the two minors… Seeing as I am particularly interested in forensics and CSI, do these minors help me at all?

    My main concern is the amount of science and math expected/required to pursue a career in crime scene investigation or forensics (as I’m sure are inevitable). Is having completed math courses through Calculus enough to succeed in this field? Also, I have taken quite a few chemistry and biology courses over the past two years, but will not major in a science… would a minor in chemistry be sufficient enough in an employer’s eyes? I’m more than willing to work for a masters to secure a job in this area. Do you think a masters would prove especially helpful? And if so, in what area should I get a masters?

    Thanks so much for all your help. :-)

    • Radek M. Gadek

      1. these minors are of great help in my opinion

      2. minor in chemistry can be more than sufficient for some organizations, while others may require an advanced degree – it all depends on the position you seek

      3. depending on the need of crime labs, private organizations, and other forensic entities you may secure a position with a bachelor’s degree, where as in other places, you may need to obtain a master’s degree – check with the places of interest by phoning in, stopping in, or simply checking out career info on pertinent sites – that’s the best I can help with this one.

      3a. In my opinion, a masters can be particularly helpful in the grand scheme of things (makes life a little easier, but not always) – degrees in Forensic Science and hard sciences, like Chemistry and Physics, may help — I would also check out careers of interest which are often accompanied by educational requirements similar or different from what I’ve just listed. To help you with that see recommendation in point #3 + consider looking at state and federal employment vacancies which are often very well detailed with job descriptions, salary & benefit info, and of course, requirements of ALL sorts.

      Please keep us updated and good luck with everything.

  • sndy

    im 19 yrs old just graduated from high school still dont know what to do im realy aiming for a career in criminal justice fild i watch too much NCIS, CSI and criminal minds…. im mostly intrested in crime sene investigation but i dont know where to start off my life but now im thinking of joining the army so my question is… …is joing the army goin to lead me on a career in criminal justic ????????

    • Radek M. Gadek

      There’s no guarantee that it will.

  • Beth

    Im a junior in high school and been leaning toward a criminal justice career. Since I love animals Ive thought long and hard about being an animal crulty investigator. What colleges would be best for me to attend for this career choice?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      For most a college or university offering a criminal justice degree will do. However, I would contact organizations such ASPCA to find out if they have any preferences. Speak with someone in the law enforcement department and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

  • Brian

    I am a Police Officer with a department of about 80 sworn officers. I have a B.S. in a non criminal justice field. I have been looking at getting a masters and later a Phd. I first considered getting a Masters in Public Administration as I felt this would be better for promotion. Now I am cnsidering CJ as I have thought that I would like to maybe become a professor down the road in the CJ field.

    What are your thoughts on CJ versus MPA? If I did go with MPA, could I then get a Phd in CJ and teach in the future or would I need to go CJ all the way?

    Thank you for your help.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I think both options are great, but before you apply to an MPA program read EVERYTHING it will entail. In short, it’s a program not only for those in law enforcement, but other non-LEO individuals who are seeking to manage in the govt sector can benefit from this degree track. For many police officers the CJ option comes naturally and may be of most value to them. With that said, the decision is up to you.

      As for professorship, a career and a degree in a related field are often of great help.

      If you do go the MPA route, you may, in all likelihood, be able to take your PhD in Criminal Justice. FYI Most colleges and universities will allow Bachelor grads to apply into a PhD program, sometimes skipping the Master’s OR often times completing both degree levels in the PhD track (both = Master’s and PhD).

      In the end the decision is yours, so make sure it is well supported. Good luck, Brian.

    • Marc

      Radek provided a valid point on the relevancy of both the MCJ and MPA degree tracks. Focusing on the MCJ track will allow you to acquire a more comprehensive view of the criminal justice system, possibly allowing you to focus on various sub-categories of the criminal justice/law field. Not to exclude global issues, the MCJ degree is a great start if you are considering on entering the field as a professor. The MPA degree is an excellent supplemental degree and allows you to focus on the administrative side of management, consisting of policies, structures, financing, and enhancing one’s ability to interpret and apply management principles effectively. As an aspiring professor, you would definitely benefit from either of the two degrees as a base, as either degree plan will allow you to participate in either a PhD in PA or CJ (or possibly both if you would like to expand your teaching horizons).

      Like Radek stated, many degree tracks exist that allow the student to concurrently pursue two or more degrees in one streamline program, adding onto the fact that you are able to take combination classes for multiple degree requirements, rather than focusing on a single degree. Personally, I enrolled in a dual MCJ/MPA program at a college of my choice to expand my horizons for federal law enforcement and to allow greater flexibility in selecting a PhD for teaching. The normal MCJ program consists of about 42-46 credits, but you are able to add on a supplemental master’s degree (such as a MPA) for a total of only 52-58 credits; as some colleges allow many of the classes offered to be accredited to multiple degree requirements.

      Researching and participating in a program that is most interesting to you is the main concern, especially when you are considering a PhD after acquiring your masters (or concurrently with your masters). In addition, depending on where you would like to teach, a masters is only required if you would like to begin in community college and PhD is at least required for becoming a professor at larger universities (not excluding required supplemental certifications, published works, ect.). Just be sure to make a plan and stick to it! As long as you are interested in your degree/career path, you’ll find the extra education beneficial (especially when seeking management positions, as many agencies now require the employee to have a combination of work experience and education). I wish you the best of luck.

      • Radek M. Gadek

        Great info, Marc.

  • Kimberly

    Hi, i’m a senior high school student. I want to become a Animal Cruelty Investigator and i know i have to do trainning in my local law enforcement, also voultneer at my local animal shelter. I was wondering what community college and college after i transfer would be best for my carrer? I sorta want to go to community college in North Calorina but i’m not sure.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Great question. In reality, there is no perfect college for Animal Cruelty Investigator career track, as Harvard University wouldn’t be for the study of Criminal Justice. All I can tell you, despite where you live and where you would like to go to school, is:

      Make sure it’s a school you like.
      Make sure it’s a school that’s regionally accredited (important if you want to transfer credits or go onto further studies like: Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD.)
      Community Colleges offer cheaper tuition rates, but often don’t grant degrees or grant an Associate’s degree. Be mindful of that.
      Speak with an enrollment adviser about all these issues and more.

      In all, there’s no name dropping in the community college arena, but some CCs can offer great educational opportunities at an even better price.

  • Wayne Moore


    I’m looking to be a bounty hunter. i’m 16 and i really dont know how to start to get the classes i might need in high school to help me get the career I want can you help tell me what classes I might be able to get in high school so I don’t need to worry about them in college

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Each state mandates the requirements for bounty hunters. Check out your state’s official website for more information or contact a local bail bondsman to get more info.

  • sarah

    I have a question, I am 29 a single mother of 2 I am back in school, studying criminal justice. I want to work in an area of. The office, what kinds of jobs are offered that I can still be in this field but work in a office, ex. In the jail, but I do the. Paperwork or the not so dangerous work. Does that make sense? Where can I learn more about these jobs and what direction do I need to take in school?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      you should inquire about civilian positions, such as a clerk, dispatcher, or executive assistant in the criminal justice field. Look for such opportunities on the website of agency you’re interested working for. Look at local police departments (municipal), the Sheriff’s Office (county), State Police (state), even the FBI has a need for civilian employees (Federal).

  • Darren

    I have just completed my undergrad in Psychology and have taken a year out to decide what to do next. I am considering postgraduate education in forensic psychology or criminology, would there be any point in doing a master’s in each? Would the differences between the two fields and the knowledge gained be beneficial in choosing a career in criminal/crime investigation?
    Any help or advice you can give would be greatly appreciated

  • Shawna

    Hi! Ok so ever since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to do the whole criminal justice thing. Either police/k-9 work or FBI type stuff. When I turned 18 I made the mistake of getting 2 credit cards and a car loan and pretty much burying myself. I have a clean record but I have bad credit. Should I just give up and change my major? I don’t wanna waste my time and money trying to pursue a career in something I know I wont get hired because of my credit. I don’t know what to do!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Life isn’t over when you have bad credit. Most credit problems disappear within 7 years, and if you write to the creditor, you might be able to sway them to remove the bad credit entry. Yes, credit is an indicator for many careers, not only law enforcement, so I would take that into consideration. Regardless, I would make sure my credit is stellar (from this point forward) and apply when the time comes (let’s say when you’re done with your major). If you show that you have become financially responsible, all the adolescent credit woes can be explained away — it’s not always a convincing thing to do, but most recruiters / administrative staff know what life entails and try to review an applicant based on numerous factors, not only credit

      I say, pursue what you wish, and don’t be afraid of what comes up. Yes, DO keep away from legal trouble – absolute must… and stay away from any financial mess from now on. All the best.

  • Juliana

    Hi, my name is juliana, i’m in college and my major is accounting, i took a course in criminal justice and i like it so i would like to combine my major accounting and criminal justice, Also i want to know if there are job opportunities if i combine both and which ones.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      The field of criminal justice is vast and yes there is plenty of space for those who like accounting. The FBI, for example, likes those with Business and Accounting majors to the point they state it in their Career FAQ section (see their site for more info) — you don’t need a criminal justice minor, but when looking at municipal, county, and state departments, it can be of some help.

      Possible Career Choices:
      Administrative accounting positions in the Criminal Justice system (ie. police dept.)
      Civilian entry level accounting positions (ie. Sheriff’s Office)
      FBI Special Agent (this Federal agency consists of many talented college grads who collectively have umpteen major types)
      DEA Special Agent (Federal agency)
      Forensic Accountant (you might want to inquire with your school about what courses you can take to satisfy most requirements for this position)
      AND, with a Bachelor’s degree from a properly accredited school you will be able to apply as a law enforcement officer at your local, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

  • Nelo Freijomel

    I am currently completing my fourth year of architecture school at Florida Atlantic University nd have looking at graduate school options and am interested in a masters degree in criminal justice. I have always been interested in the criminal justice field but have no desire to pursue law enforcement. Are there any career opportunities available that would combine the skills from both degrees or would I end up choosing between two different career paths? I have also been considering the possibility of applying to law school and am wondering if that may be a better combination of degrees.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Quite frankly, I think it would be very tough to put together an architectural degree with a criminal justice degree. Yes, there are carriers in the criminal justice system where you don’t have to work as a law enforcement officer.

      A law degree is an ultimate degree. But law school ain’t easy. Search for the term law school on my site to get more info. I wish you all the best in your academic endeavors.

  • Terrina

    I am 21 years old and I am currently getting my Associates in Criminal Justice in the State of Michigan. I will graduate in December of this year, but I am going to stay enrolled there & just take online classes just to get some out of the way. I will be moving to Bloomindale, Illinois in June as well. I will be finding a college after 6 months of living there (so i dont have to pay out of state tuition) but i haven’t decided on a college or anything yet. I eventually want to do something along the lines of CSI or criminal profiling. Something along those lines. But ive been doing research and it seems as if you have to have 1-3 years of experience to do anything! Its really stressing me out. What kind of jobs can i look into that only require an associates in Criminal Justice and could possibly give me experience into the profession i hope to have. Im sorry if this is confusing.. im confused myself!
    thank you so much

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I know how the process of finding the right college education and carrier to match it can be grueling. Yes, many places require some sort of experience before you can do anything. However, with an Associates degree in criminal justice you can inquire at crime scene labs about possibility of paid internships/training. As for criminal profiling, criminology or criminal psychology are probably your best options – I would still inquire with your professors before you make the final decision.

  • CC

    Hi, I’m really interested in becoming a probation officer.
    I’m kinda small however, and not very good at running and sports :/
    I’d love to help people change though. what do you think?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I wouldn’t put everything on your physical appearance and abilities. It still is worth trying. The best thing is to contact someone who’s performing this job and ask his/her opinion. Good luck.

  • best w

    i just got back from a tour of duty as a gunner on convoy security. thats pretty much all the experience i have as far as law enforcement.i really want to work for a branch of homeland security and need about to enroll in college and need to know what to take to get me a job in the field. thanks.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      1. Thank you for your service
      2. If you know which DHS agencies you would like to consider then you should go to that agencies site and see the educational requirements (just as a general example: FBI likes Accounting and Business majors).
      3. Contact a recruiter of the agency and ask more questions
      4. Pick a college or university that is fairly priced, is regionally accredited, has the program you want, and that you’ll like to attend
      5. Some popular agencies hire with little or no college experience needed, but most of the popular ones require a Bachelor’s degree

      Most Govt. agencies are open minded and they look at more than the college degree. Character and professional experience play a big role in the application process. Military experience is a plus, but you probably knew that already. Good luck.

  • Jennay

    Hi, My name is Jennay and I am currently attending a community college in Kentucky. I will be finishing up here in the spring with my AA in criminal justice and a certificate in computer forensics. I was wanted to ge my BS in criminal justice concentrating in computer forensics but I was wondering if you think I would be able to land a good job in computer forensics with just my AA?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      It’s hard to tell if an AA will be sufficient. It mainly depends on the region you’re in and the needs of the surrounding agencies. Those competing with you for the spot who have a Bachelor’s degree will in all likelihood get the position over a person with an Associate’s degree. However, I think it doesn’t hurt to try anyway.

  • Evan

    Hey Radek,

    I’m a senior in high school and plan to major in criminal justice with a possible minor in psychology. I plan to, at least, go for a bachelors degree in CJ. I really enjoy the idea of being a detective/investigator, but do not want to be a police officer for the years preceding being a detective. I also enjoy shooting firearms and believe that I could handle myself in stressful situations if need be. I know that I could go into the Private Detective field, but I would like to try to join an organization right after college and private detective agencies may not be the most practical decision.

    With all this considered, what do you think is a good fit for me? I don’t mind challenging myself academically and physically.

    Thanks and hope all is well

    • Radek M. Gadek

      There’s usually no way you can become an investigator for a police department, unless you take the detective’s exam, which is administered to sworn law enforcement officers.

      Being a private detective is a totally different animal altogether. You’ll probably have to get some experience with a PI agency first, THEN you probably will have to make a name for yourself if you want to work for a good agency or yourself. Think of being a private detective as opening your own business. Your name is everything.

      You can also be an investigator at leading state police departments, some without being a sworn police officer first. These usually require a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree, with a preference of an advanced degree AND this position is probably given to those that apply with prior law enforcement experience.

      Federal agencies, such as the FBI, are a great fit, too.

      It’s very hard to gauge what life will throw at you as each way brings different challenges. There are probably few other ways you can become a detective, but in general it will take experience nonetheless. With that title, comes great responsibility, thus jumping through too many rungs on the ladder will either be without merit, bring out the lack of experience, and often may lead to investigative errors which may be irreversible. Consider this before you get discouraged.

      Good luck, Evan.

  • Nic

    I am 26 years old and 3 weeks away from completing my BA in Criminal Justice in the state of CA. I am still not sure as to what exactly I want to become. I know I do not want to become a Police officer. To be honest I am not aware of all the opportunities that are out there. I enjoy helping people but I am not interested in an authoritative position(police, corrections officer etc). People can describe me more of a white collar worker. Can you give me some suggestions? I am so lost.
    Also, I want to make aware that I have a DUI that I received over four years ago, I know on paper this doesnt look the greatest. I am afraid that all these years of schooling will be useless because of this blemish. Any and all insight will be appreciated…

    • Nic

      Or what about the option to expunge my record? All of my requirements have been fulfilled and I am officially off court probation…

      • Radek M. Gadek

        Please check out the careers section in the top navigation to see a sample of different careers that may be available to you.

        A DUI can be a huge sore when applying for law enforcement related positions (police officer, FBI Special Agent, etc.). A degree in Criminal Justice is more of a professional degree, unless you have a graduate degree where you can use it in academia and research, for example. Thus, it would be a little harder to find careers within the criminal justice system. But trust me, there are civilian positions that you may qualify for, despite the DUI.

        Saying that, there are departments and agencies that DO hire law enforcement officers – on a case by case basis – with a prior DUI conviction. Often, the recency and the circumstances are taken into consideration. Expunging your record may help, but doesn’t mean that you can say that you were never arrested. Law Enforcement agencies use the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) to view criminal record entries – expunged or not – within the scope of hiring law enforcement officers. Again, despite that, it is not an absolute “NO” – a DUI may not help, but it isn’t the end of the world, either. The best thing to do is to contact someone within the agency you would like to work for about their DUI clause. Some agencies have an open disclosure policy about their hiring process and include this information in their recruitment packets or agency websites.

        Felonies, drug convictions, and domestic violence convictions are often automatic disqualifies.

  • Annel

    I am pretty confused in what to major in
    I wanted to get a major in criminal justice but not exactly just that I thought it would be nice to look into a bachelors degree in sociology with an emphasis in criminology
    Because, the school I want to go to, UCR only offers this when trying to get a major in criminology
    Do u think this will help me get jobs in criminology or sociology ?because im into psychology and sociology but I want to work in the criminal justice field . Do you think that is possible
    Like been a youth counselor or something of that sort but id want it to be boring like in an office all day
    I was also wondering what jobs do you think I can get with the degree I previously mentioned
    I know it might sound confusing but hopefully u can help me
    I am trying to get an app with someone from ucr
    But,i would want someone elses opinion like yours
    Thanks a lot

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Criminal Justice, Criminology, Sociology, and Psychology are all very needed fields in the criminal justice system. I feel that picking the option you like most will be of most benefit to you. Remember this: you’ll only go to school four years, but will work in the field 6-8 times as many, so make sure you enjoy what you do when it comes to work.

      For career info please check out the careers section (you can find it in the top navigation menu)

  • Elliott Hull

    I am a 21 year old college student with two years left for my Criminal Justice Degree at CSU Sacramento. I am very interested in the CHP and eventually the FBI. What do you recommend I do outside of school to give me an edge and help me stand out? I might also be interested in the secret service. I realize that being bilingual is a huge advantage and I am working on that. The CHP is my main goal but they are not currently hiring. Thanks for this awesome site, it is a wealth of knowledge.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is one of the best state patrol systems in the nation, if not the best. Kudos on your aspirations.

      Outside of school, I recommend that you don’t get into legal trouble (including a DUI), that you keep in top physical condition and try to prepare for the physical examination before you apply. Also, consider extracurricular activities, like: joining a Basketball League. DO focus on learning a desirable second language. Try to participate within your community in any special events (ie. Food Drives, Blood Drives, or any “worthy” causes). Taking some Red Cross courses in First Aid can be of some benefit to you, even though you’ll most likely be trained once hired again.

      Having these and other attributes, along with a good moral fiber and a strong academic background, should help you stand out. CHP is highly competitive, and so is the FBI, thus, anything that can take you over the edge can be of great benefit. Good luck.

  • Thomas

    I want to get my associate’s degree In criminal justice, however I do have 1 felony for theft (years ago) and am on deferred probation (Ill be off by the time I finish school) what jobs that are not barred from me? (such as police officer ect ect)

    • Radek M. Gadek


      You might have a tough time getting into almost any direct law enforcement job. By “direct”, I mean jobs like Police Officer, Sheriff Deputy, FBI Special Agent, and similar positions. I do know of cases where people were able to get on certain departments, but it was for a crime that was committed long ago. Still, I would look up the department you’re interested in and go online to see what their disqualifying factors are. Most modern agencies have detailed info right on their site or you can contact the HR / Recruiting Dept for an employment packet.

  • Thomas

    thank you for your time/help/site I do have one other question,

    In terms of going to school for a careers, what field do you suggest? So far every type of associate’s I looked In to would pretty much be a dead end.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I feel that now a days an Associate’s degree doesn’t carry that much value. Also, there are limited number of degree programs for the 2-year term. Bachelor level degree programs offer a plethora of study fields and I think would help out a lot with seeking a career in the present market. I don’t know what to tell you, Thomas. The best thing I can say is: “Do what you love to do” — considering your circumstances.

  • Patrice

    I want to do something in criminal justice . I love to solve problems and think but also i am observer and I Love to help people . But in my head I am always thinking why ? I thought being a forensic psychologist . I want to know more about, What do you think?

  • Orlando

    Hi my name is Orlando and I am currently enrolled in college studying criminal justice. Ive come to that point where decisions on what career path i want to follow is pressuring me and i quite don’t know where i’d fit in. Living near the south Texas border, ive been accustomed to the federal jobs that are common such as the Border Patrol. But I somehow dont feel like im capable of such work mainly because i have a peaceful personality. Is there any work that I can be involved with the Federal Government where i dont have to be out arresting criminals?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Sure, there are jobs that are commonly referred to as “support personnel positions.” Some of the careers are: Linguist, Computer Technicians, Accountants, and others, that as you can see, may require a completely different skill/education requirement. There are also careers in the court system, in the prison system, in the private industry, and of course municipal, county, state and federal governments. These criminal justice careers carry different names and are best explored by picking a field / type of work you would most likely want to do. Then, research the heck out of it. Behind the law enforcement there needs to be a support team, but usually other skills are essential.

  • Ryan

    I am currently attending UMass Amherst as a Sociology major with a Criminal Justice concentration certificate under a “build your own degree program” and minoring in Information Technology. My dream is to work for the FBI but I know that they get 15,000 applicants a month and that my chances are slim. Anyways, I was wondering what professions in this field are the highest paid within 10 years of graduating college. I know that there isn’t a lot of money offered in this field, and I do not want to become a lawyer or a cop. FBI agents have amazing benefits but I know my chances of working for them are almost nothing. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  • michelle

    what is all this really about never have what ask for on these wesites

  • Arielle

    I’m currently pursuing a bachelors in legal studies with a minor in sociology, I’m due to graduate in 2011. I’m interested in paralegal work but, do I have other options besides paralegal and/or law school to have a great career? If it helps I live in FL and I’m 26 years of age. Thanks!

  • Pamela

    hey,i just wanted to know, if your planning on going into a criminal justice career is it better to get an associates degree first. because i want to become a forensic scientist. i’m more of a inside/outside person. i don’t like to be inside to long and i don’t like to be outside to long. so maybe you could help me decide on my career many jobs are there in forensic science field??. and what degrees should i get while considering this option????

    is it ok if i get an associates degree in criminal justice first???before i start moving higher to get my masters and bachelors??

  • Maurice Patton

    I just received my bachelors degree in criminal justice and I want to start a career with probation or couciling but I can not find any openings. Where should I go next?

  • Chelsea Ann


    I am a fifteen year old Freshman from Salt Lake City, Utah who has recently grown and interest in aiming for either a career in the Criminal Justice league, or else Forensic sciences (I’m leaning more toward Forensics).

    First, I would like to say that the above links and the site in general was incredibly helpful in my beginning searches for this sort of career path. Thank you.

    Secondly, I see myself growing to be a Forensic Artist, seeing as I already make it a habit to include art (Both traditional and digital) and three dimensional creations within my education and daily life already, and plan to continue so throughout my college courses, along with some sort of Law/Criminal Justice class. I hope to achieve a Bachelors Degree, at the very least.

    However, I am still interested in other branches. Such as some sort of field work, or something to do with cadavers and their identification. It’s an odd notion (as my peers have told me many a time), but I wish to help the living by studying and assisting the recently deceased. My only road block would be which Forensic to pursue, and how I should spend my High School and College education preparing for such. I am willing to spend as many years in School to reach any of the Forensics, though I prefer under ten.

    Now, since I seem to be rambling, my question is; What path would you suggest to a young lady interested in a future career dealing with Forensic Sciences and the like? Or else any other advice?

    Much thanks, hope you reply back soon!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Great questions!

      I will come on the record, that I’m not very well versed in Forensics, but based on your inclinations I would recommend careers as a Forensic Artist, Forensic Anthropologist, or a Medical Examiner. Of course, some of these positions require either PhD and/or MD credentials, but there are support careers in these fields, where a 4 year degree and/or state certification or license can help you in obtaining a position within the field. If there’s someone that’s more seasoned on these issues than me, please feel free to add to the mix.

      I would recommend you check out more info on these careers. Some are listed here, others are elsewhere on the Web, and some you might want to research by going to places where “studying of cadavers” commences. Good luck!

  • Vivian Pagan

    I have question or may I say a concern. I have a Bachelor Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a major in Prelaw and also a Masters in Criminal Justice & Criminology but I have been working assisting attorneys in Civil law for 5 years but I am having issues finding a job. I am thinking of studying something else that will help me get a job in the criminal field or something related to my education and experience. I need opinions and suggestions!!!!! thanks in advance.

  • Jasmine

    Hi There,
    So i’m a sophomore in college now and i’m thinking about majoring in criminal justice but i don’t know what type of job i would like. I want to work around kids, is there anything with kids? & I am also bad at science so i’m trying to keep away from it.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Sure, juveniles commit crimes, too. There are juvenile facilities nationwide who need counselors all the time.

      Other than that, I don’t see too many opportunities to work with kids, with an exception of a Community Liaison Officer. This position serves as the intermediary between the police department and the community / communities the police officer works in. CLOs may work with schools, businesses, and other entities. It’s a diplomatic position, more or less, so not many people get it. Not all police departments have a full time Community Liaison Officer (in your area this career might be under a different title).

  • Josh

    Hi, I have been interested in the criminal justice field for a while. I live in Texas and I have a felony arson charge on my record, but I’m not convicted. So from what I have seen I have to wait 10 years before becoming a police officer. I also have pretty bad credit due to a bad divorce and getting discharged from the army. Is there anything I can do in the criminal justice field to get some experience? I have looked around but I haven’t been able to get much information, and I am not sure where to go. I am also waiting on an appeal on my discharge in order to get my GI Bill, so I am looking into college degrees

    • rose

      Hey Josh, don’t give up, you don’t have to look at just a police officer right now, start on your own with where you live, speak to an advisor at any college and have them help you with your FAFSA/Financial aid and have them pull up the Minor and Major study courses for the Criminal Justice field, as You will have to take some basic courses first, then comes the heavier Intro to Criminal Justice, Criminology, Juvenile Justice, and other courses related to the Criminal Justice Field. I know of a few individuals who actually have been in the Pen and went through college for Criminal Justice, one is a lawyer now for parole’s, another in bounty hunting. Its all up to you, get yourself some college background with the Criminal Justice field and that will be a head-start in the right direction. I am in the Criminal Justice field right now, but due to an injury i cant be a police officer but i will be a detective one day.

  • nick m

    i am taking criminal justice/ pre law classes at UNR. i was thinking about my career choices as DEA FBI CIA SWAT or Sheriff. what could i do to help me decide what to do after i get out of school? also how do i know what field is right for me?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Check out each article on a particular agency. Then, I would still visit the agency website where you can learn more (there’s only so much I can do on my own) – there you can get the latest updates.. especially on hiring.

      The decision is yours to make. It won’t be easy, but do take ample time to decide.

      You know if the field is right for you when you can feel the excitement of that new venture run through your veins. But really, I would recommend attending any open houses, job fairs, and open-to-the-public events these agencies offer and talk to people that have done the job and can provide you with answers one-on-one. Most of the time, police agencies and other law enforcement organizations, promote such events on their websites. Trust me, even if you live in a rural area, I would go visit a bigger town/city in order to “push me over the fence.”

      Good luck

  • kandice

    i was interested in the correctional officer or probation and i was wondering what the top paying jobs would be today ? does anyone know?

  • Sherri G

    I have a question. I am going to college online for my bachelor’s in Criminal Justice right now. My husband is interested in going for CJ also but he has a felony for forgery that is 12 years old and we wanted to know if Criminal Justice was something that he could even get into. Can you be of any help because we have no clue.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      A felony conviction can be detrimental when obtaining a career in law enforcement, even when expunged. Many departments are totally against ANY felonies, some are more keen on Domestic Violence, others on DUIs, and some others look at when the crime happened (12 years ago in your husband’s case). I would get the information you seek straight from the police agency he would like to work for <– many times you can find this info on their website or a recruiting packet. They often state their position on past criminal transgressions. There is hope, but those with felonies may have to explain their behavior and will need to show progressive improvement (preferably no other criminal record) AND it won't always work. I guess the tables are most often turned against an applicant with a criminal record, but there are exceptions. Before you throw in the towel, do due diligence and turn over every rock to get the answer (visit agency website, call the recruitment office, attend an open house… whatever it takes). Good luck!

  • Jess


    I am really interested in obtaining a masters in criminal justice at SUNY Albany (I have a bachelors in an unrelated field). Eventually, I would like to work for the government as an investigator. Perhaps the FBI. I have a clean record, never defaulted on loans, don’t use drugs, and am only 23. However, I’m nervous that I won’t be hired. Is there anything I can do to improve my chances of being qualified for that particular position besides school?


  • anonymous

    hi, ive been interested in being a sniper for a while :) for the FBI
    how do i go about doing that? without joining the military.

  • anonymous

    ^^(continued) or becoming a police officer

  • Dennis Petty

    Okay, first off, I am 55 and enrolled into CTU for Criminal Justice/Health Services. My graduation date is November 2013. Any suggestions in my situation? Some sort of career in any field except the police field unless I could be some sort of detective, Latent Print Examiner, CSI Forensic Examiner, Forensic Accountant, Fraud Investigator, Insurance Investigator. No Legal or Court Careers. HELP!!!

  • James

    I am a senior in high school and will be starting my schooling next fall majoring in criminal justice. I do plan on become a police officer. My mind changes a lot, and sometimes too much. If i do follow through with criminal justice and graduate with a B.A in CJ, what are my best options if i would rather work in an office, but with still a good salary and great benefits, I am open to pretty much everything. I would also love to learn about minors that would go along with the career. Thanks

  • senait

    hey im 17yrs old & im going to bootcamp in july for the national guard. after bootcamp im going to get a BA in criminal justice. i do want to be a cop, but im not really in the best shape like at all. so are there any other jobs i could get with a degree in criminal justice ?

  • Steve

    My name is Steve and I am currently enrolled in college studying criminal justice. My question is: what kind of job can I take if I am not an American citizen, or do you know what state hire without a citizen?

  • kayla kuykendall

    i am interested in obtaining a degree in the criminal justice field and would like to know which jobs are better suited for women. i plan on being a mom and don’t want to put my life in that much danger everyday.

  • bama riley

    hi, im andrew and im 19 and from san antonio, and would like to have a career in criminal justice.. im not too sure about what to look at, i like to help people, mostly juveniles.. i like to make a difference in peoples lives, but do not want to be a cop.. i dont want to have a 9-5 same thing everyday job, something more spontaneous and out there that has weird hours.. if you have anything that may help me please let me know, im looking at all options, thanks..

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I would imagine law enforcement careers in the local, regional, state, or federal level would be your “cup of tea” — scroll all the way up to check them out.

  • Roman

    Hello I am a Criminal Justice Degree student in my community college my goal is to get a career in this field. But i was wondering how does one climb up the ladder if you are in the NYPD for instance. Do you need to arrest certain amount of people or meet certain amounts of quotas in the end of the day? There are so many choices i was wondering if there any apprentice ships as well or mentors to guide you? Because i was thinking of starting Auxiliary, then transferring to Police Cadet but still confused. I want to do something in the Court as a long term Goal. And short term goal is to obtain a any field in the criminal justice without an civil service exam.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Climbing up the ladder depends on departmental needs. In my opinion writing extraneous tickets in order to “meet a quota” or solely to increase municipal revenue should not be the first thing a new recruit needs to worry about. Protect and Serve first, then write tickets.

      I think that education and continual training in the field are probably anyone’s best bet for promotion. There are departments, even in this age, that are “political” and they promote based on who you know rather than merit. It’s a shame sometimes. Nevertheless, there are many more departments that reward merit.

      There are probably no mentors, but in all likelihood you will be partnered with a police officer who will train you.. so, not a mentor but a mentor.

  • hailey

    im majoring in criminal justice, but not sure what jobs are best for woman?? I have a interest in being a jailer/ correctional officer. any advise on what would be best for woman who major in criminal justice??

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Women participate in all facets of law enforcement and that includes corrections. I wouldn’t impede my personal growth based on stereotypical limitations. The only limitations are those that you set in your mind and then believe in. Good luck.

  • Megan

    I am a jr. in high school and I was thinking about going into Criminal Justice because I like the idea of being on my feet active and always seeing something different each day. I would love to help people but I am not sure what job is right for me. Science isn’t exactly my strongest point especially Chem. Any advice? Also, I know that some jobs require you to be a police officer for a while before you go into other fields, so what are some of the standard physical requirements police officers have to meet? Thanks!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Most police officers are not “Mad Scientists”. In fact, many don’t even have undergraduate education or only possess some / Associate’s level. There are also those that have Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD degrees. There’s no perfect program track or set of courses that will prepare you to be a police officer, but Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Criminology are vocationally as close as it gets.

      Physical requirements vary by agency. However, a common average is:

      1.5 miles in a certain number of minutes
      lift your own body weight – via pushups or weights
      go through an obstacle course

      There are more, and some of the ones listed may not be exactly what you will encounter during your test/training. Good health and weight to height ratio is a given, although some agencies have wavers.

  • steve

    Hi. My name is Steve. I am thinking of pursuing a career in criminal justice as a probation officer. When I was 18, I was convicted for a misdemeanor for statutory rape. I am not a sex offender. I have never been involved with any criminal activity besides that incident. Am I disqualified because of that one crime? If not, with an education, and some proof I have changed from that one mistake, and become a better person over time, how long after that incident before they consider that ‘the past’ ? And, I was 18 and she was 17 at the time.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I would contact the agency you have interest in applying about this particular issue. AND, even if this misdemeanor may not disqualify you from being considered, you will be questioned about the circumstances surrounding it by the hiring panel / through the interview.

      If someone knows more, please weigh in.

  • emerald

    Hi thanks for all your time answering questions.. I’m 21, female and I have a two year old daughter. This year I will obtain my bachelors in CJ, I just have no idea what to do with it. What do you suggest for a mom and someone who does not want a dangerous position? Also are there any part time careers in the CJ field? I just don’t think its responsible of me as the only care taker of my daughter to work in a dangerous field. Any suggestions? Thanks for your time!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Since Criminal Justice, as a degree program, is more vocational in nature, it may be a little hard finding jobs within the law enforcement system that are NOT inherently dangerous. I would recommend going to many of the career-open-houses different departments / state and federal agencies participate in. Bring your resume. Criminal Justice, as a degree seems to be more fitting for those who will be on the forefront of law enforcement, including managers (sergeants, for example). With an advanced degree, like a Master’s or a PhD, you have more wiggle room and can start looking at academic and private industry jobs in research, for example.

      Working with youth, being a dispatcher, or testing serology samples in Forensic Lab may be those careers that are less dangerous. For some you may qualify with a degree in CJ, while for others you may need more education and/or specialized training.

  • Jeanenne


    My name is Jeanenne and I live in New York City. I am 22 years old, majoring in Criminal Justice (CJ). I will have my bachelor’s in Criminal Justice by 2012. I would like to become an FBI agent once I get my masters and have 3 years work experience. In the mean time, I graduate in 2012 and am not sure which job I should go for, seeing as though I am going to be at entry level. I really wanted to start as a police officer, but they are not hiring at the moment, and I don’t think they will be in a years time. I would like to know your opinion on which job I should start off in? I do not have any CJ work experience.

    • Jeanenne

      Hello again Radek! I would also like to know the best schools for criminal justice graduate programs that take place on campus in the U.S. I tried searching, but all my searches contain online schools. Thank you so much!

      • Radek M. Gadek

        Did you try searching on my site? Run this search: top criminal justice schools in US.

        You should also check out the Princeton Review & US News and World Reports.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      You can try and apply to the FBI straight away. Be aware there’s going to be competition. Also, if you want to take the other route, inquire about working at other municipalities near you, Sheriff’s Office, etc. However, most agencies would be silly to invest financial and human resources into your training when you plan to leave them for the FBI a few years later. Just something to think about.

  • Mrs. Brown

    Im really thinking about becoming an Criminal Psychiatrist, I don’t know where to begin, what do i do???

  • Lawren

    Hello im currently a freshman in college majoring in criminal justice. however, as im going through all my classes i find it hard to truly figure out what i want to do. i know everyone says I have plenty of time to figure it out but I would like to have a rough idea of what would really suit me in this field. Im pretty sure i can cross police officer off the list because i wouldn’t be able to handle a gun or any of that, but i know i like to help people with their problems and like to figure out situations others may need help with. that may seem more like a psychology major but i was just curious if there was any career that is anywhere close to what i like to do?


    I have question… im attending college in the fall and majoring criminal justices but im not that good in science….but my dream has always been 2 become a homicide investigator or police officer….Will there be a job line up for me after i graduate from my 4year college.. or would i have 2 move out of state because i stay in Holly Springs, MS.

  • Melissa

    Hi! I am a college student working on an AA degree in Criminal Justice, I will be finished with it in July of 2011. Besides police work, what careers are there that I could go into after graduating? I want to find a career to start off with, because after I start a place, I will start going back to school for a Masters in CJ. Please let me know if you can help me.
    Thank you so much…

  • Natalie


    I am currently enrolled in the University of Phoenix Bachelor’s Degree Program in Criminal Justice Administration/Human Resources. I have a 3.58 GPA and have been working extremely hard to heighten my chances in obtaining a career upon graduation. However, I have read some negative feedback about the University’s credentials. After two years of developing my education with the University of Phoenix, I am beginning to doubt the decision I made to enroll for their Bachelor’s program. What are the odds of gaining employment in the Criminal Justice industry when one attends the University of Phoenix online?

  • Kimi

    Right now I am at a tech. school working on transferring to Clemson University. Right now my major is Psychology but I am thinking I would like to work in the criminal justice field. The only criminal degree that clemson has is sociology with an emphasis in Criminal Justice and a minor is legal studies. Could you please tell me what kind of jobs this would open up. Also can you get any kind of legal jobs with a psychology degree?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Can you be more specific as to what you would like to do in the criminal justice field?

  • Ian

    Hey everyone! I have a couple questions about Criminal Justice internships. I currently just transferred to Northeastern University in Boston from Rhode Island College for the C/J program. I also did 5 years in the Army as a paratrooper and want to know what kind of internships are out there. I have 2 years left in school and really want to do something fantastic!! If someone has any good ideas or knows of anything out there, please let me know! Thank you!


  • yiwen


    I am going to school soon and I am interest in Criminal Justice Major, I’m also holding a Green Card right now( so I wasn’t born in the US), but I will become a citizen by the time I graduated. — my plan is to get the Associate Degree first and get the Bachelor’s.

    Also I find that a lot of jobs in Criminal Justice career have to be a US citizen,
    so my question is, is that all the jobs has to be born in the US?
    I would like to become a Immigration officer or a career in Criminal Justice but will be deal with paperwork most of the time.
    I also don’t mind to be a police officer , but I’m not sure the difference between County Sheriff and other police officers.

    could you give me some advices please?

    Thank you so much!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Yes, most criminal justice careers require US citizenship (born or naturalized).

      The difference between Police Officer and Sheriff Deputy, for example, is that police officers usually work in cities or townships, while Deputies work within a county (a larger region). There can be many cities and towns that Deputy Sheriff Officers patrol within a county.

      Word of advice, make sure your school is regionally accredited when you do any studies in the US –> search for “accreditation” on this site for more info.

  • Rebecca

    Hi! Im seventeen and a junior in high school. Ever since i was a little girl i knew that i wanted to pursue a career in criminal justice, but i never knew what would be a good fit for me. I pay close attention to detail and love to watch/study people and other things. I love to research. Math and science are definitely NOT something im great at but i really love to read and write. ive read up on a few jobs that caught my interest like being a police officer, criminalist, and homicide detective, but i never made a firm choice. any suggestions on how i can find a good match?
    thank you! :)

  • Yessina

    I’m 20 and I’m currently going to a junior college. I love to help others and I’m stuck between nursing and criminal justice. It would mean a lot more to me to be in the criminal justice dept. when I was younger I was raped and i would be more than delighted to put the rest of these bastards away. Is there a part in criminal justice where I can help rape victims?

  • Jane

    Hi I attend Xavier university in Ohio and I am majoring in criminal justice. They don’t have forensics but they do have chemistry and other sciences. I don’t wanna be a police officer or security guard. Are there other options for me? I’m taking chemistry and general experimental psychology as requirements so are they useful? I want to work with the crime scene investigation.

  • Ahmed

    Hi, my name is, ahmed am 19 years old I am attending college this spring and am interested in criminal justice career. So far am taking criminal justice classes. My questions is would my background or my race would give me difficult time to get this career ?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Good questions and very real concerns. I may have to say, that despite some of the police departments (and other criminal justice entities) being somewhat progressive, the stigma of a certain (I’m assuming Middle Eastern) background and your religious believes may play a role in hiring; or the inability of getting hired. As with almost everything else, this is a “grey area”, and I wouldn’t conclude by saying you won’t get hired, but be ready for more scrutiny than that of a white, Catholic, Midwestern male, for example.

  • marie

    Hi, I was wondering about a career in criminal justice, I’m still not sure which one but probably something in paralegal studies for now. My “problem” is that just after i turned 18 i got caught shop lifting and the judge gave me a conditional discharge of one year, a $60 ticket and a community service day. I paid the money but didn’t do the community service, and little after I found out I had a warrant. I went to the court to solve the issue and they kept me in for a day (really a couple of hours). I’m trying to get jobs, but when the employer runs my background I guess it shows because I never get the job when they check criminal backgrounds. I didn’t think it was as serious as it is (but I obviously learned my lesson), which is pretty much why I opted for a CJ career when really what I love is financial careers, but if I’m not getting hired in Macy’s I’m thinking I’ll less likely get hired in a bank!! Whats your advice?? Will that record ever go away, is there anything I can do to kind of minimize it??

  • Matt Burton

    I have been reading all of your comments on everybody’s issues and just want to thank you for the service you are providing! :)

    Anyways, I am 18 years old and am about to graduate High School in a month. The college I am attending offers being a Physical Therapist Assistant and a career in Criminal Justice. I know they are both completely different but I feel like I could choose either or, but need some guidance. Being a P.T.A., I know I would have good job security but do not know if i would enjoy working with the elderly all the time. Going into Criminal Justice gives me the feeling that I make a difference in the world, that I would have that proud feeling to be recognized as a respected individual. The only downfall in this career is the danger factor. Salary is not a factor in this decision because they are about the same. I have studied information about both of these fields, but feel different about every day on which one to choose. I know I enclosed alot of information about both of these options and any information provided is helpful :)

    Thank you

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Matt, I think choosing the right college major / career path is truly hard. I am sure that majority of people who “know” what they want to do in life (straight out of high school) keep stumbling into other things that they may want to do.

      If you can, for as long as you can, try to take general classes that you must take in order to graduate (Math, English, Humanities, and etc.) — if the decision is that hard to make, try to go as “an undecided major”; some schools allow that, while others may be less bending on this issue. Perhaps a little time in college will give you what you need to make the “right decision”. Good luck.

  • Veronica


    I’m 47 years old and working of my BA degree in social and criminal justice from Ashford University. I wanted to work in the field of forensic but it appears that I would have to enroll in another school for the education. Criminal justice has always been an exciting field for me but it seems that I have waited to late for a nice career. Do you have any suggestions, taking my age into account, of a career that would be exciting in social and criminal justice?

  • Elisabeth


    So I have been looking into being a teacher, but as everyone knows that career path doesn’t pay well enough for a family. I am going into my second year of college and I have been looking into getting my Pre Law Criminal Justice degree, but I would still want to help out children that are less fortunate, what jobs would you suggest for me?

    Thanks for your time!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Pre Law and Criminal Justice are two very different degree programs, which one are you taking? Or, are you majoring in one and minoring in another?

  • cara

    I’m looking for a job in criminal justice that doesn’t require too many years in college. Yes, I know there are years involved, but there are some careers that I’m interested in, but are just too hard to achieve. For example, I was interested in becoming a criminologist, because I’m interested in the mental and emotional aspects of hunting down criminals. But the thing is, it’s required to have a Ph.d in order to even be accepted into that type of job. Is there any job similar to this that doesn’t require so much time? Also, keep in mind that I don’t want to be in a career that is focused on sciences (chemistry, etc.), because that’s not what I’m good at, and I want to do something where I can make a difference. Law enforcement and detective work requires a lot of “not at home time” and I don’t want to be in that situation. I know there isn’t ever a perfect job, but do you have any suggestions based on what I’ve told you? Thanks a lot :)

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Support staff, where a degree in CJ would not be needed, but a knowledge of computers and word-processing software would be. Dispatcher would be another one. Court clerk. There might be a few more that are on the tip of my tongue, but in essence they are in the support capacity rather than law enforcement capacity. Other than that, many of the careers require different and unpredictable hours.

  • Dominic

    Currently holding a first semester senior standing. Come May of 2012 I will graduate with a bachelors degree in social science with a minor in law/legal study. Since my sophomore year I have been debating career paths. The choices include Law School, a graduate degree in either social science, or criminal justice, or playing the job market with “soon to be” current degree and shooting for higher education later on. Any suggestions on what I should consider?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      All seem like great choices. I had the same dilemma when I graduated with my Bachelor’s. I chose to a Master’s in Criminal Justice, but Law School was / and still is something I would like to tackle. Your aspirations may be different, so make sure to take your time in deciding — don’t rush; trust me on this!

  • Michelle

    Hello, I am a jr in high school and I am staring to think of a career that best suits me. I tend to draw interests in Criminal Justice. However, I do not know what specifically I want to do. I would like to put the pieces together of a murder, missing person’s case, serial killer etc. I want to be able to interview people and help “solve the case”. On the other hand I am also interested in Crime Scene Investigation or Forensic Science. My mind is kind of all over the place and I am now confusing myself. I am looking for a career that does not involve becoming a police officer before entering the career i am interested in. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank You.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      What you’re saying is that you would like to be a detective who has forensic credentials. It’s pretty common in medium and large sized departments. As always, you must become a police officer first before becoming a detective. Go through the probationary period and have the opportunity to take the “detective’s exam / test” (most of the time the exam is required). So, there’s no easy way of going around this. Otherwise, if you don’t want to become a police officer, you might have to choose to work in forensics only.

  • Carmen

    Hello Radek,

    I have enjoyed reading your blogs. I must say that this has been the most beneficial site in helping me with a career choice thus far! I graduated from college with a BS in Psychology minored in Criminal Justice. My plan was to go to graduate school for Forensic Psychology. I took one course, aced it, but decided that wasn’t exactly what I wanted to study. I have spent an entire year out of school trying to make the best decision in what I should study. I agree with your previous comment about taking time to decide on what to study in graduate school if you are a little unsure. I am still currently weaving out my choices on my plan of study, but am looking to hopefully enroll by spring time. I currently have been doing little part-time jobs and volunteer work to help with this decision. If you have any suggestions on what you think I should study, by all means, feel free to share. I will definitely be saving this site as a favorite!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Thanks Carmen! I’m doing my best here, but despite that, it’s hard for me to tell you “what I think you should study.” It wasn’t after I graduated with my Bachelor’s that I started seeing that maybe there are other academic venues that might interest me. I always base my decision on how it will affect my life; especially how enjoyable my career will be. To be honest, I don’t feel satisfied just yet. I guess I’m a life learner and I’ll never be fully satisfied, but that’s just me. Take your time and weight your options / factors with goals and future feelings in mind.

  • Clara

    Hi! I want to say thanks so much for your site its a real help! I do have a couple questions for you though. :]
    im starting college this fall, i’ve already decided i want to go into the criminal justice field but its so broad that im really swimming in options. (e.g. all the options you gave on your page) I am fascinated with criminal psychology but i don’t want to be stuck in court room or being a psychiatrist for prisoners…I want to be involved and solve cases. is there such a job that mixes say, detective work and criminal psychology?
    I plan on going to University of California Irvine since its been ranked very high for its criminology program but from what I understand criminology is mainly an academic position…is this true? And if so is it still worth going to UCI or will other universities who have criminal justice programs work just as well? Thanks!

    • Radek M. Gadek


      Good questions. As a detective or an investigator you will use nuances or big parts of criminal psychology — it will become more intuitive rather than methodical.

      Criminology is not only used in academia. It’s commonly used in direct law enforcement matters on all levels that deal with criminals.

      UC Irvine is a great school, but for most detective and investigative positions a 4-year degree from a properly accredited college or university is more than sufficient. I like to point out that quality schools and education should be at the forefront of everyone’s academic track (no matter how poor their grades were previously), as where you went to school still matters. Also, for the future, I am all for more education, but if you need to start a career now, in order to earn money, then I would consider any advanced degrees while on the job — there are many great online options.

  • Kathleen Wallace

    My son recently graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, but has found out that he is unable to pass the color vision portion of the physical exam. What careers are available to him at this point?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      For the most part, non law enforcement positions. The degree itself is more career focused and would need to be supplemented by grad school to use it in other parts of the Criminal Justice system — not always, but very often applicable. He has to evaluate what his interests are — if he can’t be a police officer, who does he want to become? Would his ideals shift or remain the same?

      I listed some careers here, and they represent the bulk of what’s available.

  • John Hardin

    Hello! I recently graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies. My concentrations were psychology, criminal justice, and social work. I have been accepted to the University of Cincinnati’s online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program. I have no experience in the field of criminal justice and have no desire to work in any applied criminal justice field. After completing my master’s program, I plan to pursue a PhD in Criminal Justice and teach at the post-secondary level. Will a lack of hands-on experience in the field deter me from gaining acceptance into a criminal justice doctorate program? Additionally, if I am able to gain acceptance and complete my PhD, will a lack of work experience in criminal justice make it difficult to find research and teaching positions?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      The lack of work experience may be a deterrent, but I think only if you don’t plan on doing anything else but teach in college. Besides teaching, there must be something you would like to do in the Criminal Justice field. Otherwise, you’re just a theorist. Being involved in criminal justice research on top of professorship will be very helpful. While in grad school, or even before, you should start inquiring on where you can find research positions/internships and TA opportunities. You’ll have plenty of opportunities for research when embarking on your PhD. At this time, I highly recommend on-campus PhD programs at great colleges and universities, as opposed to going online.

  • Nishawn

    I recently graduated with a masters degree in Homeland Security but have been working within the mental health field for about 5-6 years. I have always been interested in criminal justice and would love to pursue a career in administrative work such as quality assurance, auditing, criminal research etc. I have the knowledge and the administrative skills it takes to hold such a career but am having a tremendous troubles in landing interviews in such a field. Can anyone help, give me any kind of advise that could make my search more successful?


  • Stephanie

    Hey Radek,

    I am 19 years old and just graduated with my AA in Elementary Education. I also have experience in nursing and hope to pursue that again one day, but due to medical issues I’m putting it on hold. I start my Bachelor’s this fall and I was looking through the list of minors available when Criminal Justice caught my eye. My question is: Are there any jobs available to someone with just a minor in Criminal Justice? Or am I just wasting my time and better off pursuing something like accounting? I constantly have to keep my mind entertained and busy. I like to learn everything possible, which is the main reason I’m searching other areas for a minor. Plus, there’s never anything wrong with having knowledge and experience in multiple areas, but I also don’t want to waste time or tuition fees on something that will never benefit me.

    Thanks so much!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I think that a criminal justice degree or a minor is most beneficial to those that work or want to work in the criminal justice system. It is a “discriminating” degree, unlike business that is much broader in it’s potential career reach. So, yes, you can minor in CJ, but you will most likely benefit from other degree options. To be honest, many people would benefit from taking business, accounting, or finance vs a criminal justice degree. Many law enforcement agencies and other criminal justice establishments look for law enforcement personnel and support staff that can bring something to the table from different walks of life.

      • Albertine

        I’m 23years old and I’ve always been interested in the criminal justice force but i’m interested in a two year program before I decide to go all the way with it. My question is how far in the force can a two year degree get me?

        • Radek M. Gadek

          If by “force” you mean a police force, then an associate’s degree – or college credit equivalent – is just about what many of the 50 states want from entry level law enforcement officers. Many municipalities and counties allow high school grads to enter, but more and more states want you to have that Associate’s degree, or as I said, its equivalent 60 semester credits or 90 quarterly credits. Larger municipalities and even some states, including most Federal law enforcement agencies, require a Bachelor’s degree at entry.

          Given that many of your peers may have at least some college under their belt, and that education is certainly a factor in promotion (in mid to larger departments), I would say going as far as a detective at a small to mid agency is feasible, with passing the detective’s exam. Supervisory positions may also be possible. Still, this is hypothetical as many other factors, other than your education, will play a role in how far you go in your criminal justice career.

  • Tim

    Radek, thank you for this very informative thread…my post could also be a little more challenging in the sense of just reading and looking over it within just seconds…

    I’m looking to get into and have always been interested in law enforcement. As a kid, I wanted to be a patrol officer. As a teenager I wanted to join the Army then become an investigator, local or FBI. Now being in my mid 30’s I’ve looked back and realized I made bad career choices and mistakes that have taking me down the wrong road, I’m just not where I want to be or need to be. I have no DUI’s, domestic violence, drug convictions, or any record of criminal activity convictions…I’m clean, except for a couple of speeding tickets.

    My situation involves being around the wrong crowds. I’ve been around people using, abusing, and selling illegal drugs. I will say I have tried marijuana, cocaine, crystal meth, and acid. Now, before judgement flows, I will say that I was never addicted or a user…just experimented a couple times at an early age and knew it wasn’t for me and moved on. I’ve seen things most people haven’t and never would. I have not done or been around those substances or people I was around, for years. In my mid twenties I got my CDL to better myself and future, but it wasn’t a good fit…but It did get my away from the area and people that I wanted to be away from. I seen some of them destroy their lives and families… and some did so and corrected their lives.

    I believe my honesty should go a long way with the selection process. I just know that law enforcement of some matter is for me with my attitude and mindset. I may not have a phd., but my mind and way of thinking has always kept me at bay from making choices that would destroy my future, although some have slowed and hindered my future for a short time …I’ve just made a couple of bad choices in my opinion with those small matters. I have also helped friends with certain issues that helped keep them from making a serious mistake.

    I’m honest (as you can tell), but would like some info on my chances of getting a degree in Criminal justice at my age…with some of my experimental experiences (very, very mild, in my opinion), and having a fulfilling career in either Investigation or CSI. I know I can and will be very helping in this line of work…especially being good with people and understanding the mindset of other certain people involved in criminal activities (past)…just by being around them, watching, and listening to their personalities. I’m very analytical and aware, which makes people who try to work me over to get mad at my answers and words giving. How would the agencies look at my past and what would be my options?

    Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you, Mr. Gadek.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Short and sweet…
      Given your circumstances, your stated intent and other character enhancements, many LE agencies may consider you to be an asset. However sweet this sounds, don’t forget you’ll most likely be drilled in your panel interviews about your past.

      Your options should not be much different than those of other applicants. Your start at the bottom and work your way up. Education and experience should help you after your probationary period. Then, you can start looking into investigative work and other positions. Please read my article about college education and police work.

      I wish you all the best.

  • Christopher Bello

    Hi, i just stumbled on this site and as i plan to seek a degree in criminal justice, i find it a gold mine. my question is this i wasn’t born in America but i have married an America and i have resident status, does this deter from getting a job in law enforcement? and if yes what careers options available to me?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Yes it does. You’ll need to become a (naturalized) US citizen. There used to be a 5-year waiting period before you can apply for citizenship from the time you obtained your green card, but I’m not sure of the waiting period now. Your career options would be in non-law-enforcement capacity (ie. police officer, Sheriff’s deputy, state patrol, FBI, DEA, and so on). If you’re not planning on working as a law enforcement officer, then you might be better of with a degree in business, computer science, or any broader (but well fitting) degree as opposed to criminal justice. I think that a criminal justice degree best suits those who work / plan to work directly in law enforcement or those seeking careers in closely related positions.

  • Shanna

    I just changed my Major from Business Accounting & Technology to Criminal Justice so seeing these jobs I’m so hoping it’s worth it……

  • Bryan

    I received a bachelors and a masters in criminal justice in the mid-90’s from Indiana University. I ended up getting into the IT field and have worked there for the last 10+ years. Recently I’ve been contemplating a career change. What type of position can someone who has a degree in criminal justice, but has been out of the field for many years expect to find?

  • Adrianne

    I’m going into my senior year of college. I’m majoring in psychology, concentrating on forensics. I’ve done multiple internships including a police station and probation office. I’m wondering what my options are in the Federal law enforcement and law enforcement categories. Also, does being a female limit be, as many of the stereotypes suggest? Thank you!

    • Radek M. Gadek

      I think that you, as a female, have all the doors open in federal law enforcement. Agencies are looking for diversity and new talent to add to the bunch. Forget the stereotypes, but be aware that training and the job can be physically and psychologically grueling for ANYONE.

  • Stacy O

    Well I’d first like to start by saying that this site is awesome! You’ve really done a great job with maintaining it and keeping it current. I am extremely impressed.

    I have recently become interested in the Criminal Justice path. I am a Junior in college though, and am a ways into my current majors courses. Right now I am a Business Marketing major. I was wondering if it would be too late to get involved in the Criminal Justice field. Would I perhaps still be as competitive with a Bachelors in Business and perhaps a masters in a more common Criminal Justice field? I’ve always been interested in the criminal/investigative parts.

    Thank you for your time. I really appreciate it!

    • Radek M. Gadek


      Thanks for the warm words.

      I think that a Business degree is a great degree to bring to the table in the criminal justice field. If you enjoy it, I would continue, as you will have more choices IMO. I think that criminal justice degrees are great for those that KNOW they’ll work in law enforcement and the criminal justice field, otherwise I don’t really see a point of taking one.

      You can always take your Master’s in something you truly enjoy, like Criminal Justice or Criminology. I did, and I can’t complain.

  • Jordan

    hey i have asked in several spots but my question is pretty broad. I was wondering since im getting my Bachelors degree soon what type of job would be good for me? I dont necessarily want to travel every 3 years or so… im just asking if you have any suggestions for me that can help thanks. Dont really have a specific field in mind so im open to anything

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Local law enforcement agencies (Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and State Police come to mind). Also, the jail or prison system can work if you don’t want to be moved around. Courts, research universities, and non-profit organizations that help victims or counsel minors can be great, too. However, certain positions in the criminal justice field don’t necessarily require or even want criminal justice grads, but rather focus on Computer/Information Technology, Psychology, Social Work, and Accounting, to name a few.

      • Jordan

        Thanks for the reply just wondering if there any federal jobs that don’t really require you to move i understand moving to your first destination. Do i have to move after that or is that like a permanent duty station like the armed forces.

        • Radek M. Gadek

          Most that I can remember require travel as a condition of obtaining employment, usually based on the needs of the particular agency. I know there may be agencies that will require you to travel non-stop, some that will have a bigger travel component, while others that may require you to go somewhere once in a while — all this is dependent where you work, where you get stationed, and what your skills and role within the organization is. Most federal law enforcement agencies have conditions of employment available to the public on their respective websites

  • Stephanie

    My name is stephanie and i am currently in my last yr in college and will be receiving my bachelors in criminal justice. im not sure, but i feel i made a error when i was younger and i didn’t take any minors with my degree. i have been an intern at the county jail but besides that, i have no experience under my belt. i want a career that offers a 9-5 job because i am a single mother raising a 5 yr old. i loved communicating with the inmates and assisting them. i like learning to law and the process of a trail. i would like to help inmates move on with their lives or work in a courthouse. i hope to receive my masters, but too be honest, im probably doing that because i still dont know what to do with my degree so ill just continue with my education. i have an indulgence with criminology and i love hearing people speak about why they got arrested and how their case was treated differently from others.i hope u can help me and thank you for your time

  • Shay

    Hi, I’m 39 years old and I am interested in a career that would involve investigating child predators on the internet. I don’t notice that as a career on your site. Am I too old to start this career and if not what area would I study in? Thanks for your time.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      There’s no one title for this career. Law enforcement agents are trained in-house / via seminars on how to find, “reel-in” and ultimately catch such offenders. There are usually separate departments, like a “Cyber Crime Unit”. It helps having a technical background, like Computer Science, IT, or something similar, but given the ease of use of online chat software, I think anyone with a little tech know-how can get online to chat and use their training to catch perpetrators. As for age, you seem to be past the mid 30’s age max imposed on law enforcement positions. There’s a possibility that civilian employees can work in such units, but I personally know of only law enforcement personnel taking over such duties.

  • Mai

    can you obtain a Federal Law Enforcement Careers while majoring in Law? I tend to find Law School a bit more interesting but then again i would like to work with the Federal.

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Most definitely. Law school grads are some of the most desirable candidates.

      • Mai

        Then Law School I shall go! Thanks.

      • Mai

        Oh, but which would you recommend Law School or Criminal Justice for a Federal Law Enforcement Careers?

        • Radek M. Gadek

          Both degree choices are good, but remember that a Law degree is a terminal degree (like a PhD) and it is also a graduate degree. So if you plan on taking Criminal Justice, it would have to be at least on a Master’s level to start being compared to a Law degree. Both degrees are immensely different and different agencies prefer or imply different preferences. For example, the DEA prefers criminal justice grads (they actually say it out-right), but the FBI implies a preference of law school grads on their website. Choose wisely and make sure you have great marks in your undergraduate years, especially if you want to go to Law School or further graduate study. Good luck!

  • Radek M. Gadek

    Hey everyone,

    This comment thread is getting a little too long…

    Just wanted to let you know that when asking criminal justice career specific questions on Police, FBI, CSI, and Attorney careers (for example), please post those questions on the pages that talk about the subject matter, not here.

    If you posted here, and don’t see your post approved, that’s probably the first reason it doesn’t make it into the comments section. Usually, the other reason is that it may take me up to a week to respond. I’m inundated with comments… hence, this appeal.

    Also, please read the article and skim through the comments before asking questions. Half the time, the answers are in those sections. I don’t post questions that have already been answered. And, one last thing, take advantage of the search feature (currently in the right sidebar) to look for topics, questions and answers, and other articles you might enjoy.


    P.S. As you may know, it takes a whole lot of time to keep the blog going. Please help me keep it going longer by letting others know about it and sharing the pages you like most <-- you've got the Facebook and Twitter buttons to do the clicking.

  • Laura

    Hi! I have already acquired bachelor’s degrees in both psychology and criminal justice/criminology, and I don’t know where to go from here. I have applied to multiple government jobs with no success. I know that I don’t want to be involved with the corrections department and I do not want any job that requires a firearm! So what am I to do? All I have managed to acquire are years and years of customer service/entertainment/sales experience and two awesome degrees. Where do I go from here?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Ahh! Right now there seems to be a dry spell in many parts of the country as hiring freezes are common. On top of that, scratching off correctional careers in jails, prisons, parole, and counseling and not wanting to carry a firearm – thus not working directly in law enforcement – you’re bound to extend that dry spell exponentially. Social work, support staff at a law enforcement agency, research work (might need to go for a Master’s in many cases) are some ideas. The good thing is that you have a Psychology degree on top of the Criminal Justice one. The bad thing, many desirable psychology professions can only be attained with a minimum of a Master’s degree, if not a Psy.D.

  • Deborah

    Hello, I have just completed my bachelor degree in Criminal Justice/ Organization Security Management. I am worried because my credit is not the greatest. I have one collection (that i did not realize and just paid), was recently late on my mortgage for four months (but I am now caught up), and I have credit debt that is maxed out (but I have never been late on a payment). I am starting to clean up my credit but is my future in criminal justice ruined? Also will my spouses credit affect me? Any information you can give is appreciated.

  • SteveBros

    Hey Radek

    Here in CT theirs no age limit to become a police officer or firefighter. I was surprised to learn that a lot of other states, such as Florida, Rhode Island, California with the exception of The California Highway Patrol has no maximum age limit in hiring police officers in cities such as LA and San Francisco. I’m 47 and will be getting my bachelors in Criminal Justice soon. If I’m hired at 47 or 50, I’ll have 20+ years to put in. Am I occupying a spot of a 21, 30, or 40 year old can have and can put in the 20+ years. I hope to retire at 70, If I can keep myself in shape like Jack La Lane. What do you think. Am I too old

    Steve Bros

    • Radek M. Gadek

      SteveBros, thanks for the info. I am aware of some of the places having no age limits, but be aware that it doesn’t mean your chances of getting hired are the same as those of a 20-something or 30-something year old applicant. A lot of factors go into hiring a law enforcement officer. Therefore, hopefully your education, life and work experiences, along with great physical health and moral fiber can boost your chances a bit. As for being too old… 47 is the new 37 :-)

  • candy

    I will be graduating in 2013 with my Bachelors in Criminal Justice and Minor in Digital Forensics. I want to then continue with my Masters in Computer Science. Do you think that IT Security is somewhere I can go with these degrees?

    • Radek M. Gadek

      Heck yea! IT Security / Computer Science is a growing field. And, in the realm of criminal justice, it’s desirable to VERY desirable degree (depending on needs of a specific employer).

  • Portia

    I have received my Masters and Bachelors degree in criminal justice (at the age of 23), and I am currently having a hard time trying to find employment in the criminal field. I have applied to numerous of jobs, some of them tell me that I do not have any experience, that is why there not able to hire me, others say, I am over qualified. I am in desperate need for help. What steps should I take to at least get my foot in the door? If you have any suggestions or comments please fill free to intervene, thanks.

  • Tiffany

    I’m very interested in the criminal justice field, however not to be a police officer. I’m more interested in the administrative end, say working in correctional facilities, jails, etc. in more of Social Work kind of way I guess…do you think a degree in Criminal Justice is worth it for me? I found a Criminal Justice Administration in Human Services degree. Is that worth it? I guess I just don’t know where to research or how to get into what I’m looking to do.

  • Tawny B


    I am a high school student trying to figure out which career choice would be best for me. I really want to pursue a career in criminal justice but I’m not sure on which field and the requirements in takes for those careers. I am really into the whole detective aspect but I believe I want to do more than just a detective. I really enjoy putting “puzzles” together such as a crime scene or such but I have also looked into the ideas of prosecutor or FBI/CIA agent. Furthermore, what are the requirements for each? and which do you best recommending?

    Thank you.

  • diana

    I am 29 years old and wanted to go back to school for my bachelor’s in criminal justice. I was thinking about working in forensics or becoming a parole/probation officer or a substance abuse counselor. However, I got into some trouble when I was younger. I have a juvenile record and a misdemeanor for assault and battery when I was 20. I haven’t been into any trouble since then. As soon as I found out I was pregnant and had my daughter at 21 I changed my ways. Will I still be able to get a job in the criminal justice field or should I think about another profession?? I would be so disappointed to find out I went to school and can’t even get a job due to my stupidity when I was younger…thanks!

  • CJ grad

    I got my B.A. in Criminal Justice (GPA above 3.8) and am interested in becoming a Fraud Investigator. I have read that having a fraud-investigation certificate is necessary, but i am not sure if a masters degree is necessary to break into the field. What would your advice be, in terms of what is a good next step to take? ( I do not have work experience yet)

    • Radek Gadek

      The Fraud-Investigation Certificate may be dependent on the region you want to work at. Have you considered just starting out with your BA in CJ?

  • McDaniel

    I want to pursue a career in criminal justice maybe as a cop but i smoke weed alot, and occasionally hallucinogens, im doing just fine in school but what jobs would be best for me to be able to work around and make enough money? Would i have to quit for a handful of years and then get the job then i can start again? I’ve also sold a little bit before if that matters.

    • Radek Gadek

      LOL – if you’re not joking, then I guess I can answer this one: this is probably not the career track for you. You have to disclose ALL your prior and present drug use, as well as submit to drug screenings. But, still a good question. You don’t know how many people really want to know.

  • Mary Kate

    I am about to start my sophomore year at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC, but I’m confused about what I really want to do. CJ always interested me, and so does English, which I excel in. Is there any job that could combine the two? I am thinking about law school, but then again, since I am paying for all my expenses on my own, it seems like an out of reach dream.

    • Radek Gadek

      Law school sounds great when you have command of the English language. But, some law school grads are hitting the proverbial bottom in our 2012 economy. Who knows how three years can change the economical growth. If I had the moolah, a sharp mind and the will to obtain a Law degree, I would in a heartbeat (but, that’s just me). Still, given the reputation of John Jay, you should perhaps look into career prospects that specific diploma may grant you. By the time I was a sophomore in college I changed my major three times. So, by default, anything preceding this last sentence may be contributing to you being even more indecisive. Ummm. Good luck.

  • Haque


    I have bachelor degree in social work from Bangladesh, Master of Law from Japan, and MA in Intl Business from UK. Worked for the government for more than 8 years where initial two years worked for both executive and lower criminal judiciary as a Magistrate. My age is running 39 now. Being a permanent resident, I moved to USA and trying to get fit in with the new environment. Considering my background and age, I wonder if I should go for Paralegal, Law or Criminal Justice program. All of this three are interested to me. I would like to work in the state or federal government in future, I mean after finishing my required degree. Would you please give me
    proper guidance what should I do, which career should I choose, and for that what type of degree in which level should I take-considering my age?

    Thanks very much for your support. You can also reply through my mail.


  • Andrew S

    I am currently a student at Northern Michigan University and going for a Bachelors degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Biology. I have thought of becoming a police officer, but I have also been looking at other options. My question is whether or not I would need additional certificates or schooling after getting my 4 year degree for other jobs in the criminal justice category? I was also wondering if my minor in Biology would help out with any jobs in this field.

    • Radek Gadek

      In most cases, your Bachelor’s degree should be sufficient for the police officer career track, and most other local and regional law enforcement opportunities.

  • Kay

    I am enrolled in Indiana University East for Criminal Justice in the fall of 2012 and will graduate in 2016 with a bachelors degree in Criminal Justice. I want a job in Criminal Justice because I want to help people. The only problem is I can’t decide what i want to do. I was thinking of getting my background in Criminal Justice first and then becoming a lawyer but I also want to be a CSI. What do you suggest I do to pursue this?

  • Andrea S

    I recently graduated from my community college with an associates in liberal arts humanities and social sciences. I truly want to become a social worker, however Albany U denied me of that major. The other college in my area, does not offer social work, however, they offer criminal justice. I am also interested in working with troubled children in the court system. Would criminal justice be the right path for me to go down?
    Thank you very much!

    • Radek Gadek

      Probably not. Social work related degrees would be more suitable. Have you considered going online?

  • hannah

    I’m currently a high school student, and i have started looking into possible career options. I’m really drawn to the criminal justice field. however, I’ve had difficulty finding a career that will reach what i want due to my varying interests. I do have a strong interest in forensic science, and in criminal psychology, but i also want a position where i can track and catch criminals, especially in homicide cases. As i said i would like to work with homicides and serial killers. In all of my job research i have yet to find a career in which i can do forensics and physical tracking and interviewing of suspects and little information is given about the part a criminologist or criminal psychologist plays in catching a criminal. If there’s a career that meets or is close to this then i would very much want to do more research into it. thank you for any help or tip you can give me

  • Spencer

    I will be a university sophomore this year and have just changed my major to CJ. I intend to minor in business administration. My concern is my GPA. I did not do very well as a freshman and my GPA is kinda low. I am working on doing better. How much does a graduating GPA play in finding a CJ job? Obviously, the higher my GPA the better, but is there a certain number I should definitely aim for?

    • Radek Gadek

      Good questions. A high GPA can mean a difference when it comes to getting hired. In Federal workforce, a high GPA is a big thing, among other equally/more important factors. Still, in the current economic state, there might be some stiff competition and GPA may matter more than before due to the increased number of potential applicants in some regions. I would aim for 3.0 or higher for sure. Ask your counselor or department dean if you can re-take courses that you messed up on as many schools will often take the higher grade and average it with the GPA — dropping the numerical value associated with the previous, low grade — caveat emptor: the grade will probably stay on your transcript (next to the new shiny “A”). MAKE SURE TO ASK FOR DETAILS ON HOW THIS WOULD WORK, IF AT ALL. Hope this helps.

  • mark

    Do not go for criminal justice. Wait until you have a job then go to school for it if you are looking for law enforcement as you do not need the degree to find a job something I wish I would have known before going for the degree.

  • Gustavo

    Hey i had a question i am interested in a career in corrections, i originally wanted 1 in law enforcement but as a teen i was into drugs mostly ecstasy and i experimented a little with crystal iv been clean for almost a year now i am 19 years old, my question is would my past drug use affect my chances in a career in either corrections or law enforcement? Thank you

    • Radek Gadek

      It may – let’s just say WILL – be brought up, but unless you’re planning to stay clean and not applying for a few years, you should be fine. Don’t lie on your application, as many times that gets revealed during your background check. Be aware that some agencies are more forgiving than others. Keep in mind that many people have some sort of prior experience with drugs and they do aspire to work in the criminal justice system and actually obtain employment.

  • Rachel

    Hi! I am going to be a junior in high school this year and I want to go into criminal justice. I’m not sure which field I would be best at. I am taking a forensics course next year, I am protective, I get 90’s grade wise, I’m taking German, but I have never handled a gun. Also, I am a runner (currently recovering from injury). Any suggestions on which field I should go into? I really want to be a small town cop and then work my way up to the FBI. But should I just give up?

  • Michael


    I am a 28 year old who is about to change career paths and direct my life towards either Criminal Justice or Forensic Science. I love both fields and have always loved Science so i frequently struggle with which field i rather go in to. I have not completed any type of college, just a few courses here and there. I will be starting this Fall at my local community college to work towards obtaining a degree in one of the two fields. I do however, have over 12 years of extensive work experience, just not in anything Criminal Justice related. I guess my questions are 1) Is it too late at 28 to not only get a degree in either Criminal Justice or Forensic Science and still start a career? 2) I have very bad credit history with collection and charge off accounts but nothing serious like bankruptcies or court judgements. I have paid off all my bad accounts and am working on restoring my credit but that takes a while. Which of the two careers would i have a better shot at attaining with my spotty credit history since i know that is a major red flag in trying to get a law enforcement job? 3) Should i stay at my current job that i have been at for 5 years or try to get a job related to Criminal Justice. I think i know the answer to that question but thought i would ask anyway. Thanks for all your help.

    • Radek Gadek

      1. No, it’s not too late. Mid-thirties may be, so don’t wait too long.
      2. Bad credit is an issue that can be overcome through corrective action and time. I wouldn’t worry about that. Most items stay on your credit record for around seven years.
      3. I don’t know what you do now, but if you truly have a desire to work in the criminal justice system it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look around (maybe a paid internship?).

      Good luck!

  • Destinee Bolton

    I will be attending Lamar University in the fall of this year and I wanted to major in Criminal Justice I wanted to be a Defense Attorney but my Adviser told me that I should consider my major in Pre law because Criminal Justice is more of a Forensic Science more than Law. I really want to do something in the Criminal field but I dislike Science and I don’t believe that I will be able to handle seeing dead bodies, even though I love watching First 48 and Criminal Minds. I’m a bit confused now on what should I do. Have any ideas or suggestions ?

    • Radek Gadek

      Firstly, Criminal Justice IS NOT “more of a Forensic Science.” They are related, but very different fields — just like Law is not like Criminal Justice. Now that we have that out of the way, Pre-law is a good option, but not the only one I would consider. I know how hard it can be to decide what you want to do. It takes time and a lot of thought.

      BTW, I have several articles on the blog pertaining to law school, so please run a search on my site. You can find out what other majors may be more desirable; maybe even something you really like. I wish you all the best.

  • Terri

    My son just graduated from college with a four year degree in criminal justice, minor in sociology. He had some trouble in high school, two months out of his junior year in high school decided to try marijuana and prescription drugs, got caught, did his punishment and was under 18. It was expunged, and he was told this would not hurt him in the future. He has had several interviews, one being with the State police and it always comes up, have you ever done drugs? He tells the truth and we think this is hurting his chances, what is your thought process, he is getting frustrated and wants to go other directions with career choice. This did happen before he was 18 and has kept clean ever since then. No records at all! He is a really great young man, 22 now!

    Thank for your help! Frustrated Mother

    • Radek Gadek

      I see. I would love to say that this won’t follow him, but I would be lying. The fact that it was several years ago, and that he was a minor, is a good thing. Unfortunately, he’ll have to disclose this during initial and panel interviews. Still, I don’t think this reason alone was the contributor to the failed attempts (but it just may have been).

      Often, it’s much more than past drug use that is being considered. First and foremost, the number of recruits needed. Did your son’s values align with the agency’s values? Historically, was the organization tough on applicants with prior drug history? Was he wearing a red tie? What school did he graduate from? How well did he articulate his thoughts? Was he avoiding eye contact / too much eye contact? Does he have prior experience? Did he hit the right points when answering questions? How’s his credit: good, bad, new? and on and on and on…

      As you can see there are many variables for which he can’t account (most I haven’t listed because there are just too many). He can just be as prepared as he can be and he should keep on trying. The economy has gone haywire, police departments are not as keen on hiring, and when they do, they hire fewer recruits. Many have been faced with deep cuts, and if they would hire someone, it would be those officers who were laid off. That’s the reality of things “right now.” Have him keep on applying, trying, and at times, wait patiently. Some departments literately take years to take on new recruits. In the interim, look into work for local, county, and federal agencies (besides State). I know it’s tough right now and I wish you and your son all the best.

  • Bear

    This is my first time to your website. I have my Associate’s Degree in Criminal Investigations and will have my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice in October or 2012. I also have my Private Investigator’s Certificate but have not taken the test for my state lisc. yet. My main problem is my age as I am going to be 48yrs old this year and I am noticing the cut off age is in the 30’s. Is there any agency’s that you might be able to recommend for me to apply to, once I am done with my current degree. I really do not want my years of schooling to go to waste. I would like to be able to work with the youth and make a difference in their life.

    Thank You


  • Char

    Hi, I am recent Criminal Justice grad from San Francisco State University and am now seeking employment in the Los Angeles area. I am currently taking LSAT courses and keeping my law school dream alive but I’ve already taken it twice and didn’t do well enough so this is my last chance. I wanted to ask for advice on where and how to start looking for jobs in the field. Is it as simple as googling “Criminal Justice Jobs” and going from there or would it be better to go to the CIA and FBI website for example, and apply directly. I am looking for Federal Law enforcement jobs and jobs in the legal courts. I’m also open to internships, paid or not, just to get experience in the fields. Any advice you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Radek Gadek

      It’s certainly better to go to the agency website directly. USAJOBS – a government job search engine is also a great place. Don’t be shy to look at your local, county, state and other regional agencies. Websites are the best in most cases, but if you’re ever not sure, pick up the phone and reach out to the agency in question… you have nothing to lose.

  • Tracie

    Hi, several years ago I received a felony and a couple of misdemeanors. I have worked very hard to change my life, and I wanted a career where I could help others who possibly walked in my shoes. I have received a pardon and earned a bachelor’s in Criminal Justice. I would like to know if it is possible for me to obtain a job with my background?

  • Heather

    Hi, I am attending college right now and I am a sophomore in the Criminal Justice program, and I recently added forensic science as my minor. Was that a good idea or do you think it was pointless? Thanks

    • Radek Gadek

      I think that was certainly a good idea, especially when you have genuine interest in Forensics.

  • Derrick

    Hi there, I wanted to know can I work for the FBI if I have Diabetes but I don’t need to take insulin just a pill? My dream is to work for the FBI one day and I don’t want to get rejected because of it.

  • Bianca

    Hi! I’m a Senior at Georgia State University majoring in Political Science. I chose this degree because it’s very versatile and could lead to careers in different fields, as opposed to a Criminal Justice Degree being limited to just that field. I am interested in the law and criminal areas. I was thinking about becoming a Paralegal, but then again, I want to work in the Police/Court environment. I don’t want to become a Police officer and a lot of those jobs require that you be an officer first. I still don’t know exactly what I want to do yet. I’m more of a clerical/office type person.

    • Radek Gadek

      Looking into support and administrative positions within the court systems and law enforcement agencies is a good start.

  • Zeake

    Hello Radek, I’m planning to study Criminal justice next semester, but i’m really disappointed when you wrote in recent comments that in order to work, I’m must be a U.S. citizen or an immigrant. The problem is i love this major, and i really want to work in The U.S once i finish. So is there any other chances to have a job having AN F-1 visa. Otherwise, i’m gonna look for a different major. So please if anyone knows any information, provide me…. Thank you

    • Radek Gadek

      Most jobs within the criminal justice system require US Citizenship, especially those dealing with law enforcement. Certain positions may require Permanent Resident status.

  • jessica

    I graduated from everest college in the year of 2004 with a 2 year degree in criminal justice. Since i graduate i had hard time finding a job. I’m not sure if it was because i didn’t know what to do in the field. Now i’m 30 years old i want to find a job that i can work in my career. But it’s being a long time since i graduated should i continue my education in criminal justice or not? I’m not sure what to do i can’t find a job now so i don’t know if that’s a good idea. I don’t know exactly where to look for work. I don’t want to be a police officer or work in prison.

  • Matthew

    I would like you to update your careers section on pretrial services officer. Pretrial services offer important services to the communities they serve. I work as a supervisor for a statewide pretrial services agency that is located in Kentucky’s court of justice.

    I have a b.s. and a m.s. in criminal justice. I love the work I do in pretrial. I get to advocate on behalf of the accused.

    Granted, we don’t make high salaries but we do important work.

  • Kayce

    Thank you for making this site- it has helped me determine that I am on the right track.

    I am a freshman at a four year university and want to double major in Law and Justice as well as Sociology, and minor in Women’s and Gender studies.

    I don’t want to pursue becoming a police officer, but rather a detective, FBI, or private investigator. I have heard that to get into that pathway, first you must be a cop. Is that true? And if so, then is spending so much money on all this schooling really necessary? I know it looks better, but I can be a cop without all the money and move up as I get experience.

    What would be the best move?

    Any information would be helpful.


    • Radek Gadek

      I’ve answered this elsewhere on the blog, but in short

      1. Yes, in most cases you must be a police officer first. Exceptions are the federal investigative positions (FBI, DEA, etc.) and certain State investigative agencies (GBI, TBI, etc.).
      2. Exactly! Do you need all that education? Probably not. Is it good to have something to fall back on… in case the detective thing is not what you want to do after all? Yes. It’s a double edged sword. Still, there’s something to consider: larger departments are often seeking higher levels of education and they often pay extra for it.

  • Kirsten Brooks

    I will be entering my junior year of high school next year and recognize that I need to start making decisions about my future. Criminal Justice careers hold great interest to me, but I have a few questions.

    1) Should I be participating in activities now that I will need later on such as self-defense classes or trap shooting?
    2) Since I am still undecided as to which field of CJ I would like to enter, I am wondering what type of degree would be best to prepare me for the largest range of fields.
    3) I know some fields are more dangerous than others, but I am still unsure as to what kind of danger would be present in different jobs.
    4) What are the best “CJ degree” offering schools in the U.S? I live in WI, so state suggestions would be appreciated too.
    5) How far does military training go to help you in a CJ career, and is it worth the risk?
    6) What kinds of physical training and standards do CJ careers require? What careers require fitness testing, and what are the passing requirements?

    I wouldn’t mind working with dead bodies and such, or working in dangerous conditions. In fact, a homicide detective career really interests me. However, I would want to have a really good training background to minimize making unnecessary mistakes.

    • Radek Gadek

      1) It’s up to you, but it’s more of a YES than a NO here
      2) A Business degree goes a long way
      3) This varies by job title. You should check out different position postings of different agencies to find the scope of responsibilities and inherent dangers
      4) This one is long… I have a resource page just for that purpose: Best Criminal Justice Schools
      5) A lot in terms of law enforcement
      6) This varies by agency

      In most cases, detectives get some prep work in the role of a police officer.

  • Kayla

    Hi, thank you for this website, it helped me out a lot! I am attending a two-year community college for criminal justice. I plan on just getting my associates. Can I work in the Fraud Department in a bank with an Associates degree in Criminal Justice?

    • Radek Gadek

      This depends on the position requirements set forth by the bank. It is a possibility nonetheless.

  • Becki

    I am halfway through my BS in Criminal Justice Administration/Human Services degree and I am 56 years old. What are my options at this age for a career in Criminal Justice? I keep seeing top ages at 37 and so I wonder if now is the time to change my degree pursuit.
    I look forward to your opinion.

  • Marie

    I realize now that my last question was in the wrong place; I’m sorry! Must be very annoying.
    What criminal justice careers are available to people in their early 30’s with no college degree or work experience (people who have been busy with sick family members and changing majors)? Such as ones that do on the job training…
    I have zero interest in any of the 4 branches of military or regular police (the tickets and domestic disturbance kind that wear the uniforms) I keep reading these career top 20 lists of careers you don’t need any degree for that show some type of criminal investigators and figure it must have stemmed from some type of similar job.

  • Ronald Otano

    HI, I have a bachelor degree in Criminal Justice, I already registered and been accepted into the Criminal Justice Master Program at University of Cincinnati. I want to know what do you think about this school, and also which school can I go to get my Doctorate?

    • Radek Gadek

      University of Cincinnati has one of the best programs in the nation. Most, or rather 99% of doctorate programs in this field are at brick and mortar institutions. Run a quick search for PhD in Criminal Justice on my site and you’ll see at least a few articles tackling your second question… read the comments as well — that’s where a lot of info and opinions are.

  • Andy Rosado

    I am turning 30 and I am getting my Associates degree in Criminal Justice, but I was told by officers that I should get my bachelors in another field. I would like to stay in the criminal justice field so I was wondering what is a up and coming career and what degree should I follow to get there for my bachelors?

  • Jaquan

    I have an Associates Degree studying criminal justice and I am currently working at a level 10 juvenile correctional facility but I want something more career pursuing but im confused as what next big step to take but I am not satisfied as a C.O I would like to have better any suggestions????

  • Alexandra

    I am looking to start my Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice. Ideally, I would like to become a probation/parole officer, but I am curious as to what other careers would be available with a degree.

  • Daniel Sanchez

    I am a junior in Criminal Justice at The University of Texas at El Paso. I want to become a detention officer and then become a deputy. Is this a good transition?

  • Kelly


    I am interested in a career change into the criminal justice field. I have a BS in Journalism and took a few criminology classes for my BS but that is the extent. I have been looking into an MS in criminal justice with a concentration in analysis, or simply attaining a post bs certificate in crime analysis.

    The crime analyst position seems ideal for me as I have a very analytical mind and love the idea of compiling information from various reports to help target problem areas or even help profile a suspect in a crime. But my question is if a certificate would be enough?

    I am looking at two programs:

    Portland State Online
    Seattle University

    It appears that SU has more statistics courses. I know that this career uses a lot of mapping programs and statistics, would either of these be enough to make me eligible to work after getting the certificate or would an MS be necessary?

    Thank you!

  • Will

    I attend the a college and I am 25 in my 2nd year. I am currently debating changing my major to CJ. I am hoping to be a detective one day. my problem is my body has taken a lot of damage over they year from sports karate and combat martial arts (knees shoulders and back). I can still push myself physically and am in pretty good shape. Will my injuries hinder my advancement in the CJ field?

  • dj

    I am a 42 year old female receptionist, i don’t have a degree but i am interested in working for: the sheriff’s or police department, the court house, the county of Riverside or the city of Riverside as an office employee. What are of study should i be focusing on that will lead me to have a career in such departments.

  • T Peterson

    My daughter is interested in a filed called Victimology. It seems to be a new field, and not offered at too many areas. We live in Northern Michigan. Is there a degree that would be similar to this you can suggest? Or a school that offers this degree that isn’t in a comic book? Thank you!