Is Criminal Justice A Good Career Path?

Criminal justice will undoubtedly come up for people who want to study for a degree and work in the legal, correctional, or law enforcement systems.

Numerous aspects of this field are covered in this article, including its definition, the stages, a good career path guide, the jobs available, and average yearly pay.

What is criminal justice? 

The term “criminal justice” refers to all of the laws, rules, institutions, and policies that control how criminal activity is dealt with within a given jurisdiction. Criminal justice is significant because it deters crime, keeps the peace, and guarantees that justice is done for all parties involved in criminal cases.

The stages and processes of criminal justice

The goal of the criminal justice system is to ensure that everyone in society is treated fairly and is protected, by convicting, punishing, and rehabilitating those who have broken the law. Several criminal justice organizations, such as the police, courts, and corrections, take several actions to achieve this goal.

  • The police investigation into a crime. To identify a suspect and provide evidence for an arrest, a criminal investigation’s goal is to collect evidence. A search or an initial examination of a person or piece of property may be necessary during an investigation. The level of proof needed to search is probable cause.
  • Police arrest a suspect. A person is taken into custody after being arrested to keep them safe until their case is resolved in court. The necessity for an arrest in law is probable cause. It denotes a plausible connection between a specific person and a specific crime.
  • Prosecution of a defendant in a criminal case by the district attorney. Prosecutors consider several factors, such as the gravity of the offense and the quality of the evidence, before deciding whether to file criminal charges against a person.
  • Initial hearing/arraignment of the defendant. A defendant is brought before a magistrate judge for an initial hearing either the same day or after being charged and taken into custody. The charges against the defendant are clarified at that time, arrangements are made for legal representation, and the judge decides whether to hold the defendant in custody or release them on bond until the trial.
  • The trial court sentences the offender after finding them guilty—whether through a plea agreement or following a trial. Many states continue to follow the custom of giving trial judges discretion to impose any sentence permitted by law, from the minimum to the maximum. A presentence report created by correctional system employees typically influences the court’s decision. A sentence may be suggested by both the prosecution and the defense. Although a prosecutor’s recommendation for a lighter sentence is not legally required, Judges are aware that doing so might make it less likely for defendants to enter guilty pleas.
  • To avoid a trial and perhaps a harsher punishment, the Government may make a plea deal offered to the defendant. Before or after the defendant is charged, a plea agreement may be reached. A defendant who gets a guilty plea acknowledges guilt and agrees that the judge handling the case may sentence them without a trial. It is up to the judge to decide how the defendant will be punished even though the government will occasionally agree, as part of a plea deal, to not recommend a specific sentence.
  • The appropriate sentence for the convicted defendant is decided by the court during the sentencing phase of a criminal case. The nature and seriousness of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, his or her situation, and the level of remorse expressed by the defendant are all things the court will take into account when deciding on an appropriate sentence.

Related: 21 Fastest Criminal Justice Degree Online

Is criminal justice a good career path? 

The BLS predicts that demand for criminal justice jobs will increase steadily over the next ten years. It’s a great time to enter the field because employment rates will rise between 2021 and 2031 for several of the most sought-after positions in criminal justice.

Numerous lucrative career opportunities in the criminal justice industry are available in fields like crime prevention, victim advocacy, corrections and rehabilitation, and investigative work. You can work in the legal field as a paralegal or judicial assistant or in law enforcement and the judicial system. Choosing to pursue a career as an attorney is yet another option. An excellent place to start for more advanced studies in law school is with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. 

The BLS states that the more education you have, the more money you can earn. Officers in many police departments, even though they hold the same rank and have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree are paid more.

The potential income of those working in criminal justice and law enforcement is influenced by a variety of factors. The first four are specialization, experience, industry, and location. The location has one of the biggest effects on compensation, even though all these factors affect the salary and wage a criminal justice professional can expect to earn.

Opportunities are expanding in the private sector, despite governments previously being the largest employers in the criminal justice field. You might work for a government organization as a professional in the criminal justice field. These organizations can be the local, state, or federal governments that typically regulate police forces, jails, and correctional facilities. Generally speaking, your income will increase with the level of government. A federal correctional officer’s median pay is $59,920, whereas a correctional officer employed by a local or state government might earn between $47,920 and $48530. 

The level of job security and stability offered by many criminal justice careers is unmatched. As long as they uphold the strict ethical standards that this particular career field demands, those who enter the field enjoy a long career that is always in demand and have peace of mind knowing that their jobs are secure. Even entry-level positions in criminal justice have salaries that can open up a lot of opportunities for ambitious professionals. Your salary is likely to rise significantly as you advance along your career path of choice.

Related: How To Find Security Jobs Near Me

Careers available in Criminal Justice 

1. Correctional Officer

Average Salary: $47,920

Correctional officers ensure the security and safety of inmates in detention facilities. They are in charge of upholding discipline and order among the prisoners. They might work with prisoners on anger management, drug treatment, and education programs.

Correctional officers are responsible for performing searches, patrolling a facility, keeping an eye on inmates’ activities, and responding to emergencies.

2. Lawyer:

Average  Salary: $127,990

A lawyer who focuses on providing counsel and defense in criminal justice cases is known as a criminal justice lawyer.

During their time in the criminal justice system, these professionals either represent the state in which they are licensed to practice or criminal defendants. A criminal justice lawyer is in charge of representing clients with criminal charges in court and presenting their defense by the law.

3. Police officer: 

Average Salary: $55,010

In general, a police officer’s responsibilities include patrolling assigned areas, responding to emergencies, looking into crimes, making arrests, and testifying in court. However, specific responsibilities depend on the size and department of the force.

4. Criminal Profiler:

Average Salary: $54,000

Criminal profilers are highly trained experts who focus on identifying the people responsible for serious crimes. Profilers cooperate with forensics teams and other law enforcement officials to identify suspects using strategies like in-depth behavioral knowledge and statistical probability.

5. Crime Scene Investigator:

Average Salary: $56,320

Specialized law enforcement officers known as “crime scene investigators” use their forensic science expertise to document crime scenes. They gather and examine evidence from crime scenes, including tire tracks, footprints, blood splatters, and other elements, to piece together theories about what happened, the order of events, and how long ago it was.

6. Forensic analysts:

Average Salary: $81,040

 Forensic analysts work in the field of criminal justice and law enforcement organizations to gather and examine sensitive evidence like fingerprints, samples of human tissue, and munitions. While others work in toxicology labs, morgues, and hospitals, some analysts actively attend crime scenes. 

7. Homicide Detective:

Average Salary: $79,620

A homicide detective looks into homicides and attempts to unravel many of the mysteries surrounding mysterious deaths. Criminal homicide cases require homicide investigators to gather relevant information and evidence. They interview potential witnesses and suspects, examine documents, keep an eye on suspects’ movements, and take part in arrests as investigators. 

While all homicide detectives strive to solve murders, they can work at various levels. Homicide investigators are typically employed by local law enforcement, though some also work for state or federal agencies.

8. Private Investigator:

Average Salary: $50,700

To gather information and carry out investigations outside of the police force, one hires a private investigator, also referred to as a private detective. Although some may work for the government, private investigators typically work for either individuals or businesses.

9. Paralegals:

Average salary: $48,179

In every stage of a legal case, paralegals assist attorneys and law firms. They interview clients, interview witnesses, and edit legal documents. Paralegals also represent attorneys in court, edit court documents, and train new paralegals.

Related: How To Find Paralegal Jobs Near Me

10. Youth Correctional Counselor: 

Average salary: $61,797

A youth correctional officer is a member of the police force who is responsible for upholding the security and safety of inmates at a juvenile facility. Youth correctional officers frequently have experience working with children because these facilities house people under the age of 18 who are accused of committing crimes. Their main responsibilities often involve feeding and tending to the medical needs of detainees, mediating disputes, managing court cases, transporting detainees to court appearances, and keeping an eye on the facility to ensure order.


Criminal justice is the ideal area to specialize in if you want a job that positively impacts society daily while helping others.

Helping others is the main driving force behind individuals who pursue careers in law enforcement and criminal justice. You can put your abilities and strength to good use in the field of criminal justice by helping victims, mentoring and rehabilitating criminals, or monitoring the progress of a parolee. 

Start working toward your criminal justice degree today if law and the criminal justice system are your passions.

Share This

Leave a Comment