Criminal justice fields include careers that serve and protect the public in some capacity–locally and at all levels of government. Obtaining certification or a degree from an accredited college or university is the first step toward entering into one of the many diverse criminal justice fields. Among the top schools offering a criminal justice major are American Intercontinental University, Walden University, and Kaplan University, each providing programs ranging from general criminal justice to the more specific fields of law enforcement and policing, criminal psychology, forensic science, and computer security, to name a few. With options that include several physical campus locations throughout the United States and distance learning from anywhere with internet access, these schools that prepare students for criminal justice fields are both viable and accessible for anyone seeking a degree in the criminal justice field.
Popular Criminal Justice Fields
Criminal justice fields cover a wide variety of paths and degree requirements. Law enforcement careers range from local police officer positions to federal government positions, including jobs with the FBI, DEA, or CIA. These careers span all levels of degree requirements, from high school diploma and certification through a local police academy to postgraduate degrees for consideration and advancement at the federal levels. Salaries range from an average of about $47,000 annually for police officers to more than $92,500 per year at the higher levels of the CIA and DEA. These jobs offer the advantage of constant challenge and diversity in daily tasks, but also carry inherent health risks due to the elevated levels of stress when dealing with criminal elements and unpredictable schedules.
Another option within the criminal justice field is a forensics crime scene investigator, or CSI. A CSI agent is responsible for collecting, examining and evaluating evidence from a crime scene, preparing detailed reports based on the investigation of a crime scene, and working with law enforcement to help solve crimes. The benefits of this career choice include more regular hours and a salary range that can be as high as $63,000 annually at the entry level. However, regular hours are not always guaranteed, as there may be nights and weekends on call and availability at any time is expected. Being able to respond quickly when called is required for this position.
Finally, a criminal justice degree may lead to a choice of career in the legal arena, ranging from paralegal or legal assistant to attorney and eventually judge. Advantages of these careers include greater salary potential, often starting near or over $100,000 annually for attorneys, a more regulated schedule of working hours, and less personal risk involved when compared to other criminal justice fields. However, a career in legal fields often involves a much more advanced degree and often requires the patience and ability to progress to higher positions over an extended length of time.
Regardless of chosen path, careers in criminal justice fields offer a wide variety of rewarding and stable options to choose from. Jobs in criminal justice fields will always be in demand, offering job security for both the present and the foreseeable future.