Jobs with Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice (Ultimate Guide)
A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can be your ticket to a wide range of exciting and impactful careers in the field of law enforcement, legal services, corrections, and even federal law enforcement agencies.
With the skills and knowledge gained through a four-year degree in criminal justice education, you'll be well-equipped to enter the workforce and contribute to the safety and security of your community.
With the criminal justice field being large there a an abundance of career opportunities waiting for you but beware many of them require much more than just a bachelor's degree.
In this article, I will tell you the opportunities that may be available to a bachelor’s degree holder, where you should start your search, and give you pro tips on what could potentially help you top the candidate list for hiring.
The author of this article, Brian Humenuk, MA, holds three separate criminal justice degrees and is a veteran law enforcement official. Pay close attention and take notes.
What Jobs can you get with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice?
With a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice you can be rewarded with an entry-level position in various branches of the criminal justice system.
With a four-year degree, you have opened yourself up to more of a variety of opportunities than if you had attained an associate degree however the criminal justice field is unique in that hiring agencies want to see more than just 2 more years of coursework.
It is imperative that while you are working towards a bachelor's degree in criminal justice you do at least some of the following:
Show a consistent job history with strengths in dependability, manageability and leadership
It doesn’t matter if you work at a diner. What hiring boards want to see is that you were punctual, dependable and manageable.
You will want to show that you have stayed at a job for more than 2 years, have taken on more responsibility and you were punctual. This is important.
Joined criminal justice committees
Colleges and Universities have committees and if you are able to join one and even become a chair holder of one this would be a plus. Consider it a resume builder. The best part is that these committees in the grand scheme of things don’t do much at all.
Work a paid or non-paid internship with an agency or entity that can provide you with a letter of recommendation upon request. Not only will you be able to put this on your resume, but you will be able to place the letter of recommendation in your application packet.
Attain excellent grades while in college.
Going to college is one thing but when you are looking to get hired into a competitive field attaining excellent grades will place you on the leader's board when applying for any job.
Any hiring board that knows what they are looking for will ask about college coursework.
Work a summer job for a municipality
If your ultimate goal is to work for a government agency like a local, county or sheriff police department it would benefit you if you were able to become employed by a city or town for the summer. It doesn’t really matter what job to hold as long as you are able to get hired and you keep a good employment record.
Jobs such as special police officer, traffic officer, or even groundskeeper are adequate resume builders.
Is a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice worth it?
Yes, a bachelor's degree in criminal justice is worth it because of the job satisfaction, pay, benefits, and retirement that come along with many of the employment opportunities that cannot be found in other fields.
What types of jobs can you get with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice?
The following is only a partial list of career paths in criminal justice that you can pursue with a criminal justice degree.
A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can provide you with the necessary qualifications to become a police officer. Police departments often prefer candidates with a four-year degree as it demonstrates a commitment to education and a solid understanding of law and law enforcement principles.
Your role as a police officer may include patrolling neighborhoods, responding to emergencies, conducting investigations, and maintaining community safety.
In many police departments across the United States, a bachelor’s degree is within the criteria for promotional testing for the position of sergeant and above.
Probation or Parole Officer
Probation and parole officers play an important role in the criminal justice system by supervising individuals who have been released from incarceration.
With your bachelor's degree, you can help rehabilitate and monitor offenders, ensuring they follow the conditions of their release and guiding them toward reintegration into society.
PRO TIP: Depending on the size of the state in which you want to work the job opportunities for Probation Officer and Parole Officer are two of the most competitive jobs in the industry. You will need a strong resume and continue your education to the masters level.
Working within correctional facilities, corrections officers are responsible for the safety, security, and rehabilitation of inmates.
A bachelor's degree can lead to opportunities for advancement and specialization within the corrections system, such as becoming a supervisor corrections officer, investigator, or even a warden.
For those with aspirations of working in federal law enforcement, a bachelor's degree is often a minimum requirement. With your criminal justice degree, you can become a strong candidate for positions with agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where you may work in areas such as counterterrorism, cybercrime, or criminal investigations.
Further in this article, I will talk more about employment within the Federal Criminal Justice system.
Private investigators work in various areas, including conducting background checks, surveillance, and gathering evidence for legal or personal matters. Your degree in criminal justice can provide you with a foundation for understanding legal procedures and investigative techniques.
Government jobs with a criminal justice degree
A bachelor's degree in criminal justice isn't limited to local law enforcement or correctional agencies. It can also serve as a gateway to a variety of federal jobs within the United States government.
Federal agencies play a crucial role in maintaining national security, upholding federal laws, and providing vital services to citizens.
If you're passionate about serving your country and contributing to national security, a bachelor's degree in criminal justice opens the door to a world of opportunities at the federal level.
A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can provide you with the minimum education level in order to start applying to federal agencies. Although this is important you will need many of the resume builders that I talked about above.
The following are potential federal job opportunities for individuals holding at minimum a bachelor’s
degree in criminal justice.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent
As previously mentioned, the FBI is one of the most prestigious federal law enforcement agencies in the United States. To qualify as an FBI Special Agent, you typically need a bachelor's degree and relevant work experience.
U.S. Secret Service Agent
The U.S. Secret Service is responsible for safeguarding national leaders and maintaining the security and integrity of the U.S. financial system. With a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, you can become a Secret Service Special Agent, conducting investigations related to counterfeiting, financial crimes, and the protection of high-profile individuals.
Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent
The DEA is the lead federal agency in combatting the trafficking and distribution of controlled substances. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice, coupled with strong moral character and relevant experience, can lead to a career as a DEA Special Agent. These agents are responsible for investigating and enforcing drug laws at the federal level.
U.S. Marshals Service Deputy U.S. Marshal
The U.S. Marshals are responsible for apprehending fugitives, transporting federal prisoners, and managing federal court security. With your criminal justice degree, you can become a Deputy U.S. Marshal and play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and security of the federal judicial system.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Officer
The DHS is a vast agency responsible for safeguarding the United States from various threats, including terrorism and natural disasters. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice can pursue careers as DHS Officers, specializing in areas like immigration enforcement, customs and border protection, and emergency management.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent
The ATF is tasked with enforcing federal laws related to firearms, explosives, arson, alcohol, and tobacco. Special Agents investigate and combat various forms of violent crime. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice can be an excellent foundation for a career with the ATF.
Department of Justice (DOJ) Opportunities
Within the Department of Justice, numerous agencies offer diverse career paths for criminal justice graduates. These include the Bureau of Prisons (responsible for the custody and care of federal inmates), the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and many more.
Why is a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice important?
A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is important because in the dynamic and complex world of criminal justice, where decisions can have profound consequences on individuals' lives and the safety of communities, a solid education and well-developed leadership skills are essential.
Here's why attaining a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is important:
- In-Depth Knowledge: Criminal justice is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses law, criminology, psychology, and sociology, among others. A comprehensive education provides a valuable understanding of the complexities involved in the field.
- Legal Proficiency: The legal aspect of the criminal justice system is critical. In many roles, you'll need to understand the nuances of the law, court procedures, and the principles of justice.
A strong educational background ensures you're well-prepared to navigate the legal intricacies of the job.
- Ethical Decision-Making: The criminal justice field often presents moral and ethical dilemmas. Education equips you with the ethical frameworks and tools needed to make principled decisions. This is especially important for law enforcement officers and correctional professionals who must uphold the law while respecting individual rights.
- Problem-Solving: Effective leaders in criminal justice need strong problem-solving skills. Your education enhances your ability to analyze complex situations, consider various perspectives, and devise solutions that align with the law and ethical principles.
- Leadership and Communication: Leadership skills are crucial in roles that involve managing teams, making decisions under pressure, and guiding others. Effective communication, conflict resolution, and decision-making abilities are honed through both education and practical experience.
- Adaptability: The criminal justice field is constantly evolving. From advancements in forensic science to changes in legal procedures, staying current is vital. An educational foundation prepares you to adapt to new challenges and opportunities in the field.
- Critical Thinking: A good education encourages critical thinking. In roles such as detectives, where solving complex cases is the norm, or in legal careers that involve crafting strong arguments, critical thinking skills are indispensable.
- Interpersonal and Community Engagement: Working in criminal justice often means interacting with diverse communities. Education fosters empathy, cultural sensitivity, and the ability to engage with communities and individuals effectively.
- Accountability: Leadership in criminal justice demands accountability. Education instills a sense of responsibility, as you are not only accountable for your actions but also for the welfare of your team, the individuals you serve, and the public.
In conclusion, a solid education and dialing in on leadership skills are fundamental in the criminal justice field. They not only make you a more effective and ethical professional but also open doors to a wide range of career opportunities, including the many positions that I talked about in this article.
As you progress in your criminal justice career, never underestimate the value of continued education and the development of leadership skills, as they will be your most powerful tools for success and making a lasting impact in the field.
About the Author
Brian Humenuk isn't just an entrepreneur in eCommerce, he is also an informed leader whose experience provides followers and visitors with a look into current and past police issues making headlines in the United States.
Brian has earned three degrees in Criminal Justice with the last, a Masters of Science in Criminal Justice Administration.
Brian extends his training, education, and experience to the officers just now getting into the field so that they may become more informed police officers and stay clear of police misconduct and corruption.
You can find Brian on Linkedin here.
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