Entry-Level Criminal Justice Jobs

How to Enter the Criminal Justice Career Field

You’ve loved justice and law enforcement since you were a kid. So, naturally you pursued criminal justice for your education. Now you have a bachelor’s degree under your belt. Or maybe you have an associate degree. Whichever the case, now you’re ready to start your career. But where do you begin? How do you enter the criminal justice field?

Criminal justice is a broad field that includes many kinds of jobs. You can choose a career at the local, state, or federal level, working within the criminal justice system. Let’s explore some popular options if you’re ready to enter this career field.

Jobs You Can Get with an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

With an associate degree in criminal justice, you have a strong foundation of the theories and practices of the criminal justice system. With this degree, you can enter a rewarding field with job opportunities that grow while you do. Here are some popular jobs you can land with an associate degree:

  • Police officer.Police officers protect the lives and communities they serve. They respond to emergency calls, patrol assigned areas, provide evidence and testimony in court, and have many other responsibilities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the average salary at $66,020.
  • Corrections officer. A corrections officer works in jails and prisons to protect inmates and staff. They might also be in charge of investigating illegal activity, preventing disturbance, transporting inmates, and inspecting facilities. The BLS reports the average salary at $47,920.
  • Legal assistant. A legal assistant helps lawyers by preparing documents, drafting correspondences, organizing legal appointments, and performing other legal tasks. The BLS reports the average salary at $56,230.
  • Criminal court officer. Criminal court officers, or bailiffs, maintain order in the court. They escort judges, jurors, attorneys, witnesses, and defendants into the courtroom, make sure all parties abide by the rules of the court, and ensure that lawyers and witnesses don’t influence the jury’s decision. The BLS reports the average salary at $47,920. Note: at the federal level, a bachelor’s degree is required for this position. At the local and state levels, you only need a high school diploma or associate degree.
  • Juvenile counselor. A juvenile counselor works with troubled youth in schools or correctional facilities to help them make better choices and overcome adversity. Glassdoor reports the average salary at $40,440.
  • Jobs You Can Get with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice

    With a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, you will be well-prepared to enter any of the jobs mentioned above, plus you will be well-positioned to apply for higher-level jobs. Here are some popular entry-level jobs you can pursue with a bachelor’s degree:

  • Forensic science technician. A forensic science technician has a variety of roles, including collecting and analyzing evidence, preparing detailed reports to be used in court, and explaining complex ideas to other parties. The BLS reports the average salary at $61,930.
  • Detective. A detective is a great position to work up to if you’re a police officer. With a bachelor’s, you can achieve this goal and help solve crimes. Detectives gather evidence, interview witnesses and persons of interest, participate in arrests, and much more. The BLS reports the average salary at $90,370.
  • Secret Service agent. A Secret Service agent protects important government officials like the president or vice president. Since they are part of the Department of the Treasury, they also work on cases involving fraud, money laundering, and counterfeiting. ZipRecruiter reports the average salary at $69,071.
  • FBI agent. FBI agents investigate violations of the federal government, including human trafficking, insurance fraud, drug-related crimes, financial crimes, and much more. PayScale reports the average salary at $66,542.
  • DEA agent. A DEA agent combats drug trafficking within the United States, sometimes working with other federal, state, and local agencies. They may also work with agencies from outside the United States to fight international drug crimes. ZipRecruiter reports the average salary at $81,142.
  • Benefits of Entering the Criminal Justice Career Field

    By entering the criminal justice field, you can make a difference in the lives of many people. You can help crime victims, help prevent crime, and help solve crimes. It can be a rewarding career for anybody looking to give back to their community or who wants to make a difference.

    If you think a career in criminal justice is right for you, consider pursuing an Associate in Science in Criminal Justice or a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Excelsior University so you can jump into one of these entry-level jobs and start your career in criminal justice.