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Over 30 Different Criminal Justice Careers

criminal-justice-careers-graphicThere are many different types of criminal justice careers. In fact, we have profiled over 30 different types of justice careers. Scroll down or click here to jump to all of the listings! While perusing the different profiles to figure out which might be best for you, you will find consistent information:

  1. Detailed write-ups on the duties, responsibilities, and salary/wage summaries (where the data is available)
  2. Visual depiction on the common skills and qualities that position has to help you figure out if it is “natural” for you. You can see a sample below of what many people working in the broad criminal justice field have in common.
  3. Different criminal justice schools that offer a degree that could help you get into that field. There are exceptions here so make sure to talk with the specific school about their programs and what career options you might have.

Highlighted Criminal Justice Careers

A criminal investigator gathers evidence at crime scenes and use their technical skills and research capabilities to piece together the story behind a crime and bring the culprit to justice. Conducting interviews, observing suspects, gathering evidence, obtaining warrants and arresting suspects as well as keeping extensive files and data to prepare and present to a court of law are the main duties of a criminal investigator, also called a detective or agent.

Correctional officers actually work in jails and prisons with convicts. This job isn’t for the faint of heart and can be very stressful, dangerous and sometimes disturbing. They’re responsible for ensuring a prison and its inmates stay under control and do not pose a threat to one another or other officers. Performing searches of inmates and their living quarters, supervising activities and visitations, escorting prisoners throughout the camp and reporting on inmate misconduct are all part of a day’s work for a corrections officer. This is one of the most difficult areas of police work, but those who can handle the harsh reality of the other side of law enforcement and want to potentially help people make changes that will impact the rest of their lives may find this a suitable career path.

Earnings will vary depending on the field you choose to follow post-graduation, from less than a general uniformed officers to much higher. A criminal investigator’s annual income, for example, was reported to be $80,540 as of May 2014 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, while a correction officer’s reported salary was $39,780.

Full List of 30+ Criminal Justice Career Paths

Below is our comparison of all of the top 30 criminal justice careers. There are a lot, so we recommend taking your time and reading through this table first if you are trying to figure out which career path you want to pursue. In this table, for each occupation, you will find a button (+View Career Profile) – click that to go to a more detailed summary of the individual career you are looking at.

Career Path Area of Justice Summary of Responsibilities Skill Requirements Minimum Degree Detailed Career Profile

Airport Security Officer

Security Screening of passengers and baggage against weapons, explosives, and other potentially hazardous material Detail-oriented, patriotism, observational

Associates +View Career Profile


Law Generally, an attorney helps clients be aware of the law to support them, protecting their rights and interests. There are many law specialties. Creative, very high level of knowledge of the law, ability to complete detailed research Juris Doctorate (J.D. Degree) +View Career Profile


Courts Provide security and maintain order in a court of law. On-time, detailed, high integrity, cursory knowledge of the courts. Associates or Bachelors +View Career Profile

Body Guard

Security Protect a person who feels that their personal safety is being threatened. Physical strength, knowledge of weaponry, typically military background High School/GED / Associates +View Career Profile


Mortuary Determines the cause, manner and time of death, if it did not occur within a hospital setting, and investigates foul play and true cause of death. Human anatomy, calm under pressure Bachelors or Higher +View Career Profile

Corrections Officer

Security Supervise inmates awaiting initial court appearances or trial dates in local jails and other institutions. Work well under stress, good communication skills and self-defense skills High School/GED, AS/BS Education Recommended +View Career Profile

Court Administrator

Administrative Handles the non-judicial functions of the court, working within the local, state, or federal court system. Detailed, organized, planner Bachelors +View Career Profile

Court Clerk

Administrative Schedules hearings and prepares the court docket, administers oaths to jurors and witnesses. Organized, personable, detailed High School/GED, AS/BS Education Recommended +View Career Profile

Criminal Investigator

Criminal Investigates and collects evidence at crime scenes, identifies and labels evidence, interviews witnesses and suspects. Inquisitive, detailed, knowledgeable Bachelors or Higher +View Career Profile


Criminal Identify and analyze criminal patterns based on psychological, social and biographical factors. Psychology experience, social understanding, inquisitive Bachelors or Higher +View Career Profile

Deportation Officer

Counseling Promote national security by enforcing border integrity and preventing illegal immigration, assist in trial hearings leading up to final removal from the country. Bi-or-Multi-Lingual, communicative, personable High School/GED, AS/BS Education Recommended +View Career Profile


Criminal Gather evidence for criminal cases, protect individuals or businesses from crime and harm, and conduct background checks. Inquisitive, detailed, knowledgeable High School/GED, AS/BS Education Recommended +View Career Profile

Diversion Investigator

Security Responsible for monitoring the illegal diversion of controlled substances into legitimate channels. Multi-Lingual, military training, detailed, patriotic High School/GED, AS/BS Education Recommended +View Career Profile

Fingerprint Specialist

Administrative Specializes in collecting and identifying fingerprint evidence. Organized, follow directions High School/GED, AS/BS Education Recommended +View Career Profile

Homeland Security Specialist

Security Work for the Department of Homeland Security and are usually employed by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, check goods and travelers at points of entrance in United States, including airports, border crossings and seaports. Detail-oriented, patriotism High School/GED, AS/BS Education Recommended +View Career Profile

Juvenile Court Counselor

Counseling Evaluate progress and advise court officers for juvenlie deliquents on the risk that further unlawful behavior might occur. Caring, but firm, optimistic, see the good in all, rehabilitative Bachelors or Higher +View Career Profile

Juvenile Probation Officer

Counseling Work with courts, investigating the juvenile offender’s background, writing pre-sentence reports, and recommending sentences, as well as providing and helping with probation and rehabilitation plans. Listening, compassionate, organized Bachelors or Higher +View Career Profile

Legal Secretary

Administrative Prepare correspondence, typing legal documents, which includes motions, pleads, briefs and subpoenas. Organized, detail oriented, able to follow direction and processes High School/GED, AS/BS Education Recommended +View Career Profile

Loss Prevention Specialist

Administrative Protects the property of hotels or department stores, helping save money with monitoring and reporting analysis. Inquisitive, detailed, skeptical High School/GED, AS/BS Education Recommended +View Career Profile

Military Officer

Military Officer training is often achieved at the federal service academies, but college graduates can become commissioned in the Armed Forces through Officer Candidate School or Officer Training School programs. Disciplined, organized, able to follow direction Bachelors or Higher +View Career Profile


Administrative Assist an attorney to help with a clients legal predicaments. Performs many different duties, but is not authorized to give legal advice to clients. Organized, knowledge of legal matters, ambitious Certificate the minimum, but many firms prefer AS or BS degree +View Career Profile

Park Ranger

Environmental Enforces laws relating to boating, hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation.

Outdoorsman, physically fit Associates or Higher +View Career Profile



Experts in incarceration and rehabilitation of criminals. See big picture, analytical skills Bachelors or Higher +View Career Profile

Police Officer


Ensures the community, city or state a safe place to live, including the protection of citizens, maintaining public order, apprehending criminals and preventing criminal activity Disciplined, loyal, knowledge of the law, high integrity Associates or Bachelors +View Career Profile

Private Security Officer


AKA security guards, protect individuals and property from crime, fire, or other hazards. Observant, high integrity, well trained Associates or Bachelors +View Career Profile

Security Director

Security Head of a security force working for an individual or institution, in charge of an entire security operation, including managing security officers. Excellent foresight, management skills, years of security experience Bachelors or Higher +View Career Profile



The highest law enforcement officers in their counties. Job duties of sheriffs vary considerably in rural and urban settings. Jack of all trades, loyalty, high integrity Bachelors or Higher +View Career Profile

Social Worker

Counseling Assist less fortunate people to resolve personal, financial, health, emotional, and occupational issues in their lives. Empathetic, compassionate, organized, planner Bachelors in some cases, Masters of Social Work in most cases +View Career Profile

State Trooper

Criminal Work to protect the safety of citizens throughout your state, particularly patrolling highways. Able to drive long distances, observant, high integrity Associates or Higher +View Career Profile

U.S. Marshal

Criminal United States Marshals Service is responsible for protecting the federal courts and judicial system. Peak physical condition, interrogation skills, conflict management Bachelors or Higher +View Career Profile

Victim Services Specialist


Help victims cope with the trauma of the situation and navigate the world of social service agencies, the justice system, and health care. Compassionate, organized, extremely knowledgeable Bachelors in some cases, Masters of Social Work in most cases +View Career Profile

Youth Advocate

Counseling Acts a mediator, confidant, or counselor between youths or juveniles and their parents, justice system, schools and more. Compassionate, diplomatic, understanding, organized. Bachelors or Higher +View Career Profile

Top Skills for Criminal Justice Employees

Throughout our 30+ criminal justice career profiles, you will find similar skills that are more specific that align with the specific career. These are by no means a “must”, but if your natural skills and qualities align with these it will help you in your day-to-day job. Some programs offered by schools (like this MS in Criminal Justice offered by Lamar) incorporate specific skills and characteristics into their learning environment that will be employed onto by certain agencies (FBI, CIA ,etc).

Working with juveniles, the court system, or as a probation officer:
[wsc id=”154191″] Working as an officer of the law, investigator, or deputy marshal:
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Becoming a Police Officer

Since the majority of those who choose to study criminal justice will go on to work with the police force during their career, let’s highlight the basic requirements and duties of a uniformed officer. He or she is sworn to the constitution to protect the citizens of the United States, and they should have just as much compassion for the community they service as they do for the pursuit of justice.

To become an officer in most states, a high school graduate or someone who has earned their GED and is over the age of 21 can apply to a police academy. They must have clean local, state and federal criminal records and study to pass the ASSET or COMPASS exams. These tests are administered to prospective applicants of most law enforcement agencies. Before being accepted, applicants may also have to undergo a background check, physical aptitude test, oral board interview and a psychological and medical exam.

Once accepted to an academy, students begin their training. Federal officers are trained at the U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, or another national facility. Whether working local, state or federal, all police academy students are educated on constitutional law, ethics, policing protocol and tactics, firearms competency and crime scene documentation.

Promotions from within the force are achieved through hard work and passing promotional exams. After you have graduated and been officiated as a member of the police force, you can begin to work and accrue hours and prepare to take the promotional tests. Test scores and work performance obviously play a role in a person’s likelihood of being promoted, but those who want to enter a specific career or increase their qualifications will have to meet the requirements of that job. For many upper-level positions, this holding at least a bachelor’s. A graduate degree can also greatly increase one’s qualifications and promotional opportunities.