Read About Criminal Justice Degrees and Careers

Learn about the best criminal justice programs, including convenient online degree options.

Top Jobs in Law Enforcement

police detective symbolizing criminal justice degrees

Criminal justice degrees give you opportunity for a career as a security guard or private investigator. Security guards keep a watchful eye to prevent theft and protect people from aggression. Private detectives work for individuals who would rather not go to the police. They do investigative work on cases ranging from corporate fraud to spousal infidelity and employee theft, among others.

It's up to you to decide which field is right for you before choosing a degree so you can focus on getting the skills you need to succeed in the field of law enforcement.

Job Outlook

If you are looking into criminal justice degrees, it’s important to know that job opportunities in most local police departments will be favorable for qualified applicants, but there will be more competition for law enforcement jobs at the state and federal level. If you work as a criminologist, job opportunities will depend on your arena, but competition for the top jobs can be intense.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook, jobs for private detectives will increase by 11 percent through 2022, which is as fast as average. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. However, there will still be strong competition for these jobs. Keep in mind that, regardless of the career path you choose, you’ll stand out in the crowd if you have earned higher level criminal justice degrees.

Law Enforcement Salaries

Here is what you can expect to earn in various careers within criminal justice:

Criminal Justice Career Median Annual Income*
Police officers $56,980
FBI agents $68,820
Private detectives and investigators $45,740
Security guards $24,020

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition; Police and Detectives; Private Detectives and Investigators; Security Guards and Gaming Surveillance Officers.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors.