Beyond the Badge: Diverse Career Opportunities with a Criminal Justice Degree


Beyond the Badge: Diverse Career Opportunities with a Criminal Justice Degree

Beyond law enforcement

If you are bothered by injustice in the world and want to do something about it, you might be drawn to a career program in criminal justice. The obvious choice, with a criminal justice degree, is to pursue a career in law enforcement. But while it is true that the traditional career path of a criminal justice graduate is police academy, you have more options with a criminal justice degree than you think. Read on to learn more. 

What can you do with a criminal justice degree?

Options for jobs with a criminal justice degree are more varied than you may think:

Law enforcement officers. Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first: yes, many criminal justice degree holders become police officers or public safety officers. There is reason to consider this option, as the law enforcement career field is expected to grow 7% between now and 2030, and the average salary for law enforcement officers is north of $60k a year. 

Probation or correctional officers. If rehabilitating inmates or helping them integrate back into society excites you, you might consider a career as a probation or correctional officer. Correctional officers work in prisons, supervising prisoners and ensuring their safety and security. Probation officers work with parolees, helping them meet the conditions of their parole and successfully re-enter society.

Court officials. If you are intrigued by courtrooms but do not want to pursue law school, you could leverage your criminal justice degree to become a courtroom clerk or reporter, handling the paperwork of the trial. If you are bilingual, you could become a court interpreter, translating for witnesses who do not speak English. Finally, bailiffs look after prisoners and maintain order in the courtroom. 

Private investigators. You don’t need a badge to help bring bad actors to justice. Private investigators are hired by businesses and individuals to do things like find missing persons, discover if a spouse is cheating, or uncover insurance fraud. 

Security guards. If you want to focus on preventing crime, a career as a security guard might be a good fit. Security guards protect people and property from bad actors, monitor their environment for safety breaches, and maintain order. 

Emergency dispatchers. You don’t necessarily need to attend a police academy to become an emergency dispatcher. In this role, you will take calls from the public and dispatch police officers to address the problems. Attention to detail and communicating with people are chief skills needed. 

Social workers. Or maybe you’d like to help disenfranchised people. In that case, a career in social work might be a good fit for you. Social workers aid families and children at risk for various reasons, helping them cope with problems and find resources. 

Build your own. A solid grounding in criminal justice can prepare you for almost any career goal involving people and courts, whether preparing for law school, targeting an FBI career, or considering starting a business. 

What are criminal justice degree requirements?

Whether pursuing an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, most degree programs will provide instruction about the criminal justice process, incarceration and its alternatives, best practices in supporting clients within the system, and crime deterrence strategies. Coursework might include introductory courses in areas like criminal investigations, criminology, criminal law, ethics, correctional systems, and analysis of the justice system in the United States. 

Regarding credit hour requirements, most associate’s degrees require around 60 credit hours (about 20 courses) for graduation, while bachelor’s degree programs require about 120 credit hours, roughly twice as many as associate’s degrees. 

Regardless of your career goals, if criminal justice is your passion, Lackawanna College has the right degree program. You can earn a criminal justice associate degree job right out of graduation, or you can keep going and earn your bachelor’s, opening up even more options. You can also earn a police academy certificate from Lackawanna. Why not reach out and apply today? Your dream career awaits.