A Career as a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent

    Explore new and exciting career opportunites in Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) within the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Learn More

Inside the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Division

    Explore a day in the life of a Enforcement and Remove Operations (ERO) agent working for the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Learn More

Why Become a Police Officer? 8 Reasons You Can't Ignore

    Explore 8 reasons why you should consider becoming a uniformed police officer.
  • Learn More

Featured Articles

Quick Links

Below you can explore a variety of resources that can help you make an educated and information decision about career in criminal justice. Explore criminal justice career profiles, occupation statistics, education and training programs, compensation and job outlook projects.

Criminal Justice Degrees

Explore our database of top criminal justice degrees and programs.
Your ZIP Code:

The criminal justice job market is very competitive. In order to compete for best positions, candidates should possess at minimum a bachelor's degree. However, many positions now require a master's degree.

Criminal Justice Careers and Occupations

he field of criminal justice offers some very exciting and rewarding career opportunities. With new breakthroughs in forensic technology and an ever evolving domestic and international criminal justice landscape, it's almost a guarantee a career as a law enforcement or criminal justice professional will be anything but boring. There is an ever expanding list of criminal justice and law enforcement career opportunities that welcome individuals with diverse educational and professional backgrounds. Whether your interested in in criminology, psychology, political science, social work, engineering, forensics, chemistry, law or even accounting, you'll find a criminal justice career suited to your interests and skill set.

Below is a comprehensive list of the most popular criminal justice and law enforcement career fields. Within each field you'll also find a number of job specialities. For example, many people want to become a "CIA Agent", but they don't realize there are several different types of CIA agents (i.e. Operations Officer, College Management Officer, Intelligence Officer, Language Officer, etc.)? In addition, within each law enforcement agency, there are numerous "Support and Professional" positions, such as intelligence analyst, forensic accountant, applied scientist, engineer, and many more. To learn more about a specific career field, and to the explore the opportunities it offers, simply make your selection from the list below.

Criminology

Criminology
Criminology is a combination of both sociology and criminal justice. It attemps to understand and explain the anatomy of a crime, specifically its causes, costs, and consquences.

Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officers focus one preventing and investigating crimes, and apprehending suspects. They also work with the courts to see that criminals are prosecuted.

Law enforcement professionals fall into one of three general categories: Uniformed Officers, Investigators, and Support positions. Uniformed officers are our first line of defense against criminals. They patrol communities and respond to calls for assistance. They also investigate robberies and minor crimes.

Investigators are plainclothes law enforcement officers that investigate crimes. Specifically, they gather information and evidence that helps identify criminal activity and prosecute perpetrators.

Support personnel are the law enforcement professionals who work behind the scenes to make sure evidence is analyzed, clues are found, ballistics are examined, and crimes scenes are accurately reconstructed. While not as visible as other law enforcement careers, support personnal are some of the most highly educated and intelligent people in law enforcment.



Courts

Courts & Judicial System
The courts are at the center of the U.S. criminal justice system. Their primary objective is to determine the guilt or innocence of suspected criminals, and then set sentencing.

Corrections

Corrections & Rehabilitation
The corrections system in the U.S. is established to career out sentencing of a criminals and to enforce punishments. The three main components of the U.S. corrections sytem include incarceration, probation and parole.

Employment Statistics

Criminal justice occupations include criminologists, police officers, correctional officers, detectives, investigators, and immigration officers, among others. The industries that employ the greatest number of criminal justice professionals include those listed in the table below.

Industry Employment % of Industry Employment Mean hourly way Mean annual wage
Local Government 1,378,200 25% $26 $53,170
Investigative and Security Services 668,400 80% $13 $26,600
State Government 391,000 18% $25 $51,000
Federal Government 147,800 7% $31 $65,000
Elementary and Secondary Education Institutions 69,900 1% $39 $81,000
The following map displays the number of protectice service professionals (including by criminal justice and law enforcement officers) on a state by state basis in all 50 US states. Dark green states represent those states that employ the largest number of criminal justice professionals. Light green states employ the least number of law enforcement and criminal justice professionals.

The table below lists the US states where the largest number of criminal justice professionals and law enforcement officers are employed, along with the location quotient and mean wage for each state.

State Employment Location quotient Mean hourly way Mean annual wage
California 353,000 .98 $25 $52,900
Texas 284,500 1.06 $19.5 $40,600
New York 276,800 1.30 $25 $52,300
Florida 222,000 1.21 $19 $40,000
Illinois 145,500 1.04 $23 $47,600
The location quotients, as displayed in the table above and map below, represent the ratio of the concentration of criminal justice and law enforcement professionals employed in a state to the average concentration for the entire nation. A state with a location quotient less than once indicates that the state has a larger share of employment of criminal justice professionals than the national average.

The following map of the United States displays the location quotient for criminal justice and law enforcement professionals ("Protect Service Occupations") for each state in nation.

The following table lists those US states with the highest location quotient for protective service occupations.

State Employment Location quotient Mean hourly way Mean annual wage
District of Columbia 28,400 1.73 $27 $56,500
Hawaii 21,000 1.42 $20 $40,600
Nevada 38,600 1.36 $20 $20,700
New York 276,800 1.3 $25 $52,300
Arizona 77,600 1.28 $21 $44,200

Salary and Wage Data

There are many factors that influence the earning potential for criminal justice professionals and law enforcement officers. These include (1) specialty, (2) experience, (3) industry and (4) location. While all these factors influence the salary and wage a criminal justice professional can expect to earn, location has one of the biggest impacts on compensation. For example, a probation officer working in Nebraska can expect to earn roughly $35,000 a year. However, that same probation officer, with the same level of training and experience, will make over $55,000 a year fulfilling the same job responsibilities working in New York City. As you consider where you want to work, you'll also want to consider relative earnings for that region.

The following table shows the hourly and annual wage for each percentile of criminal justice and law enforcement professionals working in the United States.

Percentile 10% 25% 50% (Median) 75% 90%
Hourly Wage $9.15 $11.75 $17.70 $27.35 $38.05
Annual Wage $19,000 $24,400 $36,800 $56,900 $79,200
The following map of the United States shows the annual mean wage for all criminal justice and law enforcement professionals on a state by state basis. Those states shown in dark blue have the highest annual mean wage, where those in light blue have the lowest annual mean wage.

The following table lists the 5 states with the highest mean wage for criminal justice professionals along with total employment, location quotient, mean hourly wage and mean annual wage figures. (Note: the Mean wage is where 50% of workers make more, while 50% of workers make less.)

State Employment Location quotient Mean hourly way Mean annual wage
District of Columbia 28,400 1.73 $28 $56,500
New Jersey 99,000 1.05 $27 $55,900
California 353,000 .98 $25 $52,900
Alaska 7,890 1.00 $26 $52,500
New York 276,800 1.30 $26 $52,300
The following table lists the 10 metropolitan areas with the highest mean wage for criminal justice professionals along with total employment, location quotient, mean hourly wage and mean annual wage figures.

Metro area Employment Location quotient Mean hourly way Mean annual wage
Hanford-Corcoran, CA 3,780 4.11 $34.50 $71,700
El Centro, CA 3,840 3.01 $32 $66,500
Salinas, CA 4,300 1.12 $31.50 $65,500
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA 2,960 .99 $31.45 $65,400
Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, NJ 2,820 1.97 $31.20 $64,900
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA 2,940 1.17 $30.70 $63,880
Bakersfield-Delano, CA 9,290 1.31 $29.70 $61,770
Brockton-Bridgewater-Easton, MA NECTA Division 2,760 1.25 $29.65 $61,700
Bellingham, WA 1,600 .85 $29.65 $61,700
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA Metropolitan Division 24,760 .96 $29.40 $61,150
The following table lists the the 5 non-metro areas that have the highest mean wage for criminal justice and law enforcement professionals.

Nonmetropolitan area Employment Location quotient Mean hourly way Mean annual wage
Northern Mountains Region of California nonmetropolitan area 3,480 2.32 $32 $65,000
Mother Lode Region of California nonmetropolitan area 2,580 2.78 $31 $62,800
Southwestern New Mexico nonmetropolitan area 1,240 1.90 $29 $61,100
Railbelt / Southwest Alaska nonmetropolitan area 2,020 1.11 $28.70 $59,700
Southeast Arizona nonmetropolitan area 4,720 3.25 $28 $58,700

Job Outlook

Unfortunately, crime is not decreasing. Our nation faces greater threats to its domestic and national security than ever before. Even though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that job growth in criminal justice and law enforcement is expected to be about the same as the average for all other occupations, law enforcement agencies are going to be looking for criminal justice professionals with specialized skills, knowledge and backgrounds. While there are a few entry-level positions in criminal justice and law enforcement that don't require a degree, positions will be most plentiful for those candidates that have an advanced degree in criminal justice, technology, cybercrimes, linguistics, psychology, forensic science, chemistry, computer science, and accounting. If you really want to set yourself apart from other job seekers, earning a master's degree or Phd is recommended. Most entry-level criminal justice positions at minimum will require a 4-year college degree.

The BLS estimates that between 2014 and 2024 job growth for criminal justice occupations will average right around 12%. Law enforcement agencies will primarily be looking to hire police officer, detectives, and private security professionals. Federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, DIA and DEA, will also be hiring new recruits and agents, but not as many. There will be a lot of competition for criminal justice jobs within federal law enforcement agencies. Job opportunities will be best for candidates with specializeds skills and training. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies will all be seeking candidates with specialized computer technology skills.

The following table shows the projected job growth as a percentage increase between 2014 and 2024 for several of the more popular criminal justice and law enforcement occupations.

Correctional Officers 5%
Fire Inspectors 6%
Police and Detectives 5%
Private Detectives and Investigators 11%
Security Guards 12%
Forensic Scientist/Science Technician 19%
Lawyer 10%
Court Reporter 14%
Correctional Treatment Specialist 19%
Paralegal/Legal Assistant 20%
Cybersecurity 25+%
Information Security Analyst 37%
Company Information
About
Privacy Policy
Help
Contact Us
Submit a Resource