Highest Paying Criminal Justice JobsMost people don't get involved in the field of criminal justice for the pay. Fact is, the large majority of criminal justice careers won't ever make you rich. However, if you know where to look, there are a few criminal justice careers that offer six figure salaries and attractive compensation packages. The following are the highest paying jobs in 2018 in the fields of criminal justice and criminology.
One of the largest factors influencing salary is location. Across the board, criminal justice jobs in big cities, such as San Francisco, New York, etc., typically pay more than jobs in small rural areas.
Level of education is also a big factor when it comes to how much you'll make. Other factors influencing earning potential include years of experience, reputation, specialized training and the type of organization you work for.
LawyerAverage Salary: $142,000
Not surprisingly, lawyers are at the top of the list of highest-paid criminal justice professionals. Lawyers are involved in almost every level of the U.S. justice system, from large domestic trials to small claims disputes to international arbitrage cases. Lawyers working in the private sector as defense attorneys are among the highest paid of those in the field of criminal justice. Of course, high pay doesn't come without its sacrifices. Lawyers must earn a bachelor's degree and then complete law school. Following law school they must then pass the Bar exam. All in all, to become a lawyer requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and ambition.
Judges and MagistratesAverage Salary: $121,000
With a salary of just over $121,000 a year, Judges came in second on our list of highest paying criminal justice careers. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts for the federal court system reported that the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court earns roughly $260,000 a year, and at $250,000 the Associate Justices earn just slightly less. Federal circuit judges earn about $220,000 a year and District judges earn $208,000. Court of International Trade and Federal Claims judges earn $208,000 as well.
According to 2018 state government salary data, chief justices of the states' highest courts earn a median annual wage of $165,000 – ranging from $123,000 to $232,000 a year. Associate justices at the state level earn a median annual wage of $160,000 – ranging from $122,000 on the low end to $221,000 on the high end. State intermediate appellate court chief judges earn a median salary of $157,000 a year – ranging from $118,000 to $208,000. While state intermediate appellate court judges, other than chief judges, earn a median yearly wage of $150,000 – ranging from $115,000 to $208,000.
State judges working for general jurisdiction trial courts have a median annual wage of just under $152,000 – ranging from about $118,000 on the low end to $208,000 on the high end.
The primary responsibility of judges and magistrates is to conduct civil and criminal trials, and ensure that lawyers follow the rules and regulations dictated by the law and that suspects and criminals receive due process.
Intelligence AnalystAverage Salary: $94,000
Law enforcement is made up of three categories of professionals: Uniformed Officers, Investigators and Support positions. When most people think of criminal justice or law enforcement, they typically picture either uniformed officers or investigators. However, some the brightest and highest paid law enforcement professionals are those working behind the scenes making sure that evidence is processed, criminals are convicted, and cases are solved. Intelligence analysts work behind the scenes, gathering and analyzing data in an effort to solve cases and assess potential security risks. While intelligence analysts can be found working at the state and local levels, the vast majority work at the federal level for the FBI. Intelligence analysts can make from $69,000 to $115,000 a year.
Forensic PsychologistAverage Salary: $93,000
Forensic psychologists are trained clinical psychologists who specialize in criminal justice. Forensic psychologists use their understanding of human nature and behavior to develop criminal profiles that law enforcement officer can use to identify and track suspects. They may also interview suspects, counsel prisoners and work with law enforcement officers to prosecute suspected criminals. Forensic psychologists have advanced degrees in the fields of psychology or behavioral science to help them perform their duties.
Forensic psychologists are classified as human service psychologists. For purposes of reporting salary statistics the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lumps them into the “other psychologists” category. The BLS reports that other psychologists, including forensic psychologists, have a median salary of about $98,000, with the top echelon earning over $126,000 a year.
Financial ExaminerAverage Salary: $92,000
Like intelligence analyst, the job of financial examiner is not a front line law enforcement position that receives much public attention. Financial examiners are highly educated and trained specialists that excel in financial mathematics, financial accounting and are tasked with the unique responsibility of helping police and other law enforcement professionals identify and prove financial fraud, money laundering, or embezzlement. Financial examiners are employed by governmental law enforcement agencies as well as private firms that specialize in financial investigations.
Financial examiners are some of the most highly skilled professionals in law enforcement. As such, they are required to complete rigorous education and training programs. Most financial examiners have a master's degree in accounting, finance, financial analysis or a closely related field of study.
CriminologistAverage Salary: $83,000
Criminologists are sociologists that study the anatomy of crime, specifically its causes, consequences and costs. Like forensic psychologists, criminologists are profilers. However, where forensic psychologists profile individuals, criminologists develop profiles of crimes. Criminologists spend much of their time gathering, assimilating, and analyzing information in an effort to prevent crime. While it is impossible to know how many crimes haven't been committed, it's believed that criminologists are the number one crime prevention specialists within law enforcement.
College ProfessorAverage Salary: $69,000
Wait a second, college professors aren't law enforcement professionals! Well, not exactly but they do work exclusively in criminal justice, teaching and training students for careers in criminology, law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Unlike most law enforcement professionals, professors don't have to pass rigorous physical exams. They are however required to have advanced doctoral degrees in order to teach. While the job of college professor might not be the most glamorous of criminal justice roles its very necessary. College professors train the students who will become the next generation of criminal justice professionals.
FBI AgentSalary: $48,000 to $137,000
On our list of top paying criminal justice careers, FBI agent comes in at number three. But before you get too excited, you should know that only the best of the best make it into the FBI these days. Even getting on the FBI recruitment list is quite a challenge. To become an FBI agent you need a college degree in a relevant field of study, have a squeaky clean background, and law enforcement experience. And once you get in, you still have to make it through the FBI's rigorous academy for new recruits.
Just starting out, trainees can look forward to making $48,297 a year plus an additional locality adjustment of 28.22% while at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. However, annual compensation, depending on location, quickly jumps to above $70,000 when trainees become new Special Agents working in the field.
With bonuses and pay raises based on seniority and years of service, FBI agents can make over $137,000 a year plus locality adjustments by the time they retire. FBI agents also receive attractive retirement options.
Customs OfficialSalary: $40,000 to $96,000
Even since 9/11 our nations borders and their security have become e a top priority for U.S. law enforcement agencies. Increased emphasis has been placed on stopping drug trafficking, illegal immigration, human trafficking, and illegal weapons trade to and from the United States. Customs officials are among the highly trained border patrol agents and criminal justice professionals responsible for maintaining the integrity of our borders and stopping criminal from entering and leaving the United States or transporting illegal items across international borders. With thousands of miles of border to patrol and a seemingly undaunted criminal element, there is always demand for more qualified customs offices here at home.
Corrections ManagementAverage Salary: $67,000
Corrections is an essential component of the U.S. criminal justice system. Once a criminal has been found guilty and sent to prison, the must be guarded, cared for, and, if possible, rehabilitated. While correction officers aren't one of the highest paid law enforcement professionals, correction managers can make a very handsome salary — with attractive benefits. Correction managers work in federal and state prisons, jails and detention centers. Their primary responsibility is the day-to-day management of the corrections officers who are directly responsible for the oversight of prisoners and maintaining corrections facilities. It is the job of a corrections manager to ensure the safety of corrections officers, guards, and other staff — as well as the prisoners themselves. Most corrections managers start out corrections officers, climbing the ranks to corrections management.
Security ManagerAverage Salary: $65,000
Want to work in criminal justice, but don't want to work for the government? Then you may be interested in a career as a security manager. Security manager is one of the highest paying criminal justice positions in the private sector. Security managers are in charge of the security management detail for large commercial buildings, complexes and facilities. They may work for independent security firms that manage a large number of properties or they may work directly for a private company. Almost every large property, celebrity or corporation in the world requires a security manager to run and manage their security personnel, so job opportunities are plentiful and almost everywhere.
Police OfficerAverage Salary: $65,000
With nearly 800,000 uniformed police offices currently working in the United States, there is always demand for these professionals as older officers retire or move on. Police officers are our nation's and our community’s first line of defense against criminals. Every day police officers are on the streets, patrolling our communities standing between criminals and ordinary citizens. They apprehend suspects and work with investigators and other law enforcement professionals to prevent future crimes from taking place. Even though most of us don't appreciate getting speeding tick or being pulled over for a minor traffic violation, our law based, free society would come to screeching halt without police officers — and criminals would run rampant.
Fire InvestigatorAverage Salary: $62,000
You may not have know that firefighters are criminal justice professionals. Well, actually they aren't but fire investigators are. Once a fire has been put out, fire investigators take charge of the scene — which is treated much like a crime scene. Fire investigators are responsible for determining the cause of the fire. While most fires occur accidentally, some do not. Fire investigators use scientific investigative techniques, technologies and processes to determine if a fire was an accident or it it is the result of arson. When arson is the cause of a fire, a criminal investigation is launched. Without skilled fire investigators these crimes would never be solved. Fire investigators work with police detectives to identify, apprehend and prosecute arsonists.
Earning a degree in fire science or fire investigation is the first step to becoming a fire investigator. While some fire investigators start off as firefighters, most are recruited out of college and from special training programs. Qualified fire investigators working in large departments can make a handsome annual salary.
Private InvestigatorAverage Salary: $55,000
In movies and on TV, private investigators are portrayed as a glamorous, intelligent law enforcement professionals that are always one step ahead of the law, living a lavious lifestyle and catching criminals before the police do. The life of a P.I. is rarely glamorous and very few make six figures. If you're looking to become the next Magnum PI, then you need to become an actor. Real private investigators examine evidence, track down criminals, review records, interview suspects, and perform long hours of surveillance. Most private investigators start out as uniformed officer or police detectives and transition into a private investigative career. Most private investigators make between $45,000 and $60,000 a year, which a select few making six figures.
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