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17 Different Types of Criminal Justice Jobs

Judge gavel on book and justice lady on the wooden table.

So, you’ve obtained your criminal justice degree. Now what? There are many fields of work that you can enter into.

Criminal justice is a vast field and could lead you into law, forensics, and many more careers. One thing is for sure. There is no lack of types of jobs that involve criminal justice.

The types of criminal justice jobs are police officer, correctional officer, private or crime scene investigator, criminal profiler, crime prevention specialist, DEA, homicide detective, jail screening, probation, or narcotics officer, state trooper, fingerprint technician, and deputy sheriff.

With so many options available, it might be hard to choose just one career path. Luckily, the information below will provide you with everything you need to know about each job, including the responsibilities and characteristics of an ideal candidate. Let’s dive right in!

Police Officer

Police officer partners standing together.

Average annual income: $ 53,295

Local, state, and federal governments can employ police officers. They are committed to protecting citizens. Police offers are dedicated to ensuring the welfare and safety of the citizens of an area.

The responsibilities of a police officer include:

  • Patrolling public areas to ensure the safety of those residing there
  • Responding to reports or calls regarding criminal activity
  • Reporting incidents
  • Issuing citations
  • Arresting those who violate the law

To become a police officer, you will have to undergo extensive physical and medical testing and participate in rigorous training programs. This job is not easy and can be extremely dangerous.

Correctional Officer

Correctional officer monitoring inmate.

Average annual income: $41, 701

Correctional officers work in local, state, or federal jails, prisons, and holding cells. They supervise inmates and maintain order.

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Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Making sure that neither inmates nor visitors have weapons
  • Confiscating banned substances
  • Checking inmates and visitors for drugs
  • Monitoring inmate activities
  • Inspecting facilities to confirm that they meet the sanitary, security, and safety requirements

This job is very physically demanding. Correctional officers have a significantly heightened risk of injury while on the job.

Private Investigator

Private investigator working on a case in his office.

Average annual income: $50, 090

Private investigators are usually employed by private detective firms, police departments, or private businesses. They are imperative members in the investigations of legal, financial, and criminal cases.

Private investigators are often employed to assist in cases involving missing persons.

The responsibilities of a private investigator include:

  • Researching cases
  • Searching for clues to gather evidence
  • Searching public records
  • Conducting background checks
  • Interviewing people
  • Conducting surveillance
  • Monitoring surveillance

Private investigators need to be computer literate. Many tasks require them to use their technical knowledge to obtain vital information. They also need to be effective communicators and practice patience.

Attention to detail is also crucial when investigating cases.

Criminal Profiler

Average annual income: $54,000

Criminal profilers work for local, state, and federal governments. They are essential agents of the FBI, who work to provide investigators will a full psychological or physical description of a suspect.

Criminal profilers use their investigative skills to analyze the minds of criminals.

The responsibilities of a criminal profiler include:

  • Identifying behavioral patterns of criminals
  • Demonstrating proper knowledge of investigative strategies, crime analysis, and interviewing techniques
  • Performing personality tests
  • Studying human behavior and characteristics
  • Conducting research
  • Analyzing data and forming conclusions
  • Advising law enforcement
  • Reading and writing reports
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Crime Prevention Specialist

Average annual income: 52,000

Crime Prevention Specialists are employed to work in local communities. They work with the community to formulate crime prevention strategies in the area.

The responsibilities of a crime prevention specialist include:

  • Recommending ways communities can be prepared for crime as well as
  • Discussing ways of implementing reliable security
  • Developing youth-focused programs
  • Determining crime prevention marketing
  • Identifying and promoting community leaders
  • Educating the community on emergency response measures
  • Violence prevention

Criminal prevention specialists should be attentive and be able to formulate structured plans. They need to be organized and efficient communicators. These professionals should also have a passion for helping people.

Crime Scene Investigator

Crime scene investigator collecting evidence.

Average annual income: $56, 320

Crime scene investigators are involved in investigating and protecting the scenes of crimes, post mortems, suspicious deaths, and fires. Crime scene investigators are also known as scenes of crime officers.

The responsibilities of a crime scene investigator include:

  • Processing and categorizing
  • Gathering photographic evidence or physical samples from the scene
  • Taking the lead in searching for evidence that might support a criminal case
  • Writing reports
  • Attending court to present evidence as part of a trial

If you’re considering this career path, there are a few things you need to know. The first one is that you may encounter disturbing or upsetting incidents and will need to be able to focus on your work, despite difficult circumstances.

You will need a careful and systematic approach to your work and strong analytical skills to work as a crime scene investigator.

Drug Enforcement Administration Agent

Average annual income: $77,210

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Drug enforcement administration (DEA) agents can be either special agents or diversion investigators.

DEA Special Agents

The responsibilities for DEA special agents include:

  • Conducting criminal investigations
  • Monitoring criminal activity related to drugs
  • Identifying and infiltrating drug channels
  • Identifying and apprehending drug traffickers
  • Preparing evidence for the prosecution of criminals

Diversion Investigators

Diversion investigators conduct investigations involving the illicit sale and abuse of controlled substances.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Performing investigative work
  • Gathering data
  • Researching and analyzing data
  • Identifying the significance of data
  • Developing proper solutions to fight against drug-related crimes

Working as a special agent or diversion investigator requires analytical thinking. You would need to gather comprehensive research and use intuitive thinking to develop proper evidence that can be used in a court of law.

Homicide Detective

Homicide investigator collecting evidence at a crime scene.

Average annual income: $99, 500

Homicide detectives form a crucial part of any police department and are employed by local, state, or federal agencies. They rely on communication skills and inductive reasoning to solve cases involving homicide.

Some detectives work on new cases. Others attempt to solve cases that have been re-opened or that have gone cold.

The responsibilities of a homicide detective include:

  • Gathering sufficient evidence
  • Processing crime scenes where homicide is suspected
  • Interviewing witnesses, friends, and family
  • Sorting out witness statements
  • Conducting comprehensive research
  • Apprehending suspects or persons of interest
  • Preparing evidence to use in a court of law
  • Testifying at trials

These professionals need to possess logical thinking capabilities and use evidence to draw well-formulated conclusions. They work with other professionals, such as criminal profilers, to build a complete psychological and physical description of suspects.

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Jail Screening Officer

Jail screening officers interrogating the inmate.

Average annual income: $41,000

A Screening Officer is responsible for interviewing, investigating, and preparing risk assessments for defendants who are scheduled to appear in a court of law.

The responsibilities of a pretrial or jail screening officer include:

  • Interviewing incarcerated persons
  • Gathering and documenting social backgrounds
  • Verifying information
  • Preparing risk assessments
  • Ensuring document processing is done properly
  • Completing special projects

The skills and abilities required to work in this field include maintaining good public relations as a court representative, good interrogation or interviewing skills, working with demanding clients, and maintaining confidentiality.

Probation Officer

Probation officer interrogating a criminal in the investigation room.

Average annual income: $54,050

Probation Officers supervise convicted criminals who are on parole or probation rather than being sentenced to prison. These professionals maintain communication between and the offender in question, as well as the offender’s family members, to make sure that they are not violating the terms of their probation.

The responsibilities of a probation officer include:

  • Supervising and disciplining criminal offenders
  • Recommending rehabilitation programs
  • Conducting drug tests
  • Monitoring the location of their clients

Parole and probation officers should have good communication and relationship skills in order to establish a good level of trust between them and the offenders, as well as the offender’s family. They need to have compassion but the ability to also separate their relationship with the offenders from their professional duties.

Narcotics Officer

Narcotics officer with dog checking luggage in airport.

Average annual income: $77,210

Narcotics Officers work to prevent the selling, distribution, and use of controlled substances. This includes investigations into drug trafficking and possession of illegal drugs. They make use of K9 units and wiretaps to gain information in order to build a proper case against those involved in illegal drug activity.

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The responsibilities of a narcotics officer include:

  • Investigating and enforcing drug-related laws
  • Serving warrants
  • Apprehending suspects
  • Prosecuting offenders
  • Testifying in court

There are certain personality traits that will make a person a good candidate for this line of work. These include being honest and having integrity, being accountable and dedicated, and the ability to remain professional at all times.

Narcotics officers also have to be able to work well in a team setting, as they will be working with other professionals constantly.

State Trooper

Back profile of state officer monitoring at a football game.

Average annual income: $58,320

State troopers are committed to enforcing driving and safety laws on local or state roads.

The responsibilities of a state trooper include:

  • Monitoring roads and highways
  • Issuing traffic citations and tickets
  • Assisting in motorcycle and vehicular accidents.
  • Controlling spending on roads
  • Identifying possibly intoxicated drivers
  • Responding to reports of civil disorders
  • Preventing disturbances and riots

These professionals should have the ability to pay attention to detail, work long hours, and have a passion for maintaining order and protecting the citizens of the state.

If you’re considering this as a career option, you should note that you will be working long hours, and there are sometimes minimum age requirements to be a state trooper.

Youth Correctional Officer

Average annual income: $54, 080

Youth Correctional Counselors work closely with young law offenders who are in juvenile correctional facilities to help them transition into productive members of society and to prevent repeat offenses.

The responsibilities of a youth correctional officer include:

  • Counseling juvenile offenders 
  • Enforcing discipline
  • Making and maintaining records
  • Implementing constructive activity programs
  • Making recommendations as to the appropriate destination for an offender
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These professionals should have a passion for working with the young citizens who have violated the law and be committed to the education and rehabilitation of these juveniles.

They should have some background knowledge of the young mind and should express genuine care for the futures of these children.

Criminal Justice Instructor

Average annual income: $64,460

Criminal Justice Instructors teach a variety of subjects surrounding law enforcement and leading issues within the justice system.

The responsibilities of criminal justice instructors include:

  • Delivering lectures and presentations
  • Leading discussions
  • Grading tests and assignments
  • Ensuring their students receive beneficial and relevant education
  • Planning coursework

Criminal justice instructors are employed to work at Criminal Justice Departments at tertiary educational institutes. They should be punctual, prepared, and well-spoken.

If you are considering this career, you should realize that excellent organizational skills are needed, as well as the skill of being able to convey information to students effectively.

Fingerprint Technician

Fingerprint technician with gloves using fingerprint instant lifters.

Average annual income: $56,320

Fingerprint Technicians work in forensic labs and police departments. They are crucial members of any investigative team as their work can help the team to identify suspects based on their findings.

The responsibilities of a fingerprint technician include:

  • collecting fingerprints from a crime scene or from police
  • examining the fingerprints and determining a list of suspects
  • analyzing fingerprints that have been left behind at crime scenes

These professionals should have in-depth knowledge in order to collect, examine and analyze the delicate fingerprint samples correctly. They should be precise, organized individuals.

Fingerprint technicians are required to be able to collaborate with other professionals.

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Deputy Sheriff

Deputy sheriff facing the patrol car.

Average annual income: $60,270

The duty of a Deputy Sheriff is to ensure and enforce law and order with the aim of protecting property and citizens.

The responsibilities of a deputy sheriff include

  • Making arrests
  • Interviewing witnesses and victims
  • Questioning suspects
  • Collecting and filing evidence
  • Testifying in court
  • Ensure the courtroom is peaceful and professional 

Deputy Sheriffs use various communications equipment such as radios and cellphones to report and respond to emergency calls. They’ll also patrol the highways and county roads to make sure everyone is obeying set speed limits and other traffic regulations. Deputy Sheriffs serve individuals’ court paperwork.

In order to make a good deputy sheriff, a person should possess the following qualities or abilities:

  • Physical strength for self-defense
  • Physical stamina and endurance
  • Perceptiveness
  • Leadership skills
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Problem-solving skills

Is Criminal Justice A Good Degree To Have?

In general, earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice may lead to a variety of fascinating job options. Your criminal justice experience can prepare you for law school and a career as an attorney, as well as positions in law enforcement, prisons, rehabilitative services, and other public service professions.

The skills and information obtained from a criminal justice degree are also beneficial to social workers, forensic scientists, and professional educators.

It might be challenging to pursue a career in criminal justice. Law enforcement officials, for example, are frequently expected to have a high level of physical fitness and strength. Furthermore, suppose you are not prepared to take on these difficulties. In that case, the stress associated with making life-or-death decisions or providing rehabilitative services to juveniles or other individuals in need can cause emotional stress.

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Empathy and quick, accurate reactions might also be essential for success in this high-demand and diverse industry.

Conclusion


Professionals in the criminal justice field must be able to think quickly on their feet and be willing to take on a range of difficulties. This industry is seen to be more intellectually and emotionally demanding than others, with higher risks and expectations; these jobs provide gratifying challenges that keep the job interesting.

Whether you pick forensic science or police work as a career, you’ll be putting your problem-solving abilities to the test and using your brain on a daily basis.

References:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Lawyers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Police and Detectives

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Forensic Science Technicians

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Private Detectives and Investigators

National American University: Why Criminal Justice Is a Good Career Choice

Indeed: What is a Criminal Profiler? Key Job Duties and Skills

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