Career Salary Overview

Criminologist $80K
Probation Officer $60K
Criminal Investigator $90K
Information Security Analyst $100K
Paralegal $60K
Loss Prevention Manager $50K
Correctional Counselor $50K
Policy Analyst $110K
Statistician $90K
FBI Intelligence Analyst $70K
CIA Counterterrorism Analyst $70K
40K60K80K100K120K

Career Opportunities

Many careers in criminal justice do not require a master’s degree for entry, but earning one may substitute for experience or make it easier to be promoted. Be aware that some positions also require specialized skills and higher education in fields such as sociology or psychology.


What can I do with a master's in criminal justice?

After graduating from a MCJ program, you’ll be able to:

  • Effectively manage personnel and allocate resources
  • Devise creative solutions for modern crime and justice issues
  • Consider diversity and multicultural perspectives when making decisions
  • Evaluate research in public safety
  • Safeguard human rights
  • Collaborate with coworkers and the community toward common goals

Since many of the careers in the field involve working with people in tense situations, you’ll heavily rely on interpersonal skills you’ve learned, such as:

  • Communication Skills
  • Active listening
  • Negotiation
  • Persuasion
  • Social Skills
  • Instruction
  • Leadership
  • Perceptiveness
  • Monitoring
  • Verbal de-escalation
  • Ethics

Criminologist

Criminologists are sociologists that analyze crime, criminals, criminal behavior and corrections. In order to become a criminologist, you’ll need education in both sociology and criminal justice, along with a graduate degree in criminology or criminal justice. If interested in advancing to academic settings, it’s necessary to earn a doctorate. It’s common for criminologists to work in university settings teaching subjects like juvenile justice, corrections, drug addiction, criminal ethnography, macro-level models of criminal behavior or victimology.

At their core, criminologists are researchers of sociological and psychological issues related to crime. When working in law enforcement or as a consultant, criminologists examine evidence, psychological and hereditary causes of crime, methods of investigation and the efficiencies of punishment and rehabilitation. A similar job is that of the profiler, who develops detailed profiles of crimes or criminals through advanced statistical analysis.


$78,810 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Conduct scientific research on specific cases and the criminal justice system
  • Develop ways to prevent criminal behavior
  • Compile statistics and identify patterns
  • Interview criminals
  • Work with law enforcement, community leaders and politicians to develop policies
  • Act as an expert witness

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. Pennsylvania$98,840
  2. Massachusetts$91,070
  3. California$86,500
  4. New York$75,910
  5. Texas$37,830

Job Numbers by State

  1. California540
  2. New York430
  3. Massachusetts130
  4. Pennsylvania130
  5. Texas100

Work Environment

  • Office
  • University classroom
  • Consulting firm
  • Crime scenes

Education Required

Criminologists are required to have at least a Bachelor’s in criminal justice, sociology or psychology but may earn up to a Ph.D in criminology or sociology.

Specializations and Certifications

Criminologists specialize in age groups, specific crimes, corrections, criminal rehabilitation and investigation, crime prevention and correctional facility privatization. They may develop specialized skills in research, victim advocacy, evidence analysis and forensic technology.

Career Path

Criminologists may advance to work as policy advisors for state and federal agencies. With additional experience and education, they may start their own consulting businesses or work as researchers or educators at universities.


Probation Officer

Probation officers work with offenders that have been granted probation in lieu of jail time. Typically, probation officers may work with adults or juveniles but not both. Tasks performed by officers include verifying offenders’ employment and residence, conducting offender background investigations and maintaining records. If interested in pursuing this job, consider taking courses in theories of crime prevention, criminal justice ethics or juvenile delinquency. Positions include parole officer and correctional treatment specialist.


$53,360 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Write reports on criminals to help judge or courts decide sentencing
  • Develop and implement rehabilitation plans
  • Visit offenders at home and at work
  • Supply counseling referrals
  • Oversee drug tests and electronic monitoring

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. California$78,060
  2. New York$66,270
  3. Pennsylvania$51,670
  4. Texas$42,050
  5. Florida$39,790

Job Numbers by State

  1. California12,260
  2. Texas7,350
  3. New York4,370
  4. Florida4,200
  5. Pennsylvania4,080

Work Environment

  • Fieldwork in high-crime areas
  • Institutions with risk of violence

Education Required

Probation officers must have a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, behavioral science, social work or a related field. A Master’s in criminal justice or a related field is required at many positions to advance to supervisory roles; federal parole officers must have a graduate level education.

Specializations and Certifications

Some states, like California, require specific certifications be earned or training completed within the first year of employment. California requires the Standards and Training for Corrections (STC) be completed to work as a Deputy Probation Officer. Requirements in other states vary.

Career Path

Experienced parole officers may advance to supervisory positions such as Senior Probation Officer, Probation Specialist or Senior Supervisor.


Criminal Investigator

Criminal Investigators can work for local, state or federal law enforcement agencies. Typically, investigators look for evidence, prepare reports about criminal activity and question suspected criminals, crime victims and witnesses. Less frequent duties include conducting surveillance and testifying in court. Investigators need previous law enforcement experience before advancing to the role. It’s common for investigators to be armed due to the high risk for personal injury on the job. Similar positions include crime analysts and private detectives.


$80,540 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Collect evidence
  • Interview witnesses
  • Testify in court
  • Process crime scenes
  • Prepare investigative reports
  • Analyze laboratory findings

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. California$98,940
  2. New York$88,280
  3. Arizona$84,730
  4. Texas$77,630
  5. Florida$73,670

Job Numbers by State

  1. Texas16,630
  2. California11,830
  3. New York10,400
  4. Florida7,030
  5. Arizona6,130

Work Environment

  • Local, state or federal law enforcement agencies
  • Crime scenes
  • Laboratories

Education Required

Criminal Investigators must have a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field to work at the state or federal level; some agencies require a Master’s degree to advance.

Specializations and Certifications

Investigators may specialize in crime scene examination, fire and arson investigation or cold case investigations and forensics. Credentials that may be obtained include the ASIS Professional Certified Investigator, Certified Criminal Investigator and IAI Crime Scene Certification.

Career Path

Investigators may become corporals, sergeants, lieutenants or captains. They may be promoted to specialized positions within the criminal investigator role, such as working with juveniles.


Information Security Analyst

Information security analysts bridge the fields of criminal justice and computer science by protecting organizations’ data and information from attacks. They also prevent data loss, stay up to date on hackers’ methodologies and prevent service interruptions.

The demand for information security analysts has increased in response to the rise of technology. In order to enter this exciting field, those with a background in criminal justice will need to attain further education in computer science or computer engineering. The more training and advanced education you have in this area, the more likely you’ll be to find employment as an information security analyst.


$91,600 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Assess and test your company’s network security
  • Design solutions for weak or exposed areas
  • Implement network disaster recovery plans
  • Perform risk assessments
  • Install firewalls and data encryption
  • Train staff on information security procedures

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. New York$111,970
  2. California$106,200
  3. Virginia$104,700
  4. Texas$89,410
  5. Florida$82,610

Job Numbers by State

  1. Virginia10,270
  2. California7,700
  3. Texas6,170
  4. New York4,760
  5. Florida3,790

Work Environment

  • IT service providers
  • Banking and financial services
  • Healthcare companies
  • Private companies
  • Government agencies

Education Required

A bachelor’s in criminal justice, computer science or computer engineering is required to become an Information Security Analyst; some positions require a Master’s in Information Systems.

Specializations and Certifications

Information Security Analysts may focus on risk assessment, vulnerability assessment and defense planning; further specializations exist within the military. Professionals can become Certified Information Security Professionals or Certified Information Security Managers.

Career Path

Information security analysts may advance to become Information Security Managers or Information Security Officers.


Paralegal

Paralegals are qualified professionals who perform substantive and procedural law work to support attorneys. Generally, paralegals help lawyers build cases by identifying relevant laws and judicial decisions. Similar job titles include legal assistants and legal secretaries.


$51,840 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Research cases
  • Prepare legal documents
  • Organize and catalog all trial documents
  • Draft legal contracts
  • Manage the administration of the law office
  • Analyze and organize data
  • Write summaries

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. California$60,940
  2. New York$56,200
  3. Texas$51,850
  4. Illinois$49,020
  5. Florida$48,690

Job Numbers by State

  1. California30,060
  2. Florida23,000
  3. New York22,660
  4. Texas21,370
  5. Illinois12,070

Work Environment

  • Public and private secondary schools
  • Colleges and universities
  • Career and technical schools
  • Government offices
  • Educational and social support services
  • Private practice
  • Corporate human resources

Education Required

Some employers require bachelor's degrees in subjects such as criminal justice. A Master's degree in criminal justice increases opportunities for advancement.

Specializations and Certifications

Paralegals may specialize within criminal law, family law, corporate law, immigration law or labor law, among others. Possible certifications include the NALA Advanced Paralegal Certification and the NFPA Paralegal Certification.

Career Path

Paralegals may become senior, lead or specialists with certification. With a law degree, they may become attorneys.


Loss Prevention Manager

Loss prevention managers minimize risk and shrinkage for retail sectors. Typically, professionals in this role have previous experience working in retail management or in law enforcement. Other than managing the security of inventory, loss prevention managers are also responsible for the safety of customers and employees. In instances of burglaries, loss prevention managers handle the investigative interviews. Education in criminal justice is preferred for those is in this position, but a master’s degree isn’t required. However, it can help those hoping to advance in their career and may also substitute for lack of experience.


$44,675 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Develop and implement procedures for minimizing loss of merchandise
  • Formulate plans for customer and employee safety
  • Design emergency procedures and test alarm systems
  • Monitor video surveillance
  • Investigate and respond to burglary incidents
  • Research, assess and supervise installation of different security measures
  • Determine necessary security force; hire and train new officers
  • File reports and company policy documentation

Work Environment

  • Retail

Education Required

A Bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field is usually required; a Master's degree in criminal justice may be beneficial for career advancement.

Specializations and Certifications

Loss prevention managers can become WZ Certified by taking either the Two Day Private Sector Course or the Three Day Public Sector Course. The Certified Forensic Interviewer certification sets the standard for certifying expertise in interview and interrogation techniques for loss prevention managers.

Career Path

Loss prevention managers may advance to become Regional Managers of Loss Prevention or District Manager of Loss Prevention Investigators. With experience, they may advance to become a Director of Loss Prevention.


Correctional Counselor

Correctional counselors work to rehabilitate inmates prior to their release. This involves providing them with counseling, designing custom treatment plans and helping them adjust to their new lives. The fields of criminal justice, psychology and social work meld in this role. Similar position titles include correctional treatment specialist and case manager.


$43,990 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Interview inmates and their families
  • Conduct psychological evaluations
  • Design educational or job training programs
  • Provide anger management, substance abuse or sexual abuse counseling
  • Assess risk of inmates being rearrested

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. California$46,290
  2. Virginia$46,000
  3. Pennsylvania$43,150
  4. New York$41,700
  5. Massachusetts$40,620

Job Numbers by State

  1. Pennsylvania11,160
  2. California11,100
  3. Virginia8,060
  4. Massachusetts7,900
  5. New York5,690

Work Environment

  • Parole Agencies
  • Probation offices
  • Jails
  • Prisons

Education Required

A Bachelor's in criminal justice, social work or psychology is required; in some cases, a Master's degree in criminal justice may be needed.

Specializations and Certifications

Specializations include substance abuse or juvenile rehabilitation. Correctional counselors with master's degrees can become Clinically Certified Forensic Counselors.

Career Path

Counselors can advance to several different levels within their position or to supervisory roles.


Policy Analyst

Policy Analysts develop legislative and administrative policy based on analysis of behavioral health and criminal justice data. Qualitative and quantitative research and data interpretation play large roles in their work. Continued development of knowledge of criminal justice dynamics, criminal case processing, prison population projections, and corrections best practices is expected.


$104,000 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Study, investigate and analyze policies
  • Collect and interpret data
  • Present and defend findings to groups
  • Conduct cost benefit analysis
  • Propose new policies
  • Consider unintended consequences

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. Virginia$118,080
  2. Washington D.C.$111,420
  3. Maryland$102,830
  4. California$71,030
  5. Texas$70,460

Job Numbers by State

  1. Washington D.C.3,250
  2. Virginia910
  3. California330
  4. Texas270
  5. Maryland130

Work Environment

  • Government offices
  • Lobbying groups
  • Nonprofit organizations

Education Required

A Bachelor's degree is required; generally a Master's in a specialization such as criminal justice is also needed.

Specializations and Certifications

Policy analysts may apply to become Certified in Public Policy by the Academy of Certified Political Analysts.

Career Path

Policy analysts may advance from policy and planning specialists to policy and planning managers or supervisors.


Statistician

Statisticians use advanced statistical knowledge to build the data infrastructures that support the ability to provide evidence-based approaches to addressing crime and criminal justice issues. This is achieved by determining type and size of sample groups to survey, instructing data gatherers to collect the information and then analyzing, interpreting and summarizing the results using software.


$84,010 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Initiate, formulate, plan and execute statistical series or programs related to corrections, courts and judicial processes.
  • Analyze data and report statistical information on crime, offenders, victims and the operations of justice systems at all levels of government
  • Enhance dissemination of statistical information to a variety of audiences

Salary and Employment Expectations

Best Paying States

  1. California$103,590
  2. Maryland$98,400
  3. Massachusetts$86,940
  4. New York$77,600
  5. Pennsylvania$77,480

Job Numbers by State

  1. Maryland2,910
  2. California2,680
  3. Massachusetts2,310
  4. Pennsylvania1,990
  5. New York1,280

Work Environment

  • Government agencies
  • Research institutions
  • Private industry

Education Required

A Bachelor's degree with training in math and statistics is required. In many cases, a Master's degree with training in statistics and criminal justice is also required.

Specializations and Certifications

Statisticians may apply to become an Accredited Professional Statistician by the American Statistical Association.

Career Path

Statisticians may advance to senior or supervisory roles.


FBI Intelligence Analyst

FBI Intelligence Analysts collect, evaluate and process intelligence from various channels like human intelligence, other intelligence agencies, criminal investigations, interrogations or electronic and internet surveillance. Three tracks are available to IA’s: tactical, collection and reporting or strategic. Each type of analyst evaluates and repackages data, but the reports they produce are meant for different purposes.


$70,000 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Retrieve information secured on information systems
  • Develop both immediate and long term responses to intelligence
  • Produce reports and studies
  • Assist operational personnel in investigations and national security strategies
  • Cultivate intelligence assets
  • Train other intelligence officers
  • Assess missions, plans and personnel
  • Analyze bureau operations to identify inefficiencies and liabilities
  • Question suspects for intelligence
  • Maintain awareness of threats domestically and abroad

Work Environment

  • FBI Headquarters
  • Field offices
  • Legal attaché offices

Education Required

A Bachelor's degree in a relevant field is required but it's possible to enter at a higher level with a master's degree in criminal justice

Specializations and Certifications

Intelligence analysts may specialize in one of the three distinct analytic areas: strategic, tactical or collection/reporting.

Career Path

Experienced intelligence analysts may advance to intermediate and advanced positions such as supervisory intelligence analysts and senior intelligence officers.


CIA Counterterrorism Analyst

Counterterrorism analysts work within the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center to assess the intentions and motivations of foreign terrorist organizations. It’s their job to preempt attacks and disrupt terrorist networks. Analysts study and evaluate information from sources such as foreign newspapers, foreign broadcasts, human intelligence and satellite surveillance. Key skills of counterterrorism analysts include the ability to take conflicting or incomplete information and develop meaningful intelligence and proficiency in one or more foreign languages.


$70,000 Average Salary

Major Responsibilities

  • Analyze information on terrorist groups
  • Write intelligence reports
  • Brief US policymakers and foreign partners
  • Highlight counterterrorism targeting opportunities

Work Environment

  • CIA Counterterrorism Center
  • Offices of foreign liaison partners

Education Required

A Bachelor's degree in a related field (international affairs, etc) with regional expertise is required but a Master's degree in criminal justice is highly beneficial.

Specializations and Certifications

Analysts may specialize in region, such as South Asia or the Middle East.

Career Path

Experienced analysts may advance to supervisory roles.