Earning a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in criminal justice can prepare you for many exciting careers. Graduates can pursue high-level jobs with police forces, federal agencies and private companies or work in a freelance, contractor capacity.
The comprehensive nature of programs like the online B.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI) adds further versatility to such a degree. Courses in business communications provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue careers with law enforcement agencies and manage public relations and outreach. Yet, such studies are equally applicable to managerial roles in an organization’s security department.
Further, UMPI’s unique criminal justice program emphasizes sociology, ethics, psychology, theoretical criminology and restorative justice practices. These studies can help law enforcement professionals be leaders in driving positive change and criminal justice reform.
Here are five of the many exciting job options for criminal justice majors.
Becoming a detective (or criminal investigator) is a logical progression for police officers with experience and education in advanced criminology and investigative practices. Detectives investigate crimes from start to finish, gathering evidence, researching the case, conducting interviews, surveilling suspects and preparing cases for courts.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), detectives and criminal investigators’ median annual salary in 2019 was $83,170.
Probation / Parole Officer
Probation and parole officers provide and oversee social and rehabilitative services for law offenders sentenced to probation instead of prison time (community-based sentencing) or on parole following a prison sentence. Job duties involve conducting interviews with probationers, parolees and their communities to monitor and assess the law offender’s progress and ensure they are not a danger to the community.
It also involves providing the probationer or parolee with resources like job training and substance abuse counseling. The intent is to protect the community while reducing the potential for recidivism and helping the law offender rehabilitate successfully. Probation and parole officers can play important roles in restorative justice and the prevention of cyclic incarceration.
The BLS reports that the 2019 median pay for probation and parole officers was $54,290 per year.
Security managers ensure the safety and security of an organization’s assets, staff and patrons. They implement safety protocols, manage budgets and institute training programs for staff. They are also responsible for maintaining compliance with laws relevant to security department functions.
Security managers make an average salary of roughly $70,000, according to 2021 data from PayScale.
Executive Protection Agent
Sometimes known as bodyguards or personal security guards, these professionals may work independently on a contract basis or serve individuals or security firms. As the title implies, they provide protective services to clients, ensuring personal safety.
ZipRecruiter places the average salary for executive protection agents at $76,000 per year (as of March 2021). Yet, according to Chron, independent executive protection professionals may charge a daily rate of $350 to $700, equating to the potential for much higher annual earnings.
Federal Law Enforcement Agent / Investigator
The criminal justice major has many options for work in federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S. Marshals Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Secret Service. Positions may focus on investigative duties and criminology (the FBI), the protection of elected officials (the Secret Service), the operations of the CIA or any other aspect of safeguarding the U.S., its citizens and its resources.
Federal job compensation is generally based on the Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) pay scale or the General Schedule (GS) pay scale. Federal job pay for criminal justice majors varies based on several criteria: position, educational attainment, experience, time on the job and promotions. The more selective agencies, like the FBI and the CIA, require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.
Many viable job opportunities exist for holders of a B.A. in criminal justice. Students can further take advantage of general education courses and electives to specialize their criminal justice studies in their pursuit of unique careers in areas like forensic science or crime scene investigations. For those interested in law enforcement and criminal justice, the career possibilities afforded by this type of degree program are vast indeed.
Learn more about UMPI’s online B.A. in Criminal Justice program.