Too many people look at a criminal justice degree online as only a precursor to law school. While you can move on to law school after earning a criminal justice degree, the degree does open the door to a number of other job opportunities. Here are four of highest paying criminal justice careers aside from lawyer and becoming a typical beat cop.
Private Investigators and Detectives
Private investigators and detectives can earn up to six figures and the higher pay is reserved for those with a college degree versus someone who read a few books and hopes to imitate the characters out of mystery novels. Some private investigators work for law enforcement while others work for private individuals and attorneys seeking evidence of infidelity, fraud, or other evidence of wrongdoing. When your day could include taking pictures of someone playing sports after filing for medical disability or finding out if the potential cheat is really working late every night, you get to earn a decent living with far less risk than you’d be taking working as a police officer.
Not all criminal investigation jobs require following suspects whether for private clients or government agencies. For example, fire investigators earn around sixty thousand a year determining the cause of major fires, while forensic accountants earn sixty-five thousand a year or more to determine whether someone is cooking the books.
Forensic psychologists typically earn a clinical psychology degree in addition to their criminal justice degree. They often work with police to determine why someone committed a crime or try to rehabilitate criminals prior to release. Witness and victim counseling are also regularly performed by forensic psychologists.
You need at least a two-year degree in criminal justice to become a police officer in most states, but that isn’t the only law enforcement job open to those with a criminal justice degree. Corrections officers earn around $42,000 a year, but more if they work in high-security facilities or do significant overtime. If you’re willing to work out in the wild, game wardens earn fifty to sixty thousand dollars per year. If you work for customs and immigration enforcement, you’ll earn around seventy thousand dollars a year.
When you get tired of working in law enforcement and move over to the security management of a large facility, you could earn up to seventy thousand dollars a year. A masters in criminal justice degree increases the odds you’ll qualify for such a management position, and you can earn it through an online masters in criminal justice.
Judges and Mediators
In most states, you must have worked as an attorney before you become a judge. In states like Texas, a criminal justice degree puts you in the prime position for being elected judge even if you haven’t gone to law school. In any case, judges often earn more than a hundred thousand dollars a year. If you don’t want to sit on the bench, remember that you could qualify for work as a private dispute mediator without having to wear the formal black robes. Private mediators such as those working for private companies can earn as much as a judge.
Criminal justice is a high-paying career, so it is well worth pursuing.