Criminal justice degrees are popular with undergraduate students because they learn transferable skills that qualify them to work in many different areas of the criminal justice system. Career options include law enforcement, corrections, and the private sector.

A criminal justice graduate may eventually work in a crime lab or as a police detective. Other opportunities include working for a private company focused on loss prevention or as a fish and game warden. The versatility of the degree is one of its main attractions. 

Whatever criminal justice job graduates choose, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice provides them with the skills and knowledge they need to take on leadership positions and prepare them for the most challenging jobs in the criminal justice field.

Why Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice?

An online criminal justice degree program gives students the flexibility to earn a degree while working in their current jobs. For professionals already working in criminal justice, the degree program prepares them to take the next step up the organizational ladder.

Another advantage is stability in a criminal justice career. The online job site Monster writes that criminal justice careers “offer you a certain sense of job security—after all, justice always needs to be served.”

While a college degree is not a requirement for some law enforcement jobs, that is increasingly the case, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The federal agency reports that some federal law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, require a bachelor’s degree. Fish and game wardens also need a bachelor’s degree.

A criminal justice bachelor’s degree provides graduates:

  • A wide variety of career options
  • Job stability
  • Competitive salaries
  • Generous job benefits and retirement plans
  • Strong job satisfaction

Criminal Justice Careers and Salaries

What jobs can you pursue with a criminal justice degree? Graduates enjoy many different options. The jobs below reflect the variety of careers. All salary figures come from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Unless otherwise noted, the salaries are the national average annual salary.

Police Officer

Salary: $70,000

Police officers protect the public from criminals and keep them safe in natural disasters. Officers work for a city, while sheriff’s deputies work for a county and troopers work for a state. They typically spend their workday patrolling a designated district, keeping watch for criminal activity, and staying on-call to respond to 9-1-1 calls in their area.

Private Detective

Salary: $60,000

Private detectives work outside official law enforcement agencies, hired by private individuals or companies to investigate issues such as insurance fraud. They need the crime-solving skills of police detectives but also enough business knowledge to run their own company. Many have a background working in local, state, or federal law enforcement.

Fish and Game Warden

Salary: $57,810

For those who prefer working outdoors, a criminal justice degree can help them qualify as fish and game wardens. They typically work on public lands owned by the state or federal government. They ensure that wildlife and habitats are protected, and visitors are safe on public lands.

Probation Officer

Salary: $61,900

Probation officers work with convicted criminals to help them rehabilitate and return to society. They work with those currently in custody or released on probation. They may help develop rehabilitation plans for individual criminals and connect them to resources that support their reentry into society.

Homeland Security

Salary: Varies depending on the position.

There are many different career paths within Homeland Security. The federal department was created after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC on Sept. 11, 2001. The BLS provides detailed information about the many different careers within the department. They include:

  • Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Customs and Border Protection
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
  • Office of the Inspector General
  • Transportation and Security Administration

What Students Learn in a BS in Criminal Justice Program

Students in a criminal justice program learn skills and knowledge that give them an edge on the competition for the best criminal justice jobs, especially jobs that do not strictly require a bachelor’s degree. The availability of online degree programs also makes it easier than ever for working adults to earn a degree while maintaining their current job.

The online criminal justice degree program from Northern Michigan Global Campus offers a curriculum that focuses on a wide variety of criminal justice topics. They include:

  • Introduction to Policing
  • Introduction to Corrections
  • Introduction to Criminal Courts
  • Criminology
  • Criminal Investigation
  • Use of Force and Less Lethal Weapons
  • Legal Issues in Corrections
  • Investigative Interviewing and Interrogation
  • Community-Based Corrections
  • American Street Gangs

A bachelor’s degree opens the door to the best jobs in whatever criminal justice career graduates decide to pursue. Few degrees better prepare professionals to excel in so many different lines of work.