The demand for criminal justice professionals has been increasing rapidly in recent years.
Criminal justice occupations are available at all levels of government, including the federal, state, county, and local governments and in the private sector.
Whether you’re looking to further your criminal justice career or discover new employment in the sector, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to get the facts about Criminal justice jobs and salaries in 2022. We’ll tell you what positions are available, average starting salaries, possible job growth and more.
The job outlook is positive for people with criminal justice degrees
Criminal justice degree is the best option if you want to become a detective, crime investigator or police officer. The number of job positions in the criminal justice field is increasing day by day. This means that there are plenty of opportunities for anyone who wants to work in the criminal justice department.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 3 million criminal justice jobs in 2021. That number has constantly been growing and is expected to grow by 7% through 2024, which is faster than average for all occupations. Some of that growth will be due to an increase in crime rates, but much will come from the increasing number of incarcerated people.
As of May 2021, the average yearly wage for a criminal justice employee was around $66,020 per year and $31.74 per hour.
The BLS also predicts that another 2 million prisoners will be added over the next decade as state and federal prisons deal with overcrowding and budget constraints. This trend will create an even greater demand for corrections officers and other correctional staff members who work with inmates daily.
This increase in new job opportunities reflects the growing population of inmates in prisons and jails, resulting from stricter local, state and federal criminal justice policies.
Additionally, as the population grows, people are also being convicted at a higher rate than ever before, which means more new people are entering the correctional system each year.
When people leave prison or jail after serving their sentence, they often have a harder time finding work because of their criminal record. This leads them back into crime and puts them back in prison again—and so on, and so on!
And it’s not just those who commit crimes who need help; police departments need help processing all of the cases coming through their doors every day too!
The increased number of crimes, arrests and convictions means that more people are under the supervision of the criminal justice system.
As a result, law enforcement agencies across the country are hiring more officers to process these cases. In addition, prisons need more guards and administrators as they deal with increasing populations behind bars.
Check our article on accelerated degrees in criminal justice.
What is criminal justice?
According to Cornell Law School, criminal justice is the study of the criminal process. It involves understanding how laws are enforced, how criminals are identified and processed by law enforcement agencies and courts, and what happens to them after they’re convicted.
It involves various agencies, including police departments, courts, prisons and corrections facilities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), criminal justice professionals perform many functions within their jobs, including:
- Collecting evidence at crime scenes
- Investigating crimes by interviewing witnesses and suspects
- Controlling crime scenes by documenting evidence found there
- Interrogating suspects during investigations to obtain information about crimes they may have committed
To become a criminal justice professional, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in C.J. or one of its subfields such as forensic science or homeland security.
You can also get specialized training through certificates, master’s degrees and PhD programs that focus on specific aspects of law enforcement like forensics or intelligence analysis.
Criminal Justice Education
Criminal justice education is a broad term that includes any educational program that prepares students to work in the criminal justice system. Criminal justice degrees are available at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with some universities offering a certificate or diploma in criminal justice as well.
Criminal justice students learn the laws and procedures governing law enforcement and the courts, as well as how to investigate crimes, gather evidence and write reports. Courses in these programs may include:
Criminal Law: Students learn about statutes governing various crimes and how they are prosecuted. They also learn about constitutional rights and how they apply to criminal cases.
Police Science: Students learn about policing methods, including traffic stops and patrol procedures. They also study constitutional law related to searches and seizures, arrest procedures and control tactics used by police officers.
Correctional Science: Students learn about prisons, jails and other correctional facilities through classroom instruction and hands-on experience in mock jails or prison cells equipped with cameras to record their reactions when confronted with inmates who act out during training sessions.
Forensic Science: Courses cover topics such as trace evidence analysis (such as fingerprints), DNA testing techniques, ballistics analysis (shotgun shells) and fingerprint analysis techniques used by forensic scientists to identify criminals through their biological evidence left at crime scenes.
Criminology: Criminology is the study of crime and criminals. Students who choose this area will learn about factors that contribute to criminal behavior as well as current methods for preventing crime using both traditional and non-traditional methods like rehabilitation programs or drug courts.
Juvenile Justice: This area focuses on young offenders (juveniles) who have committed crimes and their subsequent treatment by law enforcement agencies.
Criminal Justice Education Programs and Salary Outlook
Programs in criminal justice are offered at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s levels. Some schools offer joint bachelor’s-master’s programs or other combined degrees that allow students to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years instead of six. These options may be particularly useful for students who plan to continue their education with a doctoral program.
Criminal Justice Certificate
Criminal justice certificates are specialized postsecondary awards that typically require the completion of a single course of study. Community colleges and vocational schools often offer them to prepare students for entry-level law enforcement or corrections positions. As you can imagine, the curriculum is heavily focused on practical applications of criminal justice knowledge and skills.
Criminal justice professionals with a certificate can earn between $30,000 and $44,000 per year as a starting salary.
Online Certificate in Criminal Justice
Here’s a quick roundup of the best Criminal Justice certificates available online.
|Purdue university global||$371 per credit|
|Ohio state university||Total cost to completion |
Ohio Residents -$12,022.50
Non-Ohio Residents -$12,622.50
|Portland state university||$279 per credit|
|Blue ridge community college||N.C. Resident -$76 per semester hour |
Non-resident- $268 per semester hour
|Wayne community college||In-state – $1262 |
Out-of-state – $4,334.00
Associate Degree Programs
Criminal justice associate degree programs are typically designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs in law enforcement or corrections agencies. Associate degrees may also be helpful for those who wish to transfer into four-year bachelor’s degree programs later on. Associate degree programs typically require 60 credits of coursework and include classes such as:
· Criminal Law
· Law Enforcement Management
· Corrections Management
Criminal justice professionals with an associate’s degree can earn between $30,000 and $97,000 per year as a starting salary.
Here are some online Associate degree programs and their tuition.
|Pierce College||$2,806 (resident)|
$20,008 (out of state)
|Pamlico Community College||$3648 (resident) |
$12864 (out of state)
|Trine University||$3000 (resident) |
$9500 (out of state)
|Regent University||$4,740 Average Tuition Per Semester|
Bachelor Degree Programs
Bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice offer more advanced training than associate degrees do and prepare graduates for a wider range of career opportunities within the field.
You’ll need at least 120 credits for a bachelor’s degree in this field, which can take as long as four years if you’re full time or up to six years if you’re part-time. Your courses may include:
· Criminal Justice
· Police Administration
· Corrections Administration
Depending on the agency, geography, and experience, criminal justice professionals with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn between $30,000 and $60,000 per year in their first year.
Here’s a quick roundup of the best Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree Programs available online.
|University of Central Florida||In-state-$179.19-PER CREDIT HOUR |
Out of state- $715.80PER CREDIT HOUR
|Colorado State University Global Campus||$25, 200|
|University of South Florida||$25, 320|
|Arizona State University-Skysong||$26, 734|
Criminal Justice Master’s degree
A Master’s degree in criminal justice can prepare you for a career, advance your existing career, or help you transition into a criminal justice career. The following are some of the benefits of earning a Master’s degree in criminal justice:
- Access to higher-paying job opportunities
- Increased chances of promotions and advancement within an organization
- Greater appreciation from peers and superiors
Criminal justice professionals with a Master’s degree can expect to earn between $ $74,834 and $97,000 per year as a starting salary.
Here are some online programs and their tuition.
|Boston university||$14, 832|
|Sam Houston State University||$15,555|
|University of Massachusetts-Lowell||$15,647|
|University of South Florida||Florida Resident-$7,840 |
Criminal Justice Doctorate degree
A doctoral program requires 3–5 years of full-time study after earning a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Most programs culminate with some written examination followed by an oral defence where you present your findings before faculty members and other experts in your field.
Criminal justice professionals with a PhD degree can earn $86,000 per year as a starting salary.
Here are some online programs and their tuition.
|Rutgers University||$ 8,447.00 per semester|
|Florida State University||Florida Resident-$11,553|
|University of South Florida||Florida Resident- $7,840|
Most Lucrative Careers in Criminal Justice Field
The most lucrative careers in the criminal justice field are FBI Agents, judges, and lawyers. These three careers can earn you a lot of money every year. FBI Agents earn more than $116,000 annually, while a judge can make more than $ $115,857 per annum.
Lawyer earns even more than that as they get paid according to their experience and expertise. An experienced lawyer in the United States normally earns roughly $178,000 per year. Salaries range from 94,600 dollars to 271,000 dollars.
Job and outlook Salary for people with criminal justice degrees
|Job title||The average wage per year ($)||Job Outlook||Minimum Education Requirement|
|Homicide Detective||$79,620-$119,280||4% increase||Associates or Bachelor’s Degree|
|Narcotics Officers||$65,719||4% increase||Associates or Bachelor’s Degree|
|Drug Enforcement Administration Agent||$82,100||7% increase||Bachelor’s Degree|
|Crime Scene Investigator||$51,372||19% increase||Bachelor’s Degree|
|Criminal investigator||$87,198 -$134,798||13% increase||Bachelor’s Degree|
|Private investigator||$60,990||13% increase||Master’s Degree|