Explore Criminal Justice Degrees

WHAT IS CRIMINAL JUSTICE?

In the United States, criminal justice is the collective goal contributed to by a group of government agencies to ensure that criminal activity is prevented, and when committed, justly punished. Many agencies at the state and federal level comprise the collective force of criminal justice, and most fall within one of the major five components: law enforcement, courts/judiciary, corrections, security, and forensic science.

Law Enforcement: Local, county, and state police officers who prevent crimes and make arrests and detectives who investigate unnamed criminal acts.

Courts/Judiciary: Lawyers in the court system arguing cases against those accused of criminal acts, judges determining sentencing if found guilty.

Corrections: Corrections officers in charge of monitoring criminals once they’ve been convicted. Includes parole and probations officers, and counselors.

Security: Trained to use gathered knowledge—or ‘intelligence’—to prevent and evaluate threats on a local, national, and international level. The Department of Homeland Security manages and prevents outside threats to the nation and its people.

Forensic Science: Examine and analyze evidence associated with a crime to determine key scientific deductions that may assist in both finding and convicting the person(s) who committed the crime. Professions in this field usually have strong biology and chemistry backgrounds

Is an Online Criminal Justice Degree PROGRAM FOR YOU?

Public service keeps society moving forward. With an online degree in criminal justice, you may have the opportunity to learn how the professionals keep the peace, from the dangerous and exciting lifestyle on the front lines to the behind-the-scenes role that individuals play in forensic science.

It isn't all chasing criminals and unlocking the secrets to crimes, however. If you're more interested in pursuing a career path that examines the justice system from the perspective of a theoretical or research-based position, you can explore roles that fit this capacity.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE CAREER PATHS AND POTENTIAL SALARIES

Maintaining security, upholding the law, and investigating criminal acts may require specialized expertise. Earning an online criminal justice degree may help you pursue a career in one of these areas of the criminal justice field. Because there are many branches of the justice and law enforcement sectors, the salary and growth projection in this list of criminal justice jobs broadly range from a prisoner-guarding corrections officer to a bar-passing lawyer.

POLICE OFFICERS AND DETECTIVES (i)

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators, who are sometimes called agents or special agents, gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes.

  • Median Salary: $62,960 per year
  • Job growth through 2026: 7% (As fast as average)
  • Typical Entry-level education: Police and detective applicants must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, although many federal agencies and some police departments require some college coursework or a bachelor's degree.

PARALEGALS AND LEGAL ASSISTANTS (ii)

Paralegals and legal assistants perform a variety of tasks to support lawyers, including maintaining and organizing files, conducting legal research, and drafting documents.

  • Median Salary: $50,410 per year
  • Job growth through 2026: 15% (Much faster than average)
  • Typical Entry-level education: Associate's degree

Forensic Science Technicians (iii)

Forensic science technicians aid criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing evidence. Many technicians specialize in various types of laboratory analysis.

  • Median Salary: $57,850 per year
  • Job growth through 2026: 17% (Much faster than average)
  • Typical Entry-level education: Bachelor's degree

(i) bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm | (ii) bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm | (iii) bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/forensic-science-technicians.htm