What Can You Do With a Criminal Justice Degree?

A criminal justice degree from an accredited program prepares you for a wide range of careers in the legal, law enforcement and corrections fields on the local, state and federal levels.

Of course, you can use it to become a police officer, but that’s not your only option. There are several organizations geared toward law enforcement where criminal justice degree holders may work as police officers, investigators or in other roles. Here are a few:

  • Local police or sheriff’s departments
  • State police departments
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
  • Correctional facilities (county or state)
  • Park services
  • Juvenile justice centers
  • Narcotics Bureau
  • Liquor Control Boards
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Transportation
  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
  • Customs Agency
  • Immigration & Naturalization Services (INS)
  • Food & Drug Administration (FDA)

Criminal justice grads can also work in the private sector for insurance companies, private investigators, or security companies. Additionally, people in criminal justice programs can choose to specialize in more research-oriented roles, such as forensic science.

Forensicists often work as field or laboratory analysts at a local, state or national level crime lab. Popularized by top-rated television franchise CSI, (crime scene investigators), criminalist and forensic lab technicians have become highly sought-after careers.

There are two types of forensicist: Field analysts collect evidence and process crime scenes, while lab analysts run tests on evidence collected from the field. This can include running DNA and other chemical tests, firearm and bullet testing, or trace evidence analysis. Many cases are resolved on the scientific conclusions of evidence, making forensic science one of the most interesting fields you can pursue as a criminal justice graduate.

A criminal justice degree can also be a good pre-law program for those who want to pursue a career as a prosecutor, defense lawyer, legal representative, or any number of other positions. Besides these, there are also a number of other specialties within the field of criminal justice.