What to Know About Criminal Justice College Majors

Criminal Justice College Majors

Criminal justice is what we call an interdisciplinary major. When you take this major you will be looking at all aspects of crime, studying law, and also the US justice system.

There are several fields in the criminal justice system that you can branch-off with a criminology major.

Top 12 Criminal Justice Colleges

Criminal justice has been a major at universities and colleges for a long time. There are many different well-paying jobs in the American criminal justice system you can look to fill.

Here are the top 12 colleges that offer criminal justice as a major in college.

The school below are not ranked in order. We just added the top schools based on several factors such as graduate earnings, overall quality of the college, the number of successful internship programs and the number of students enrolling for criminal justice majors.

  • University of Maryland – College Park
  • University of Cincinnati
  • Arizona State University
  • University of Missouri – St. Louis
  • Old Dominion University
  • Michigan State University
  • Rutgers
  • Florida State University
  • University of New York
  • George Mason
  • Temple University
  • Northeastern University
  • University of California, Irvine Marist College

Benefits of Majoring in Criminal Justice

If you have a passion for pursuing justice and making a positive impact on society and the country as a whole, criminal justice is the career for you.

In this area of specialization, you do not just get to work for the sake of just working, but you also get to enjoy so many benefits that come with it. The benefits range from job security to financial stability.

Below are some of the many benefits.

Better Health and Retirement Benefits

The US government offers life insurance and retirement benefits to law enforcement officers and their families.

If you join the police while still at a university or college, you may be eligible for student loans and university/college education discounts.

Police officers are allowed to retire after only 20 years of service to which they are guaranteed some really good benefits.

The government provides a guaranteed

  • Paid sick leave
  • 401K retirement plan
  • Life insurance plan
  • Vacation time

This would include police officers, US marshals, FBI agents, CIA operatives and the Secret Service agents.

Promising Job Growth

The US government is looking to lower crime in every neighborhood, the demand for more law enforcement and parole officers is on the rise.  

By pursuing a major in criminal justice, you can rest assured that you are not going to be jobless unless you get fired for not doing your job.

Variety of Career Paths

A degree in criminal justice, you are open to many different career choices in the justice department. You can join the organizations and employers below to work in many different job functions.

  • Law enforcement officer like the police
  • FBI agent
  • Secret service agent
  • CIA agent
  • DEA
  • US marshall
  • Intelligence analysts
  • Fingerprints specialists
  • Cyber-crimes division
  • Counterintelligence operative

These are very well-paying jobs with guaranteed benefits for you and your family. You can also join the army and engage in other careers like the military police, technicians, intelligence analyst and so on.

Job Security

Many jobs in criminal justice offer great job stability. You will likely enjoy a long career because there is usually more stability than if you were in the private sector. You may give up a higher salary it may be worth it for the stability of jobs in the criminal justice field.

Chance to Make an Impact in Society

Pursuing criminal justice, you have the opportunity to make society a better place. The aim of criminal justice is not to apprehend, prosecute or imprison as many individuals as possible, but to also prevent individuals with committing a crime.

Your job can have a great reward in helping people and saving lives.

Steady Pay

One great benefit of having a major in criminal justice is that you do not have to worry so much about where to get jobs. The demand for a criminal justice degree is rising. You have the advantage of choosing from the vast pool of available jobs in the justice department.

After you get a job with the justice department, there is a base pay for every job you may be interested in. If you are looking for more job pay information check out Indeed.

The base pay is always consistent, regardless of the state of the economy in the country. The amount of pay can only rise with your rise in the ranks at work. This will all be dependent on your performance and integrity. This stability is a huge benefit as far as peace of mind is concerned.

The salaries below are average and depending on where you live will adjust the average salary.

Correctional specialist: Average salary $49,000

Police officer: Average salary $60,000

Probation officer: Average salary $51,000

Deputy US Marshall: Average salary $$45,000

DEA special agent: Average salary 49,000

Crime analyst: Average salary $107,000

FBI agents: Average salary $64,000

Many of these jobs you can make much more depending on where you live and how long you work for the agency.

Careers in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice has varying career choices for you to pursue. Each profession in criminal justice has a number of career paths.

The career opportunities seem to keep on increasing day in day out, due to the rising demand for law enforcement officers. New technology to combat and prevent cyber or terrorist activities have created a huge growth in criminal justice.

You could either join the FBI, which is tasked with the federal investigations. You can become a police officer to do the local law enforcement work. In the police department, you can work as a forensic data analyst, counterintelligence, cybercrime unit, fingerprint technology and many more.

You can join the US marshals that are tasked with escorting prisoners during transportation. Your criminal justice degree can help you become an analyst with the CIA or the Secret Service.

You could also become a parole officer. 

There is also working in a private investigations firm or in your own private eye firm.

The criminal justice is one of the main employers in the country. These are just some of the many career paths you can follow in the vast criminal justice system.

Expected Salary

If your ambition is to have a salary with several zeros in your paycheque, then criminal justice is not the profession for you. Most criminal justice jobs do not pay as much as they may seem hyped in the TV shows.

Criminal justice is mainly about the ambition and passion for making an impact in society by helping tackle and prevent crimes before they are committed.

However, this does not mean that criminal justice jobs cannot offer you and your family financial stability.

It may not always be the highest pay but it is enough to give you and your loved ones a decent and affordable life. The benefits and job security that comes with these jobs is what makes many of these better than other careers.

A police officer can get paid up to $90,000 per year, a forensic psychologist makes up to $100,000 per year, a forensic science technician can make up to $80,000 per year while a criminologist can earn up to $122, 000 a year.

The high end does pay well you just have to put in the time and effort to make the maximum pay. You also have to live in a highly populated city. Living in a small town in Ohio will not pay as much for a police officer as a large city like Columbus, Ohio.

Demand in the Job Market

The demand for a criminal justice degree in the job market is ever-growing. This is because of the ever need for more law enforcement officers to maintain law and order in society and to combat the new dynamics of white-collar crime.

As the technology keeps changing day in day out, so does the techniques of criminals, hence the need for law enforcement to advance with these changes in a mission to achieve a crime-free nation.

Here is a huge list of criminal justice jobs broken out by sector:

Court jobs:

  • Bailiff
  • Judge
  • Attorney
  • Court Administrator
  • Paralegal
  • Legal assistant
  • Pretrial service
  • Court clerk
  • Youth counselor
  • Court reporter

Security jobs:

  • Industrial security
  • Retail security
  • Commercial security

Law enforcement:

  • Police officer
  • State trooper
  • Crime analyst
  • Sheriff


  • Counselor for juvenile, correctional or correction treatment
  • Parole officer
  • Probation officer
  • Warden
  • Assistant Warden
  • Vocational specialist
  • Caseworker
  • Inmate records
  • Substance abuse specialist
  • Psychologist
  • Pre-release correctional specialist

Law enforcement federal:

  • ATF Alcohol tobacco and firearms
  • FBI
  • Fish and wildlife agent
  • Customs agent
  • DEA drug enforcement agent
  • United States postal inspector
  • Arson examiner
  • IRS investigator
  • Border patrol
  • US park police
  • Secret service agent
  • Ballistics examiner
  • Polygraph examiner

Highest Paying Job in Criminal Justice

The highest paying job in the criminal justice field is law. A lawyer can make up to $163,000 per year or more.

This figure could increase if the lawyer is practicing private law or when representing wealthy individuals and companies by being their attorneys. They could also make much more if they are practicing law as district attorneys.

They are followed by FBI agents who can make around $114,000 a year. Most jobs in criminal justice salaries will increase as you gain experience and tenure.

Classes in Criminal Justice

The type of classes you can expect to attend in a criminal justice major in college include:

  • White-collar crime
  • Criminal justice process and procedure
  • Forensics
  • The role of police in modern society
  • Criminal justice research methods
  • Criminological theories
  • Statistics for criminal justice

Criminal Justice and Law

A bachelor’s degree is very helpful when joining a law school. The American bar association says that there are no specific undergraduate degrees for you to join a law school. Any undergraduate degree can comfortably get you into law school. As a matter of fact, law schools accept different undergraduate degrees in any discipline to encourage diversity in the law industry.

All you need is an undergraduate degree, a good GPA and pass the admission exams. It gives you a head start over other students since it has several units that can be used in law. An example of those units is criminal law and interviewing techniques

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement

A criminal justice degree is very important in law enforcement. It is not necessarily a requirement to join the police department but it will give you an advantage. You note that without a background in criminal justice, you have to go through the police academy.

You can work for police departments as:

  • Forensic technicians
  • Intelligence analysts
  • Crime scene specialists
  • Sign language interpreters
  • Lab technicians
  • Interrogators
  • Criminal psychologists
  • Cyber criminologist

Criminal Justice Majors and Forensic Technician

The forensic technician is tasked with handling and process forensic evidence collected from a crime scene. They can either work in a forensic lab analyzing the evidence or they can spend hours in the field processing and handling crime scenes.

A criminal justice major helps you land a job in these fields. You can either work as a forensic technician with the police department or you could still do the job with other federal agencies such as the DEA or the CIA.

The good thing is that with a criminal justice major, you do not need extra schooling to become a forensic technician.

However, you may have an added advantage if you had an extra course such as ballistic analysis or skills like training from the police academy.

If you have a criminal justice major and you are aspiring to be a forensic technician, I would advise you to go through the police or FBI training since this will give you an advantage and you may be able to rise in the ranks faster.


There are so many options for careers when you major in criminal justice. You will need to do an internship or shadow someone in the area of criminal justice you may be interested in pursuing.

Write down all the jobs that you may have an interest then see if you can shadow someone who does that job. This will let you see what the job entails and if it is something you may like to do.

You looking for the highest paying college majors.

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