The pursuit of law and order is something that our society as a whole has a significant investment in. And in an age where we face collective threats from domestic and foreign terrorism as well as everyday crime, the field of criminal justice has become even more complicated.
Those who pursue a degree in criminal justice will be seeking the skills and knowledge they need in order to play a role in our homeland security apparatus and facilitate the enforcement of the law at local, state and federal levels.
Skills and Demand for this Degree
Job market demand for criminal justice grads varies depending on your specialization and what type of training you seek beyond your degree, but generally demand is increasing quickly for nearly every job in this field. Some of the most promising prospects, both in public justice and private security jobs, are for graduates with in-demand skills related to cyber security and forensics.
- Computer Security: The demand is huge for competent security analysts and security experts who understand the workings of network security and vulnerabilities. They will be the ones on the front lines fighting against cyber criminals and even agents of foreign entities seeking to sabotage companies and governments through cyber warfare.
- Ethics: Those entrusted with the authority and power to enforce the law, both with physical force and legal authority, need to be aware of the ethical challenges they will face so that they can preserve the rights and civil liberties of those whom they serve and know exactly the methods available to them to do their jobs.
- Law Enforcement: Law enforcement officers and those part of the legal bureaucracy that administers justice need to have knowledge of how our legal system and the structure of our legal codes, the terminology used, and the legal principles that undergird the entire system.
- Criminal Justice Administration: Understanding the ways in which our justice system prosecutes and administers justice through the courts and correctional systems is critical to law enforcement officers, criminologists and anyone working within our legal system.
- Technology and Methodology: Graduates in criminal justice learn the specific technology used by law enforcement and administration to investigate, prosecute and prevent crime.
Salary Prospects for Criminal Justice Grads
As will most degrees, salary and benefits increase depending on your level of education and experience. The median salary for occupations differs quite a bit, depending on the role.
- Police Officer ($55,010)
- Probation Officer ($47,200)
- Paralegal ($46,680)
- Cyber Security Expert ($51,570)
- Security Manager ($53,858)
The median pay here doesn’t necessarily reflect the salary earnings that criminal justice grads can expect. There can be a big difference and pay between government jobs and private security positions, and often experience in the public sector comes at a premium in the private sector. Also, pay can vary greatly depending on where you live and what type of agency or organization you plan to have a career in.
The surge in demand for additional security in the wake of the 9/11 attacks has dramatically expanded the market for homeland security, criminal forensics and cyber crime prevention. Growth in demand for police officers and state law enforcement officers may not grow as fast as say, demand for computer forensics experts and other technically skilled professionals. But overall, this sector looks like it will experience steady growth for several years to come.