10 Types of Criminal Justice Majors and Related Jobs

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published February 4, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published February 4, 2020

Criminal justice can be a rewarding career field to get into. As a criminal justice major, you will encounter many different aspects of the industry including psychology, sociology, law and public administration. Most criminal justice majors study a combination of these aspects, and there are a variety of job roles within criminal justice. In this article, we'll explore different criminal justice degree programs and the types of jobs you can get with a degree in criminal justice.

Advantages of a criminal justice degree

Criminal justice degree programs provide students with a wide skill set upon completion. You can gain new skills and develop experience within a combination of different fields, ultimately developing your knowledge base. Students of criminal justice programs often claim their studies include a wide variety of skill sets that encompass a few different aspects within the major. As a student of criminal justice, you will encounter different studies in sociology and psychology, information technology, social work and more that will demand specific skills.

If working in your community, analyzing criminal behavior, offering rehabilitation services or working in law enforcement sounds interesting to you, consider majoring in criminal justice.

Types of criminal justice degree majors

Because criminal justice is such a broad industry, there are many different types of criminal justice degrees and certifications you can pursue. Some majors require a bachelor's degree, some require an associate-level degree and others only require certification. The following list includes the different degree majors you can choose from within criminal justice.

  1. Corrections

  2. Criminology

  3. Forensic science

  4. Police science

  5. Prelaw studies

  6. Criminal justice

  7. Sociology

  8. Criminal psychology

  9. Law enforcement administration

  10. Rehabilitation

1. Corrections major

As a corrections major, students study prison life and prepare for roles in prison and jail facilities. While most majors graduate and start careers in prison facilities, others choose to take a scholarly role in research within this industry.

Degree level: Associate degree

2. Criminology major

As a criminology major, students focus on the nature and causes of crime, criminal behavior and the criminal justice system. Majoring in criminology will also prepare you for analyzing case studies, understanding crime theory, criminal law and policy, applying research methods and understanding psychology's and sociology's roles within criminology and criminal justice.

Degree level: Bachelor's degree

3. Forensic science major

Forensic science encompasses a variety of skills that prepare students for work in crime scene investigation, computer forensics investigations, cybersecurity, forensic analysis and research. This is a growing job field, and several degree options are available, depending on your focus study within forensics. For example, a crime scene technician only requires a certificate whereas a computer forensics major pursues a bachelor's degree.

Degree level: Certificate, associate degree, bachelor's degree and higher

4. Police science major

Consider majoring in police science if a career in police work interests you. As a student of police science, you will study every aspect of a police officer's job duties including investigating crimes, developing interpersonal communication skills and protocols for responding to intense situations. Some police science majors lead to an associate degree or higher, such as police and border patrol majors, while others lead to bachelor's degrees or higher, like private detective coursework.

Degree level: Certificate, associate degree, bachelor's degree

5. Pre-law and legal major

Majoring in pre-law and legal studies usually leads to a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice, with a focus on skills relevant to paralegal and attorney job roles. As a student in a pre-law program, you will learn about theories behind laws, the justice system and examine how law enforcement agencies and the judicial system operate.

Degree level: Bachelor's degree

6. Criminal justice major

Criminal justice degrees encompass a wide array of majors ranging from certificate programs for law enforcement and corrections to bachelor's programs for paralegals and private detectives. Overall, a criminal justice degree will provide you with a foundation for further and more specific studies within the industry.

Degree level: Certificate, associate degree, bachelor's degree

7. Sociology major

Sociology majors who focus on criminal justice start with an associate program in criminal justice, followed by a bachelor's program focusing on sociology. This major can provide opportunities for career development within fields such as human services, rehabilitation services and public relations.

Degree level: Associate degree, bachelor's degree

8. Criminal psychology major

Criminal psychology focuses on criminal behavior, that is, the background and motives of a criminal. This major requires study within a bachelor's program, where students focus on theories of human behavior, analyzing and interpreting criminal behavior and activity. A bachelor's program for criminal psychology majors can lead to graduate degrees in criminal psychology.

Degree level: Bachelor's degree, master's degree

9. Law enforcement administration major

Law enforcement administration majors usually have previous law enforcement experience and learn the skills necessary to manage police and security officers as supervisors and directors. Majoring in law enforcement administration will require a bachelor's degree or prior experience or certification in law enforcement.

Degree level: Bachelor's degree

10. Rehabilitation services major

A rehabilitation major includes studying aspects of sociology and offers career opportunities in substance abuse programs, therapy and counseling services in corrections facilities. Consider studying psychology and sociology along with your rehabilitation major to ensure you learn the required skills for working in this field.

Degree level: Associate degree, bachelor's degree

Types of jobs for a criminal justice degree

Since criminal justice includes many types of majors and degrees, the jobs available to graduates and those certified in criminal justice are many. The following list includes the different jobs available within the field of criminal justice.

  1. Behavioral specialist

  2. Corrections officer

  3. Law enforcement officer

  4. Paralegal

  5. Social worker

  6. Intelligence analyst

  7. Forensic scientist

  8. Criminal defense attorney

  9. Criminal psychologist

  10. Judge

1. Behavioral specialist

National average salary: $17.07 per hour

Primary duties: A behavioral specialist within criminal justice may work with youth at risk of criminal activity or other negative behavior. The specialist works with schools, community leaders, families and social workers to monitor and implement behavior strategies to help at-risk youth.

2. Corrections officer

National average salary: $33,415 per year

Primary duties: Correctional officers primarily serve in prison security roles. Duties within these roles include oversight of inmate activities and privileges, maintaining order and enforcing rules within jails and prisons and reporting on inmate conduct.

3. Law enforcement officer

National average salary: $48,008 per year

Primary duties: The primary duty of a law enforcement officer is to protect communities and property. Other duties required of law enforcement officers include patrolling neighborhoods, controlling traffic, responding to emergency calls, writing citations, arresting offenders and submitting incident reports.

4. Paralegal

National average salary: $50,179 per year

Primary duties: A paralegal's duties typically encompass drafting and filing paperwork, researching caseloads, interviewing witnesses and defendants and building cases for defendants or against other individuals or groups.

5. Social worker

National average salary: $57,469 per year

Primary duties: A social worker might work together with local law enforcement agencies, behavior specialists and rehabilitation specialists to prevent criminal activity. However, not all social workers work in criminal justice, but those who do will frequently be required to perform these duties as well as others such as assisting families and victims of abuse, diagnosing behavioral and mental disorders and offer counseling for substance abuse.

6. Intelligence analyst

National average salary: $58,087 per year

Primary duties: An intelligence analyst duties include the collection and analysis of data to evaluate and identify patterns in criminal activity to aid law enforcement agencies in the prevention and reduction of crime

7. Forensic scientist

National average salary: $65,619 per year

Primary duties: Forensic scientists are responsible for collecting and analyzing the physical evidence of committed crimes. Oftentimes, forensic scientists operate with mobile tools and equipment and work with law enforcement agencies in solving crimes.

8. Criminal defense attorney

National average salary: $72,439 - $89,022 per year

Primary duties: Defense attorney responsibilities typically include defendant case management, arraignment, pretrial hearings and settlement conferences and attending court trials and hearings. Defense attorneys can work for a variety of organizations at the local, state or federal level.

9. Judge

National average salary: $87,849 per year

Primary duties: The primary function of a judge is to ensure the law is abided and carried out within the courtroom, as well as presiding over court cases. Judges are also responsible for making motion decisions, making rulings and instructing juries.

10. Criminal psychologist

National average salary: $85,383 - $96,529 per year

Primary duties: One of the most prominent responsibilities of criminal psychologists is criminal profiling. Other duties include aiding law enforcement in analyzing solving crimes, analyzing criminal behavior and oftentimes providing expert testimony in court cases.

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