Entry Level Opportunities
Entry-level jobs are an important step in a person’s career. It is the first step that many graduates can take to apply what they’ve learned and identify the area of focus for their career.
Recently graduated criminal justice majors who are just starting out have a substantial list of entry-level opportunities waiting for them.
For those interested in law school, becoming a paralegal is a great steppingstone. Many criminal defense firms, especially small ones, enlist paralegals to assist in litigations.
The role of a paralegal is vital to any criminal defense firm as they help to ensure a court case goes smoothly by working closely with licensed lawyers to:
- Communicate with clients.
- Perform administrative tasks.
- Analyze case information.
- Conduct research on legal policies.
- Fact-check proceedings.
Paralegal work is rewarding and can pay quite well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. BLS), the 2020 median annual salary of an entry level paralegal was approximately $52,000.
Between 2019 and 2029, the U.S. BLS predicts that employment of paralegals will grow by 10%.
A popular entry-level career choice for criminal justice majors interested in policework, correctional officers enforce the regulations of a detainment facility or jail. Those working as a correctional officer help to ensure a detention center functions securely and the imprisoned are kept safe.
Although challenging, a job as a correctional officer provides important experience for those who wish to pursue a long-term career in law enforcement.
Many who start out as correctional officers go on to work in border patrol, state police agencies, and other higher-levels of law enforcement.
Forensic Science Technician
Fans of criminal investigation programs can live out their dreams piecing together crime scene data as entry-level forensic science technicians. A forensic science technician collects and analyzes physical evidence found at a crime scene. This includes biological evidence — like fingerprints and hair, to inorganic matter like bullets.
Forensic science technicians are crucial to building court cases and identifying suspects.
They are an integral component to the field of crime scene investigative research. The pay can also be satisfying.
As of May 2020, forensic science technicians can earn around $60,000 a year.
Surveillance, interviewing, research, these are some of the duties of a private detective. Private investigative agencies, attorneys, and businesses may look to hire private detectives or investigators to help verify the facts of a client, associate, or suspect.
Private detectives can attain information a number of ways, including:
- Gathering public records online.
- Conducting in-person surveillance.
- Performing online or in-person background checks.
- Interviewing suspects or involved parties over the phone.
Private detectives can earn a gratifying income. As of 2020, the average yearly salary was approximately $53,000.
Nonprofit Organization Advocate
Individuals who are passionate about social justice may want to consider working for a nonprofit as an advocate. While the tasks related to this entry-level role can be broad, a nonprofit organization advocate essentially helps advance the agenda or mission of the group they serve. This can be done by raising awareness through campaigns, lobbying, and general social outreach.
Justice-focused nonprofit advocacy groups fight injustice within the U.S. legal system by helping the wrongfully accused, the misrepresented, and those facing overly harsh sentences. Such nonprofit advocacy groups may also work towards improving the justice system by appealing to state legislatures.
Depending on the nonprofit, the pay range can vary. Some organizations offer an annual salary of $65,000 while others may offer $30,000 per year.
But the variable pay range is often offset by the important causes represented by each nonprofit organization.
Those who hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and are considering a graduate degree program will find more career options available. There are a variety of options for criminal justice students to expand scholastically and professionally, whether it is out on the field, in a lab, or behind a desk.
These options can lead to a variety of long-term careers, allowing the graduate to flourish in their intended field.
A lawyer or attorney is a key representative in the court of law. The role also requires a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or other related discipline as well as a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from a law school.
Depending on the concentration, lawyers counsel and defend for government agencies, industries, individuals, and organizations.
They interpret laws then argue on the client’s behalf. As the defendant’s voice within the courtroom, a lawyer holds a lot of responsibility when it comes to practicing law and representing the accused.
As of 2020, a lawyer’s median salary is about $121,000 per year.
Special agents, also known as detectives or criminal investigators, work exclusively under federal agencies or the military. The cases assigned to special agents relate to violations of federal, state, and local laws.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) enlists special agents with industry-specific qualifications in areas like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), psychology, education, and criminal justice.
Special agents operate directly in the field, investigating crime scenes, apprehending criminals and suspects, and neutralizing threats. They are instrumental in closing cases and enforcing justice.
Special agents earn an annual income of about $89,000 according to the U.S. BLS.
Those interested in studying and predicting criminal behavior should consider a career as a psychological profiler. This typically entails earning a graduate degree in behavioral or criminal psychology. Also known as behavioral or criminal profilers, psychological profilers specialize in creating profiles for uncaptured or unidentified violent criminals, such as murderers.
Psychological profilers often work on cold cases. They also advise law enforcers and teach them how to detect criminal behavior. In terms of apprehending criminals and solving cases, they serve as essential informants.
Psychological profilers typically work for the FBI or at universities as criminologists.
On average, psychological profilers earn a yearly salary of $89,000, which is approximately the same amount as special agents.
If your strengths involve computational research, data analysis, and working well under pressure, consider becoming an intelligence analyst.
Intelligence analysts consult enforcers and policy makers at the state, local, and federal levels on risk mitigation. They analyze information to detect and neutralize potential threats in collaboration with high-profile law enforcement agencies, mainly the FBI.
Intelligence analysts are crucial in combatting terrorism and maintaining the safety of the general public.
An intelligence analyst’s annual salary is comparable to that of a psychological profiler.