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If someone asks you to name three jobs in the criminal justice system, your first thoughts might be police officers, crime scene investigators and correctional officers. You’re not wrong, but criminal justice offers many other professional career paths (and some that may surprise you!), especially if you have a master’s degree.

Doors you can open

Where can a Master of Science degree in criminal justice take you? Here are some options you may not have thought about:

  • Victims’ Advocate: Advocates help victims of crime or abuse by advising them of their rights, offering counseling or emotional support and guiding them to obtain victims’ compensation. The pay range for this type of social and community service work is $30,000 to $40,000.1
  • DEA Intelligence Research Specialist: The Drug Enforcement Administration leads the fight against narcotics, drug abuse and narcotics trafficking. Salaries for professionals within the agency who gather, process and repackage intelligence range from $44,000 to $90,000. As federal employees, intelligence research specialists are also eligible for locality pay that compensates for living in regions with higher than average wages and usually a higher cost of living.2
  • Criminologist: People in this field try to understand crime, its causes and its effects. They do a lot of research and study trends and statistics to determine why people break the law and how to prevent it. Salary potential? $60,000 to $80,000.3
  • Forensic Psychologist: This challenging but rewarding profession focuses on criminals and criminal behavior. Forensic psychologists assess people for competency to stand trial, work with child witnesses and testify in custody conflicts, lawsuits and insurance disputes, among other services. These professionals typically work as consultants in the prison system or for state governments. Annual salaries range from $70,000 to nearly $90,000 a year.4
  • Criminal Analyst: Police departments use analyst services to help them assess criminal and security threats. Analysts monitor criminal activity through surveillance, databases, financial records, informants and other sources to give law enforcement officers the intelligence they need to prevent and prosecute crimes. Salaries for people with master’s degrees can range from around $35,000 to $70,000, with factors such as location and staff size affecting the base.5
  • College Professor: Criminal justice professors teach topics such as criminology, legal and ethical issues, forensic psychology and research design and analysis. They might also write research papers on criminal justice and advise students on career paths. Those who want to teach at the college level can opt for a four-year institution or a two-year community college. They typically start as instructors, which can pay around $35,000 to $50,000.
  • FBI Agent: Working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation involves working on national-level crimes such as terrorism, extortion, foreign counterintelligence, organized crime and white-collar crime. As government employees, FBI agents go through a highly structured salary progression in the $48,000 to $75,000 range.6
  • Correctional Case Manager: Also known as correctional treatment specialists, case managers work with prison inmates to help them rehabilitate and reenter the community. They evaluate inmates’ progress, coordinate training programs, analyze inmate program needs and develop release plans to help people get on the right track. Case managers can earn $40,000 to $60,000.7

Jobs in criminal justice will continue to grow and diversify as criminals find new and more sophisticated ways to threaten people and communities. A Master of Science degree in criminal justice can open many different doors to a fulfilling and lucrative career.

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[1] Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social and Human Service Assistants, U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 13, 2018

[2] 2019 General Schedule (GS) Locality Pay Tables, U.S. Office of Personnel Management

[3] Occupational Outlook Handbook, Sociologists, U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 13, 2018

[4] Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychologists, U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 13, 2018

[5] Average Crime Analyst Salary, PayScale.com

[6] 2019 General Schedule (GS) Locality Pay Tables, U.S. Office of Personnel Management

[7] Occupational Outlook Handbook, Social Workers, U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 11, 2018