Types of Criminal Justice Degrees and Careers
If you have a passion for making the world a better place, you may be interested in law or justice studies. By choosing to earn a justice studies degree, you have a variety of career options available to you upon graduation.
GCU’s Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies gives you the opportunity to examine criminal theory and learn the components of the U.S. criminal justice system. A few of the topics covered in the program include crime and causation theories, objectives and strategies of police, data analysis, methods of research, and political impact of terrorism and emergency management. There are many other topics covered in the program, with resources and tools in place to help ensure that you have the chance to be successful upon graduation.
Below are types of criminal justice careers you may choose to pursue after earning your justice studies degree:
1. Private Detective or Investigator
A private investigator is hired by a group or individual to investigate suspicious activity to gain useful information to support a criminal case. Many private investigators are hired by attorneys for specific civil cases in which they are needed.
Some responsibilities that a private detective or investigator have are observing crime scenes and documentations, operating laws for specific investigations, providing information for crime scenes, examining evidence and prosecuting victims. Some cases they can be involved with are family law, background checks and infidelity law.
There is a robust job growth rate for this position. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, job growth for private detectives and investigators is projected to grow by an estimated 13% from 2020 to 2030, accounting for an estimated increase of about 4,400 jobs in the field.1
2. Police Officer
A police officer has many responsibilities for the safety and well-being of citizens. They protect the lives and property of individuals through the required laws within the state. Other duties they perform are conducting interviews with suspects, enforcing traffic laws and conducting investigations, responding to police service calls, writing tickets for traffic violations and acting as protection in public events, especially near unsafe areas.
3. Detective and Criminal Investigator
Like police officers, detectives and criminal investigators ensure the safety of the public by enforcing the laws. They do this by investigating violations of it as they check for living or dead victims, gather the facts surrounding the case, speak with witnesses and victims, securing a crime scene and gathering evidence from it.2
There is a demand for detectives and police officers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that about 67,100 openings for police and detectives are projected each year, on average, from 2020 to 2030.3
4. Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Professor
Criminal justice and law enforcement professors teach students about subjects regarding law enforcement administration, the criminal justice system and its efforts to administer justice and correct criminal behavior. The accomplish this by delivering lectures about the criminal justice system, assigning classwork and homework, facilitating class discussions on these lectures and evaluating students’ progress.4
Bailiffs, also known as marshals, are officers that keep order within a courtroom. They may do this by:
- Managing evidence and documents
- Escorting and protecting jury members
- Enforcing rules within the courtroom
- Assisting the judge
- Guarding the courtroom
- Escorting witnesses and defendants
Bailiffs have strong interpersonal and negotiating skills and are physically strong enough to subdue adults if necessary. They are strong decision-makers who pay attention to detail, control their emotions and think quickly in a crisis.
6. Forensic Specialist
Forensic specialists are criminal investigators who collect and observe evidence or data that a team takes from a crime scene. The evidence usually involves traces of DNA, including hair, blood and any individual materials. They use certain tools to help document it. Other activities they conduct are taking photos from the crime scenes and testing the evidence in labs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 2,500 job openings are projected for forensic science technicians each year, on average, from 2021 to 2031.5
If you are passionate about criminology or law, you may decide to further your education with a master’s degree in criminal justice, with emphases in legal studies or law enforcement. These programs can help prepare you for a successful future in criminal justice or allow you to take your education even further to gain as much insight into the field as possible before going into your desired career.
You can get started by pursuing a criminal justice studies degree at Grand Canyon University. GCU is pleased to offer the Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies, which will prepare you for a career in law enforcement as you learn about the criminal justice system, interpretation of the law, cybercrime and more. Learn more about Grand Canyon University’s justice studies program or the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
1 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on September 2021, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Private Detectives and Investigators, retrieved on Feb. 1, 2022.
2 O*NET OnLine, My Next Move, Detectives and Criminal Investigators in November 2022.
3 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on September 2021, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Police and Detectives, retrieved on Feb. 1, 2022.
4 O*NET OnLine, My Next Move, Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary in November 2022.
5 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 and 2021 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2022, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Forensic Science Technicians, retrieved on Oct. 26, 2022.
Approved by an Instructor for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Dec. 15, 2022.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.
More About GCU