Master's in Criminal Justice: Salary and Career Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue with a master's degree in criminal justice. Read on to learn more about career options along with job outlook and salary information. Schools offering Criminal Justice degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Master's in Criminal Justice?

After completing a bachelor's degree it is possible to pursue graduate studies and complete a master's degree in criminal justice. Individuals with a master's degree in criminal justice are highly trained experts in criminal justice. A master's degree can increase job options and opportunities for advancement. Some career options include becoming a private investigator, a corrections officer or a social worker. Private investigators research matters for their clients, and collect evidence to establish the information the client is interested in. They may determine if a spouse is having an affair or if an employee has been stealing from a company. Corrections officers work with prisoners and monitor their behavior while incarcerated. Social workers can specialize in a number of different roles. They may counsel individuals with health issues, provide counseling to individuals with behavioral challenges or addictions, or they may assist individuals who need specific resources, such as food stamps, and help them secure those resources.

Social WorkerPrivate InvestigatorCorrections Officer
Key Skills Compassion, listening, problem-solving, organizational Attention to detail, problem-solving, communication Physical fitness, communication, emotional strength
Job Growth (2014-2024)12%* 5%* 4%*
Median Salary (2015) $58,560* $45,610* $40,530*

Source:*US Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn from a Master's in Criminal Justice Degree Program?

Case studies form a substantial component of criminal justice coursework. Your professors use them to show you the proper ways to handle situations and clients. Through these case studies, you will learn skills valuable to you in the workplace, such as analysis, problem-solving, patience, crisis assessment and resolution.

In many criminal justice careers, you will be working with people who will not always 'play fair.' In order to work with alleged or convicted criminals, you must be fast-thinking and able to work in a number of dynamic environments. Courses in a criminal justice degree program will prepare you for these environments. Other subjects you may come across during your studies are administrative law, theory of criminology, drugs, roles of police in society, race and crime, ethics, sex offenders, gangs and terrorism. You may also look deeper into principles of rehabilitation, forensic science, victimology, delinquency, counseling, court systems and domestic abuse.

What Careers Can I Consider?

With a criminal justice master's degree you can consider work in the social services field, corrections, investigations, loss prevention, government agencies or law enforcement. For example, you might seek a career as a private investigator, conducting work for attorneys, private business and individuals who are looking for specific information. To work as a private investigator, you need to know that 47 states currently require licensure.

Corrections officers and police officers work with criminals in and out of prison. Police help keep the peace on the streets while corrections officers keep peace in the jail houses and aid in the rehabilitation of convicts.

As a social worker in a government agency, you may work with child-protective services or child-support agencies, assist people to find homes and food, help with job placement and work with probation or parole officers to help ex-convicts get back on their feet through re-entry support. Social workers will need to look into licensure or certification per their state's requirements. If you earn a doctoral degree, you could work as a professor teaching criminal justice and law enforcement.

How Much Can I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2015, the following were some of the most common criminal justice careers and the average salaries: private investigators made $52,840, social workers made $57,970 and correctional officers made $45,320 (www.bls.gov). Most careers have branches or secondary industries as well. Depending on the industry, your salary may vary.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

The work that mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists do is similar to the work of a social worker. Counselors and therapists provide individuals with specific personal challenges with guidance and strategies for addressing their problems. Like social workers, they need a master's degree. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists need a bachelor's degree. Their work is similar to the work of corrections officers; however, they work with criminals after they've been released from prison and monitor them to help ensure that they do not commit further crimes. Police and detectives perform tasks that are comparable to the work of private investigators. They investigate crimes, interview witnesses, gather evidence, and then use that information to pursue criminal charges against a suspect. They do not necessarily need a degree, although postsecondary studies in criminal justice may increase their opportunities for advancement.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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