What's the Salary for Someone with a Criminal Justice Degree?

A degree in criminal justice prepares graduates for a number of jobs in fields like law enforcement, the court system, and private security. Some possible jobs include police patrol officer, probation officer and paralegal. Read on to find out how much you can expect to earn with this degree. Schools offering Criminal Justice degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Options

Graduates with criminal justice degrees are qualified to work in a number of jobs. The average salary for each job varies depending on factors like location and employer type. The three common job titles for people with Bachelor of Science (BS) degrees in criminal justice, according to January 2016 data from PayScale.com, are police patrol officer, probation officer and paralegal.

Important Facts About Criminal Justice Degree Career Options

Police Patrol Officer Probation Officer Paralegals
On-the-Job Training Provided by training academy before becoming an officer Mandatory training program provided by state or federal government Not formally provided, but proficiency is acquired through work experience and schooling
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 5% growth 4% growth 8% growth
Key Skills Leadership; physical strength and stamina; empathy; good judgment and decision making Critical thinking; organization; clear communication; emotional stability Computer competency; organization; investigation; social nuance
Similar Occupations Correctional officers and bailiffs; private detectives and investigators Social and human service assistants; social workers; substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors Lawyers; occupational health and safety specialists; secretaries and administrative assistants

Police Patrol Officer

Many people with bachelor's degrees in criminal justice decide to become police officers. PayScale.com reported in January 2016 that these professionals made salaries ranging from $20,236-$86,767 with a BS in Criminal Justice. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) www.bls.gov, the overall average annual salary for police and sheriff's patrol officers was $59,560 in May 2014, but this figure varies by state of employment and employer.

The BLS reported in May 2014 that police and sheriff's patrol officers working for local government earned an average wage of $59,430, while those working for state government earned an average wage of $65,270.

Probation Officer

Probation officers and other correctional system workers usually need a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, social work or a related field. PayScale.com reported that most probation officers with a BS in Criminal Justice earned $34,219 in January 2016. The BLS reported that probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned an average salary of $53,360 yearly in May 2014.

Two factors that can affect pay are employer type and location. For example, probation officers employed by vocational rehabilitation services earned an average yearly salary around $58,590 in May 2014, according to the BLS. On the other hand, those who work for other residential facilities made a lower average wage of $45,890.


A bachelor's degree in criminal justice prepares graduates for jobs as paralegals. PayScale.com reported that most paralegals with a BS in Criminal Justice earned between $34,360 and $79,506 in January 2016. According to the BLS, the average yearly salary for paralegals and legal assistants was $51,840 in May 2014. Most worked in the legal services industry and earned an average wage of $49,680.

The BLS also reported that California, which offered an average wage of $60,940, employed the highest number of paralegals and legal assistants. The District of Columbia was the state offering the highest average wage of $74,930.

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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