Career Options for Graduates with a Criminal Justice Degree

A criminal justice degree provides graduates with a range of skills and knowledge that can lead to various career paths within the criminal justice system and related fields. With a criminal justice degree, doors open to jobs at the local, state, and federal levels. Here are some of the top career options for criminal justice graduates.

Law Enforcement

One of the most common careers for criminal justice graduates is in law enforcement. Police officers work at the local level to enforce laws and keep communities safe. With a criminal justice degree, graduates can qualify for police academy training and meet the educational requirements many law enforcement agencies require. Other law enforcement careers include sheriff’s deputies, state troopers, federal agents, crime scene investigators, and homeland security officials. These roles involve maintaining public order, conducting investigations, collecting evidence, making arrests, and preparing cases.

Legal System

There are a variety of career options within the legal system for criminal justice graduates. With a criminal justice degree, graduates can pursue careers as paralegals, legal assistants, victim advocates, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists. These roles involve working in the court system, jails, prisons, and community corrections. Responsibilities may include conducting legal research, preparing legal documents, advising and supporting victims, creating case reports, enforcing probation and parole requirements, and providing rehabilitative services to offenders.

National Security

Criminal justice graduates can also qualify for careers with federal agencies like the FBI, CIA, and Secret Service. These agencies focus on national security matters such as counterterrorism, cybercrimes, fraud, human trafficking, organized crime, and government investigations. Graduates may work as intelligence analysts, forensic analysts, investigators, or specialists within a particular type of crime. Careers involve collecting and analyzing intelligence, conducting surveillance, investigating complex crimes, and helping protect national security.

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The field of forensics provides career opportunities for criminal justice graduates interested in science. Forensic science technicians aid criminal investigations by analyzing and processing physical evidence from crime scenes. This can include fingerprint analysis, blood pattern analysis, ballistics, DNA analysis, toxicology tests, and more. Careers in this field combine criminal justice knowledge with scientific analysis methods. Other forensics careers include crime scene investigators, forensic photographers, and coroners.

Private Sector Security

Graduates with an online criminal justice degree can use their skills and knowledge in security roles within corporations. Private security managers develop strategies to protect companies from internal and external threats. They oversee security systems, access controls, investigations into internal affairs, and emergency response planning. Large retail companies, banks, hospitals, and technology companies are examples of workplaces that employ security personnel. Graduates can also pursue careers as private investigators for individuals, attorneys, and insurance companies.


With an advanced graduate degree, criminal justice graduates can become professors and researchers within academia. This career path involves teaching criminal justice courses at colleges and universities and conducting research studies that advance the field. Academic knowledge and research help inform evidence-based policing strategies and the development of best practices within the criminal justice system.

A criminal justice degree provides diverse career paths in law enforcement, legal roles, forensics, security, national agencies, and academia. Graduates can apply their knowledge in positions at all levels of government, in private companies, and within community-based organizations and the justice system.