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Entry-Level Jobs in Law Enforcement for Criminal Justice Majors

A police officer is an entry level career in law enforcement.

You don’t have to love donuts to work in law enforcement. If you are looking for an exciting and challenging career, consider a job in law enforcement. You can find many different types of law enforcement jobs, and each one offers its own set of unique challenges and rewards. If you have a criminal justice degree, there are many entry-level jobs in law enforcement that you may be qualified for. Keep reading to learn more about these exciting careers.

What Is Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice is the study of crime, its causes and effects, and the criminal justice system’s response to crime. This includes law enforcement, corrections, courts, and juvenile justice. With a criminal justice degree, you can pursue a career in law enforcement, homeland security, and forensics.

The criminal justice system is a complex network of agencies and processes designed to prevent crime and punish those who break the law. Three main components form the system:

  • Law enforcement
  • Courts
  • Corrections

Law enforcement is the first line of defense against crime. Police officers play a vital role in keeping communities safe. They respond to 911 calls, investigate crimes, make arrests, and testify in court.

Courts interpret and apply the law. Judges preside over criminal and civil cases and hand down verdicts or sentences. Prosecutors represent the state or federal government in court proceedings. Public defenders provide legal assistance to defendants who cannot afford an attorney.

Those found guilty of a crime must make amends. A judge will sentence a criminal to a punishment for their crimes. It becomes the duty of the Corrections branch to follow through with the penalty of prison, probation, or community service.

How to Know if a Criminal Justice Career is Right for You

There are many things to consider when deciding to pursue a criminal justice degree. One of the most important is whether or not you have an interest in law enforcement and criminology. If you have a strong interest in law and order and want to work within the criminal justice system, then a career in law enforcement may be right for you.

Law enforcement is a broad field that encompasses many different types of jobs. Some of the most popular include working as police officers, detectives, or federal agents. While each job has its duties and responsibilities, they all share one common goal: to keep the public safe from crime.

If you are interested in a career in law enforcement, you should know a few things.

  • First, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field.
  • Second, you’ll need to complete an intensive training program, which can last several months to a year.
  • Third, you’ll need to pass a rigorous background check and meet other eligibility requirements.

20 Best Entry Level Jobs in Law Enforcement with Criminal Justice Degrees

1. Border Patrol Agent

Border Patrol agents patrol the borders of the US to prevent people and goods from illegally entering or leaving the country. They work in a variety of environments, including rural and urban areas. They are maybe assigned to patrol by land, sea, or air. Candidates for this position must be US citizens and have a valid driver’s license.

Qualifications Needed

To be a border patrol agent, you must have US citizenship and be no older than 39. Other qualifications include eligibility to carry firearms, no criminal record, and a valid driver’s license. You must also pass a drug test and background check. You do not need a college degree, although it can be helpful in a competitive market.

Salary

The average annual salary for a border patrol agent is $77,187 in the US. Those with experience and advanced training can earn up to $100,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Border patrol agents can expect 21 percent growth in job openings through 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing focus on homeland security continues to create demand for these workers.

2. Customs Enforcement Officer

Customs enforcement officers enforce laws and regulations governing the import and export of goods into and out of the US. They work in customs offices at ports of entry such as airports and seaports.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants for a customs enforcement officer position must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. They must also pass a background check, drug test, and physical fitness exam.

Salary

The average annual salary for a customs enforcement officer is $76,673. Having work experience gives you a chance to earn up to $115,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Customs enforcement officers can expect 11 percent growth in job openings through 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. The growing trade between the US and other countries will increase the demand for these workers.

3. Immigration Enforcement Officer

Another entry-level job you can get in law enforcement with a criminal justice degree is an immigration enforcement officer. These officers enforce the immigration laws of the US. They work in various settings, including airports, border crossings, and detention facilities.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. They must also pass a background check, drug test, and physical fitness exam.

Salary

The average annual salary for an immigration enforcement officer is $75,628. According to PayScale, those with enough experience can earn up to $102,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Immigration enforcement officers can expect 11 percent growth in job openings, faster than the average for all occupations.

4. Transportation Security Specialist (TSA Officer)

TSA officers ensure the safety of passengers and crew members traveling on commercial airlines. They work at airports across the country, screening passengers and their luggage for dangerous items.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a TSA officer is $41,044. Those with experience can earn up to $55,000 per year.

Career Outlook

TSA officers can expect consistent growth in job openings through 2028.

5. US Capitol Police Officer

USCP officers protect members of Congress, their staff, and visitors to the US Capitol complex. They work throughout the area, including office buildings, parking garages, and public spaces.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. They must also pass a drug test, background check, and physical fitness exam.

Salary

The average annual salary for a USCP officer is $76,526. USCP officers with experience can earn up to $115,000 per year.

Career Outlook

USCP officers can expect a 13 percent growth in job openings through 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. The increasing number of threats against members of Congress and their staff will create demand for these workers.

6. General Services Administration Police Officer

A GSA police officer maintains law and order on GSA property. They work in various settings, including office buildings, warehouses, and post offices. Additionally, GSA police officers may provide security for special events.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a criminal justice degree. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a GSA police officer is $51,916. With experience, you can earn up to $71,000 per year.

Career Outlook

GSA police officers can expect an eight percent growth in job openings through 2028. This is slower than the average for all occupations.

7. Correctional Officer

Some entry-level criminal justice jobs are demanding, such as a correctional officer. Given that inmates serve time in prison because they don’t care about society’s laws maintaining criminals’ compliance with prison regulations is a Herculean task.

Correctional officers keep inmates safe from one another while also preventing them from harming themselves. They also maintain the security of prison facilities and ensure that no contraband enters or leaves the prison.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalent. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a correctional officer is $43,550. According to PayScale, those with enough experience can earn up to $58,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Correctional officers can expect a three percent growth in job openings through the next decade. This is slower than the average for all occupations.

8. Criminal Defense Paralegal

Many people who like to watch TV shows about criminal law think that the lawyer is the most important person on the show. But every great attorney needs an excellent paralegal to help them out. That’s why they’re so important.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies or a related field. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

Entry-level paralegals make decent money. They usually earn between $50,000 and $60,000 a year. This could be less if the criminal defense firm is smaller. But generally speaking, they make a good living.

Career Outlook

Criminal defense paralegals can expect eight percent growth in job openings through 2028. This is slower than the average for all occupations.

9. Parole Officer

One of the most important jobs in the justice system is being a parole officer. These officers help recently released inmates adjust to life outside of prison. They meet with the former inmates regularly and help them find jobs, housing, and social services. Parole officers also make sure that former inmates follow the terms of their release.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a parole officer is $51,916. PayScale states that people with working experience can earn up to $71,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Parole officers can expect a five percent growth in job openings over the next decade. This is slower than the average for all occupations.

10. Non-Profit Organization Advocate

Do you want to help people but don’t want to work for the government? Then consider becoming an advocate for a non-profit organization. Such advocates work for charities and other non-profit organizations, raising money from the government and private donors.

Non-profit organization advocates also promote these organizations to the public. They talk about what the charity does and how it helps people.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or a related field. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a non-profit organization advocate is $53,316. If you have experience, you can earn considerably more—up to $85,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Non-profit organization advocates can expect 18 percent growth in job openings over the next decade, faster than the average for all occupations. As more and more people become interested in donating to charity, the need for these workers will increase.

11. Child Protective Services Worker

Child protective services workers help children and families. They make sure children are safe and help them if they are not. These professionals help children who have been neglected or abused, and they also help families when the parents make decisions that can hurt the children. They find resources to help these families.

These workers are essential because they protect children who are in danger. They take them away from bad homes and put them in good homes.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a child protective services worker is $41,511. With experience, you can make up to $55,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Child protective services workers can expect 18 percent growth in job openings over the next decade, faster than the average for all occupations. As more and more children need help, the need for these workers will increase.

12. Private Detective

There are many things a socially conscious person can do if they want to help bring criminals to justice and also help with social good. One option is to become a private detective. This involves thinking outside the box and using your creativity to develop new solutions.

Private detectives help solve crimes. They do this by investigating and gathering evidence. They also talk to people who may have information about the crime.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a private detective is $50,316. With experience, you can make up to $72,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Private detectives can expect 11 percent growth in job openings over the next decade, faster than the average for all occupations. As technology advances, the need for these workers will increase. Therefore, if you’re good with gadgets and are interested in helping solve crimes, this may be your job.

13. Fish & Game Warden

Fish & game wardens are responsible for enforcing fishing and hunting laws. They also protect wildlife. These workers patrol areas where people fish and hunt. They make sure that people have the proper licenses and follow the rules. They also investigate illegal hunting or fishing and work to stop it.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a fish & game warden is $48,316. With experience, you can make up to $70,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Fish & game wardens can expect a six percent growth in job openings over the next decade. This is slower than the average for all occupations.

14. FBI Agent

The FBI investigates federal crimes. They also work to prevent terrorism. FBI agents are some of the best-trained law enforcement officers in the world. They learn how to examine complex crimes and gather evidence.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. They must also pass a drug test and background check.

Salary

The average annual salary for an FBI agent is $66,120. With experience, you can make up to $127,000 per year.

Career Outlook

FBI agents can expect 17 percent growth in job openings, faster than the average for all occupations. As more and more crimes occur, the need for these workers will increase.

15. Crime Lab Analyst

These professionals help solve crimes by analyzing evidence. Crime lab analysts use different techniques to determine what happened during a crime. These techniques include toxicology, DNA analysis, blood analysis, fingerprinting, etc.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a crime lab analyst is $56,000. With experience, you can make up to $76,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Crime lab analysts can expect 17 percent growth in job openings over the next decade, faster than the average for all occupations. As technology advances, the need for these workers will increase. Therefore, if you’re interested in science and want to help solve crimes, this may be your job.

16. DEA Agent

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is a part of the federal government that helps control and prevent the import and sale of illegal drugs. DEA agents work to stop the flow of drugs into the US. They also investigate drug-related crimes.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a DEA agent is $66,450. With experience, you can make up to $131,000 per year.

Career Outlook

DEA agents can expect 12 percent growth in job openings over the next decade, faster than the average for all occupations. As drug use continues to rise, the need for these workers will increase.

17. Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologists use their skills to examine individuals to figure out their thoughts and motivations. They interview witnesses and criminals to help solve crimes or rehabilitate criminals.

Forensic psychologists work in criminal investigations. They frequently testify in court to offer opinions on sending convicted offenders to mental health facilities, such as child abuse situations. Forensic psychologists specialize in specific crimes or offenders.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants need a doctoral degree in psychology. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a forensic psychologist is $69,510. With experience, you can make up to $115,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Forensic psychologists can expect 18 percent growth in job openings over the next decade, faster than the average for all occupations. As technology advances, the need for these workers will increase. If you understand human behavior and are interested in solving crimes, this may be the job for you.

18. Forensic Accountant

Forensic accountants help investigate financial crimes and use their knowledge of accounting and finance to uncover evidence. They also testify in court.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a forensic accountant is $68,440. With experience, you can make up to $115,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Forensic accountants can expect 18 percent growth in job openings over the next decade, faster than the average for all occupations. As technology advances, the need for these workers will increase.

19. Secret Service Agent

Secret service agents help protect the President of the US, the Vice President, and their families. They also protect other high-ranking officials.

Secret service agents investigate crimes such as counterfeiting and fraud. They also provide security for special events, such as state visits and presidential inaugurations.

Qualifications Needed

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. They must also pass a background check and drug test.

Salary

The average annual salary for a secret service agent is $65,000. With experience, you can make up to $131,000 per year.

Career Outlook

Secret service agents can expect 12 percent growth in job openings, faster than the average for all occupations. As technology advances, the need for these workers will increase.

FAQs

Where Can You Earn a Criminal Justice Degree?

Many schools across the US offer criminal justice degrees. Many of these schools are located near large metropolitan areas, offering great internship and job opportunities after graduation. Some of the top schools for criminal justice degrees include John Jay College in New York City, George Washington University in Washington DC, and Pepperdine University in Los Angeles. Many online programs are available if you prefer to study from home or complete your degree while working full-time.

Is an Online Criminal Justice Degree Good?

An online criminal justice degree can be a great way to get started in your career in law enforcement. However, it is crucial to ensure that the program you choose is accredited and meets your state’s requirements.

Many programs are available online, so do your research to find the best one for you. Once you complete your degree, you will be ready to start your career in law enforcement.

What will I learn in a Criminal Justice Degree Program?

Criminal justice courses provide students with an understanding of the American criminal justice system. Students will learn about various topics such as the history of law enforcement, types of crimes, and the court system. In addition, students will also gain practical skills such as report writing and crime scene investigation.

Does Criminal Justice Require Math?

Yes, criminal justice majors do need to have strong math skills. Many of the criminal justice curriculum classes involve mathematical concepts and theories. For instance, those seeking careers in law enforcement often need coursework in statistics.

However, don’t worry if you don’t consider yourself to be “math-smart.” There are many ways to strengthen your math skills before entering a criminal justice program.

You can take online courses, attend community college, or work with a tutor. The most important thing is that you make an effort to improve your skills and are willing to put in the hard work necessary for success.

Conclusion

A career in law enforcement is an excellent option for those with a criminal justice degree. Many entry-level jobs are available that allow you to gain experience and advance in your career.

With the proper training and education, you can become a valuable member of the law enforcement community and make a difference in your community.

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