Criminal Justice and Law

The fields of criminal justice and law span a wide range of careers--everything from a police patrol officer to a prosecuting attorney, from a forensic technician to an agent. With enough training in this field, you could even pursue a career as a lawyer or a prosecuting attorney.

Types of criminal justice and law degrees

There are a variety of degrees available in the field of criminal justice and law. These include:

  • Associate Degree -- Generally a two-year program at a community college or university. These degrees include training for work as a paralegal or entry-level police positions.
  • Bachelors Degree -- A four-year degree from a public or private university
  • Masters Degree -- An advanced degree, usually awarded after a two-year course of study. An advanced degree in criminal justice usually equates to higher pay in law enforcement and criminal justice careers.
  • Juris Doctor degree -- This is the most common law degree in the United States.

Criminal justice and law degree admission requirements

To earn a criminal justice degree, all schools require students to have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. Most four-year universities require that applicants take one of the college admission exams, the ACT or the SAT. In addition, some schools require a personal interview as part of the admission process.

Applicants for masters and doctorate degree programs must have first earned an undergraduate degree in a related field.

Careers available with a criminal justice and law degree

A degree in criminal justice and law qualifies students for any number of careers. These include careers in law enforcement, forensic science, criminology and law. A graduate could become a police officer, a prison official or guard, a parole officer, a paralegal or a lawyer.

Salary and job prospects for criminal justice and law degree holders

There is a vast salary range in jobs to be had with a criminal justice and/or law degree. Salaries in this field depend on the degree, the position, the employer and, to some extent, the region of the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a police officer makes a median annual salary of $60,270. The median annual salary for a forensic technician is $56,320 and the median annual salary for a lawyer is $115,820.

If you like helping people, solving difficult problems and contributing to the good of the community, a career in criminal justice and law might be the right career for you.

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