The Top Criminal Justice Career Profiles
The world of criminal justice represents diverse opportunities for employment. No matter whether you’re interested in crime scene analysis, law enforcement, court administration or criminal psychology, a vast array of career options open up when you earn a master’s in criminal justice.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a sampling of the many career opportunities available to master’s in criminal justice graduates.
Criminal justice management
A variety of roles fall under the umbrella of criminal justice management. Someone who works in this capacity might serve as a police chief or oversee a criminology program. Both of these jobs involve leadership or supervisory duties. Some of the most common jobs in this field include correctional administration, emergency planning and management, federal law enforcement, police administration, risk compliance and security management.
A DEA agent works for the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice. DEA agents are charged with researching the criminal drug industry and prosecuting perpetrators, especially those involved in drug trafficking. This may entail anything from tracking drug-related activity to managing task forces, working undercover, collecting evidence, drafting reports, arresting criminals, testifying in court and more.
Director of court services
A director of court services oversees a variety of administrative functions within a court system. For example, they may be in charge of developing court system procedures and ensuring these procedures are compliant with regulations. They may also manage projects such as conducting financial audits, drafting reports, onboarding new staff and overseeing court functions, including jury systems and child support enforcement.
FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) agent
You’re no doubt familiar with the vision of jacket-clad FBI field agents, frequently depicted on TV. But FBI agents do more than break down doors with guns blazing. They’re responsible for investigating high-profile criminal justice cases involving incidents from terrorism to extortion, drug trafficking, organized crime and white-collar crime. To fulfill their duties, FBI agents may collect evidence, obtain warrants, and testify in court.
Federal air marshal
Federal air marshals are employed by the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) but often work closely with other local and federal law enforcement agencies. They’re primarily charged with protecting passengers and crew on commercial flights. For the most part, air marshals perform their work undercover. They ride along on commercial flights (and the occasional passenger train or other mass transit system) while posing as a regular passenger, but they’re equipped to monitor and address potential threats at a moment’s notice.
Federal probation officer
When a person is released on parole from federal incarceration or placed on probation instead of serving jail time, a federal probation officer is assigned to their case. This officer works to ensure people on parole or probation abide by the appropriate rules and regulations. They also serve as a liaison between parolees and court officials. For the most part, probation officers are employed by government agencies.
Forensic psychologists are concerned with the psychology of criminals. First, they assess the psychological state of suspected or convicted criminals. Second, they administer psychological treatment services for criminals, crime victims and witnesses. And third, they use their knowledge of human behavior to play a role in solving legal disputes around issues such as insurance and custody.
These seven roles represent some of the most common career trajectories for master’s degree holders looking to pursue a career in criminal justice, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg. While many of these roles revolve around law enforcement, there are plenty of other roles that focus on mediation, counseling and rehabilitation. It’s up to you to determine how you want to make your mark in the world of criminal justice.
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