Salary Statistics and Job Prospects for Graduates

With a degree in criminal justice, you’ll be afforded a variety of job opportunities. Depending on your area of specialty, you can work as a crime scene investigator, police officer, drug enforcement agent, or juvenile court counselor. These jobs often pay well, but your exact salary will depend on a number of factors, including area of specialty, professional experience, and level of education. Let’s take a look at the average salary you’ll earn as a criminal justice graduate, along with how to make more money in this field.

Criminal Justice Salary by Job Title

Let’s start by looking at the salaries you can expect based on job titles. As previously noted, criminal justice is a very broad field that encompasses a wide variety of fields, including, but not limited to, law enforcement, courts/judiciary, corrections, forensic science, private security, and juvenile justice administration. Here are some common roles criminal justice students take after graduation, along with average salaries (Source:

  • Legal Secretary: $42,940
  • Paralegal: $50,080
  • Mediator: $63,250
  • Court Reporter: $52,460
  • Police Officer: $55,180
  • Federal Government Law Enforcement: $73,170
  • FBI Special Agent: $48,159
  • FBI Supervisor: $89,115
  • Forensics Technologist: $55,070
  • Probation Officer: $50,500

Jobs in the criminal justice field frequently have a need for overtime work and there are usually many opportunities to utilize this and increase pay significantly. With these extra hours, you can expect to make up to $20,000 more annually. By taking this into account, there’s definitely a chance to make a six-figure salary in many of these fields as you gain experience.

Salary by Location

Location is going to be a factor in salary in almost every field. In criminal justice, you’ll typically be paid more in areas where there’s a high need and/or areas with higher costs of living. At the same time, when demand is higher, you’ll often see that the candidate field is much more competitive than in lower paying areas with less demand. Locations that pay most in criminal justice depend on your job title, but here are the top-paying states for police officers, which is one of the most common job choices for criminal justice degree students (Source:

  • California: $78,690
  • New Jersey: $77,660
  • District of Columbia: $67,830
  • Illinois: $66,050
  • Washington: $64,620

Keep in mind that you’ll typically earn more as a police officer or any kind of criminal justice worker if you work in a large city. For example, while Illinois is at the top of the list of highest paid positions list, you’ll earn much more if you work in Chicago than if you work in a rural area of the state.

How to Improve Your Salary Prospects

A plethora of factors can impact a salary in any area and criminal justice is no different. Want to make more money as a graduate with a criminal justice degree? Here are some of your options:

  • Go back to school – The more education you have, the more money you’ll likely make. If you currently have a bachelor’s degree, you might want to consider earning your master’s degree in a specialized field. This will help your chances of getting a raise and/or promotion. Some jobs require a master’s degree, which automatically increases your salary potential.
  • Seek security clearances to you can take leadership roles – Many government positions have particular security clearances that open pathways to sets of jobs that those without the credentials cannot apply for. Seeking certain security clearances can open up great job opportunities.
  • Get certified in a specialized field – If available in your area, having a specialty is another good way to differentiate yourself from the other individuals applying for certain positions. Rarely will you be in a job where you’ll be “doing a bit of everything”, so look for ways to refine your skill set and be better than others.
  • Choose your employer carefully – Some employers pay much more than others. Sometimes getting a better paying job is as simple as finding an employer who is willing to pay you more to do the same job you are already doing.
  • Work more overtime – It seems simple enough, but if you want more money, work more. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t want to work more, work smarter and refer to one of the factors above.

Degrees in Criminal Justice

Criminal justice degrees are very versatile and can open new career opportunities in a variety of related fields. It is important to note that curriculum can vary greatly from school to school. It is essential, therefore, to find out as much as possible about each program before applying. Considerations when choosing a degree include:

  • Degree program length and options (online or campus)
  • Subject focus of the program such as forensics, criminal justice, homeland security, etc.
  • Job opportunities and career outlook after graduation

For your convenience, accredited schools offering criminal justice degres are listed below:

Ashford University
Ashford University

  • WASC
Kaplan University
Kaplan University

  • HLC
  • NCA
South University
South University

  • SACS
Northcentral University
Northcentral University

  • HLC
  • NCA

Click to see more colleges offering Criminal Justice degrees