Crime is present in any society and nation in the world and there is always a need for people who help solve it or decrease it. These people love a good mystery and are willing to spend time and effort in deciphering and explaining criminal behavior.
For those who are obsessed with Law and Order or CSI and who see themselves solving mysteries in their daily lives, a criminal justice degree is perfect. But aside from what people see on TV, there is not much idea about what you can do with a masters in Criminal Justice.
This article will help solve a few misconceptions about the branch, list skills acquired through the graduate degree, explain categories of careers and answer the burning question of “What can I do with a Masters in Criminal Justice?”, by listing and describing some job positions.
What Is Criminal Justice?
Criminal justice is a wide topic. It encompasses the whole legal enforcement, court, and jail systems which maintain order and try to mitigate crime. People who work in criminal justice will be the gatekeepers of the legal system, ensuring that its laws and regulations are upheld to the highest standard.
Completing a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice means that you will be facing a range of challenging courses which will build the necessary skills for you to work in different legal and court departments.
Some core courses you will be taking in such a masters program are:
- Applied Crime Prevention
- Applied Statistics for Criminal Justice
- Police Effectiveness
- Advanced Research Methods in Criminal Justice
- Organizational and Structural Aspects of the Criminal Justice System
As you can see, the degree combines both theoretical and quantitative skills to develop a sound criminal justice worker who will be able to spot legal inefficiencies and classify criminal behavior. After completing the core courses of criminal justice, students can specialize in many areas.
Specializations in Criminal Justice
- Corrections and case management – through which students get in depth knowledge and skills in management, administration, and the navigation of jails and prisons, and the penal systems.
- Computer Crime – which is a challenging and constantly evolving field. Students learn how to spot and solve cybercrime, trace computers, and detect related offenses.
- Criminalistics – which involves investigation, forensics, evidence collection and processing, writing reports, and other skills.
Criminal justice is often confused with criminology and criminalistics, but the difference is that criminal justice includes both of the other topics, since it is such a wide encompassing field.
The Masters Degree in Criminal Justice gives insights about how our systems actually work, how to get a better understanding of criminals and how to navigate their behavior. People who specialize in criminal justice are always needed in any legal system, so the job prospects are varying and include different skills.
Criminal Justice Skills
A Masters in Criminal Justice degree is valuable and gives its holder a variety of skills and knowledge which they can apply in their workplace.
Some of the main skills that people with this graduate degree have are:
Ability to apply ethical standards to issues pertaining to criminal justice
Masters in Criminal Justice are not perfectly proficient in the law, but they are able to distinguish between right and wrong and apply good ethical standards to various issues. That is why they might hold positions which need trust and have high decision making power.
Excellent writing skills
Writing skills are essential communication skills to any field, but Masters in Criminal Justice have exceptional ones. That is because their classes and jobs require them to write extensive reports, policy papers, and proposals for funding.
Their reports are so important that they can make the difference between a trial ending in a conviction, or the accused being set free. If the report is badly written, cases could be lost or the person could never be tried at all.
The legal system is all about facts and those with a Masters in Criminal Justice should be able to find them. Ranging from theoretical to quantitative or data facts, those with this degree should be comfortable in backing up their arguments with solid research.
Graduates with a Masters in criminal justice analyze impacts of public policy, interpret social science data, create and visualize data through presentations and so on.
Good with technology
Criminals are using various technologies to commit offenses, so those who protect the law should be able to keep up. This means that criminal justice degree holders should be proficient with advanced technologies and be able to detect cybercrime to keep the security of their workplace.
Besides these four core skills, a person with a Masters in Criminal Justice should also have the following:
- Understanding of criminal law and the criminal justice system
- Knowledge of legal structures
- Research and quantitative skills
- Ability to identify, analyze, and find solutions for various social problems
- Understanding of the nature of crimes the people’s reaction to them
- Leadership and communication skills
Categories Of Careers In Criminal Justice And Job Positions
The multitude of careers that you can take and all the Masters in Criminal Justice jobs you can find fall into a few categories. Each of these categories have selected duties that they have to do and job positions which they can take. Below we will list the three career categories for Masters in Criminal Justice jobs and a description of some job positions.
Law enforcement careers
This category encompasses the jobs and occupations which deal with the protection of the community and people, the response to emergency, crime prevention, and the apprehension of criminals. Jobs such as police officers, federal agents, and detectives fall into this category.
Law enforcement officers have a variety of duties which they do in a daily basis, such as:
- Keeping records that could be used in testimony
- Enforcing laws
- Responding to emergency calls
- Patrol areas and note suspicious activity
- Get warrants and arrest suspects
- Gather evidence in crime scenes
Some of the most common job positions that one can take within the law enforcement career are:
Private Detective or Investigator
A Private Detective or Investigator will have median annual salary of $45,610.
Private detectives or investigators conduct research on their subjects to find out proof of fraud and or legal misinterpretation. They document the evidence and report it in court or to their clients who could also be private individuals or businesses.
Police patrol officer
A Police Patrol Officer‘s median annual salary is $53,141.
People who work in this job position patrol their assigned areas, enforce local laws, they do traffic regulation and even crowd control for large events.
Police and Detective Supervisor
The median annual salary for a Police and Detective Supervisor is $78,260.
These are the supervisors of detectives and police officers. They schedule, evaluate, and arrange to train police officers and detectives. They make sure that the department is motivated and has strong morale. People in this job position also write reports and assist in investigations.
Supervisory Criminal Investigator
A Supervisory Criminal Investigator could have a median annual salary of $56,821.
Supervisory Criminal Investigators are senior level professionals who assign cases to investigators and detectives. They also assist in developing and implementing departmental policy and are responsible for ensuring that their staff collects all evidence and review shift and investigative reports.
They also determine when the supporting personnel should be called to the crime scene and report on the findings.
Security managers are responsible for protecting and maintaining the security of people, places, and things, as well as manage lower level security personnel. They train new officers as well as plan and implement security standards, policies, and procedures.
The focus in this area of security management is to prevent rather than respond to crime. They monitor large events and try to ensure that all people are safe, but in case of an emergency, police officers are called.
Another category of Masters in Criminal Justice Jobs are criminology careers. These careers combine sociology with criminal specializations to examine criminal behavior in groups, cultures, and organizations, as well as in the entire society. They could either work in the field or in laboratories.
Their duties include:
- Gathering information and research lives of criminals
- Study the causes and effects of crime in populations
- Search for patterns to help other law enforcement professional prevent crime
- Analyze evidence to find links between suspect and crime
- Collect and record observations in the crime scene
Some common job positions in the criminology careers category are:
Forensic Psychologists have a median annual salary of $59,440 and the job is expected to grow 12% in the future years.
People with a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice work with the legal system to assess and understand criminals as well as promote mental health for them. They evaluate the mental health of criminals to decide whether they are fit to stand in trial, recommend courses of action, and assess mental health risks.
Forensic Psychologists could also be called in courts to testify as psychologists or experts. If cases involve children, then they could be required to stand for custody trials and follow up on abuse cases.
The median annual salary of a Criminal Profiler is around $80,000.
Criminal profilers combine various social sciences and fields to tap into the personality of criminals and profile their behavior. They analyze evidence and use scientific methods to hypothesize information about the offenders, such as their age, appearance, education, and the likelihood that they will commit the crime again.
The profiles that these people develop are used to find the criminals and predict what they will do next. They analyze reports, visit crime scenes, testify in court, and work with law enforcement officials.
Forensic Examiners have a median annual salary of $55,360.
Forensic Examiners work in forensic fields such as biological evidence, pathology, engineering, and other areas. They analyze the evidence left in the crime scene in their labs and can testify in court. They work alongside legal specialists but can also be hired in the private sector for insurance issues or expert witnesses.
In the last category is Masters in Criminal Justice jobs are the legal careers. These jobs are in the courtroom such as prosecutors, judges, paralegals and others. In these positions, people work to solve and understand crime instead of preventing and apprehending criminals.
Some of the duties include:
- Gathering facts and conducting research
- Assist in preparing for trials
- File legal documents
- Schedule meetings with clients and witnesses
Some of the job positions in this category are:
Director of Court Services
Court Service Directors have a median annual salary of $59,000.
Director of Court Services are expected to design and implement practices and procedures for the court system. They direct and manage programs such as child support enforcement, jury systems, court operations, form creation, and others.
Court Service Directors can also recruit and terminate staff, as well as train other lower level officials.
Attorney General Investigators or District Attorneys
The median annual salary of Attorney General Investigators or District Attorneys is around $60,000.
If you have these job positions, then you will be working in investigating crimes, also doing undercover work and testimony. District Attorneys might serve warrants and collaborate with other agencies on various cases.
Besides these three career categories and their job positions, people with a Masters in Criminal Justice could also become professors. They could teach criminology, law, crime psychology and others. However, in order to become a full time professor, they would also need to complete their PhD, as most universities require their professors to be experts in their fields.