Criminal Justice Administration Jobs: Salary Info and Requirements

Degree programs in criminal justice typically cover practices and procedures in the justice systems. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for criminal justice administration graduates.

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Essential Information

Degree programs in criminal justice administration cover various aspects and practices of the justice system. Courses in criminal investigation, the court system and crime prevention are included, and students may be allowed to choose an area of specialization, such as corrections or law enforcement. While a degree is not always required for some careers in criminal justice administration, it is becoming increasingly common.

Career Police OfficersDetectivesLawyers
Required EducationHigh school diploma or GED certificate, but a degree can increase job prospects High school diploma or GED certificate, but a degree can increase job prospects; federal agencies require a bachelor's degree Juris Doctor
Other Requirements Law enforcement academy training Law enforcement academy training; some jobs require an exam and a license Must pass state bar exam
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)* 6% for police and sheriff's officers2% for detectives and criminal investigators10%
Median Salary (2013)* $56,130 for police and sheriff's officers $76,730 for detectives and criminal investigators $114,300

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Career Options

Individuals interested in the criminal justice administration field will find several job options available, such as police officer, detective and lawyer. Most law enforcement officers are employed in criminal justice departments at the local, state and federal levels; however, options are also available in the private sector or with security companies. Lawyers may be employed with county, state and federal governments as prosecutors or defense attorneys or as staff attorneys.

Police Officer Salary Information and Educational Requirements

To become a police officer, applicants must have at least a high school diploma or GED equivalent, though it is becoming increasingly common for agencies to hire applicants with some post-secondary education. An associate's or bachelor's degree in criminal justice administration or a related field, such as police science or public administration, can increase appeal to employers as well as the opportunity for a higher salary.

Newly hired police officers typically undergo training at an academy where they learn state laws, regulations and receive training for skills needed on the job. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national median salary for police officers in May 2013 was $56,130 per year; however, earnings can vary according to location, level and the department where the officer is assigned.

Detective Salary Info and Educational Requirements

The educational requirements of a detective are similar to those of police officers, as the majority of police detectives are promoted from that position. To work at the federal level, employers usually require a candidate to have a bachelor's degree, as well as a spotless background check with no prior history of criminal activity. Without previous on-the-job experience, most states require detectives to be licensed and pass an exam. The BLS reported in May 2013 that the median annual salary for a detective at that time was $76,730.

Lawyer Salary Info and Educational Requirements

A lawyer or attorney works in the court system to defend or prosecute criminal offenders or advise people of legal issues. The majority of lawyers work in private practice firms, while some work for corporations, non-profit organizations or the government. The educational requirements to become an attorney are rigorous, with most lawyers completing a bachelor's degree, typically from any field, as well as three additional years in law school and pass a state bar exam in order to practice.

According to the BLS, national employment opportunities for lawyers will increase approximately as fast as average between 2012 and 2022, but competition is expected to be very sharp, as the number of law school graduates continues to be higher than the number of jobs available (www.bls.gov). As of May 2013, the yearly median salary for attorneys was $114,300, as per BLS data.

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