There are jobs, pertaining to Law Enforcement, where only a high school education is the minimum requirement (patrol officer, for example). However, more education can be better in terms of job opportunities and possibility for advancement in a Criminal Justice (CJ) career. Here is a sampling of jobs to consider for those who have earned a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice:
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has an ominous ring to it as well as being at or near the apex of Law Enforcement. Agents must also be able to handle rigorous training, personal risks, irregular hours, and extensive travel. Special agents are subject to reassignment to any ATF office in the United States, to include any U.S. Territory or ATF overseas assignment. This is assuming you can pass the rigorous physical test, extensive background examination, drug test, and polygraph examination.
The base salary in 2013 (most recent at ATF site) was $33,829 (Grade 5, Step 1) to $42,948 (Grade 9, Step 1); this includes 25% Law Enforcement Availability Pay, but does not include locality pay. Applicants must have completed a 4-year course of study leading to a bachelor’s degree in any field of study to qualify for Grade 5 or GL-05 level. Advancement to GL-07 can be attained with a master’s or higher degree, in Criminal Justice, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science or a field of study directly related to this position.
The job of a criminal profiler falls somewhere between the fields of law enforcement and psychology. The profiler examines evidence from the crime, interviews witnesses and victims, and analyzes crime scenes. Information gleaned from these investigations can then be used to help the profiler determine a pattern of criminal behavior, which hopefully can be used to find out more about the suspect (and potentially help to catch him or her). Your best bet is to get a dual degree in psychology and criminal justice, and to then gain job experience working in law enforcement, ideally as an investigator.
Salary varies depending on the law enforcement agent that employs you. For example, the FBI uses Special Agents and non-FBI professionals as profilers. Their salary range at the minimum level is $45,771-$59,505. The website salarygenius.com lists Criminal Profiler salaries by state and city. One example is San Francisco, California where the average is $71,234, with the average starting salary at $58,663.
Insurance Fraud Investigator
Insurance investigators research and verify claims to make sure no fraud or cheating is involved. They search records and databases, conduct personal interviews and inspect damaged vehicles, property and buildings. Barring prior experience, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is another path to the job of insurance investigator. A criminal justice program provides a legal background plus the necessary skills in research, investigation and critical thinking. A graduate degree would provide further job possibilities, particularly into management with a major insurer that has a team of fraud investigators.
The average salary is $46,000 according to indeed.com. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have a specific category for this occupation. Investigators are lumped in with Claims Adjusters and Examiners whose average salary is $63,060.
A Security Investigator may be hired by a large corporation to properly execute emergency response activities and perform various processes to protect employees, clients and other visitors relative to physical security. Other requirements may be to perform security investigations, establish and monitor access control, manage contracted security service and life safety programs. Hence, anything related to security and safety with a business containing a substantial staff.
The salary for this job would be affected by the size of the corporation and the number of employees, as well as its need for a highly secure environment. One job posting for a $4+ billion financial institution lists the starting salary at $52,242/year. The site, indeed.com states the average income for a Security Director at $66,000.
For those on their way to earning a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, it’s advisable to research the job prospects for your intended area of employment. Determine if a Master’s degree will be worth the time and expense. For some professions, it may be a necessity, whereas, for others, experience may trump the additional effort to obtain a graduate degree.