The salary range for criminal justice careers vary greatly, from around $25,000 a year for a career as a bailiff to a six-figure salary for a successful lawyer. The education and training required for these different careers also varies widely. If you work for a government agency, you will be able to increase your pay as you work your way up through the ranks and show merit at each particular level. In the private sector, on the other hand, experience, education and skill will increase your earnings.
Many factors determine the salary range for criminal justice careers. The following information should, however, help to identify the salary range for some of the most popular criminal justice careers:
• Customs Agent
This entry level career involves the safety and security of items being shipped and luggage being brought into the United States. Your career as a customs agent may require you to question and sometimes even arrest suspects, often in an airport setting. The salary ranges from $23,000 to $45,000 annually.
• FBI Agent
If you dream of becoming an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigations, you will have your work cut out for you. This career requires a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice in most cases, as well as specialized training and security clearance. Your career will take you to dangerous environments and crimes, ranging from white-collar to terrorism. FBI salaries range from $50,000 up into the six-figure range.
If you want to work in the field of law but don’t want to go through the expensive, lengthy and stressful schooling and testing required to become a lawyer, you should consider becoming a paralegal. This legal profession requires at least an associate’s degree, and many employers show preference to those having a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. The additional education will pay off. Entry level paralegals can earn as little as $22,000, but those with the skills to land a job for a federal department can earn well over $60,000 a year.
• Police Officer
When people think of criminal justice, they think of police officers. There are local, regional and federal police departments that you can work for after completing as little as a high school diploma and training certificate program. However, the best jobs go to those with associate’s degrees or bachelor’s degrees. The lower end of the salary range is around $30,000, while higher-level officers earn as much as $90,000 annually.