The field of law enforcement offers opportunities for different career paths where people with various skills and abilities can utilize their knowledge in order to help the community. Even though for some jobs, like that of a police officer, no specific degree is required, a law enforcement degree can give you better chances for career growth and can open the doors to a great variety of positions.
If you are wondering whether it is worth investing in a law enforcement degree, keep in mind that there are various courses included in the different criminal justice programs offered by colleges and universities throughout the country. As a result of the specific field that you will choose to specialize in – criminal justice, law, criminal psychology, sociology, you can find a career in law enforcement that best matches your skills and interests. Here is a list of 20 jobs that you can get with a law enforcement degree – starting with some of the most popular ones and adding a few that you probably didn’t know you could apply for. You can also check our Ultimate Law Enforcement Career List With Salaries before you start browsing the job openings.
One of the most popular jobs in law enforcement is that of a police officer. While a law enforcement degree is not specifically required to start an entry level position, it will definitely help you grow faster in a department. The main duties of the police officer include patrolling neighborhoods in order to detect and prevent criminal activity, responding to calls and complaints, interacting with suspects, witnesses and victims, and writing reports. There is a constant demand for police officers at all levels of law enforcement. The working hours may vary depending on the department and the job requires working shifts. The salary of a police officer varies between $33,879 and $88,986 depending on the place of work, years of experience, and level of education. There are certain factors that can stop you from becoming a police officer such as drug use, criminal history or bad credit history, so make sure that you meet all the criteria prior to applying for a job or a college degree.
State troopers are responsible for traffic safety and enforcement of laws that regulate things such as speeding, seat belt usage as well as usage, size and equipment of commercial vehicles. Each state has a number of troopers employed in it. They have the right to not only to issue tickets but also arrest people who violate traffic laws and can assist local and federal law enforcement officers in the apprehension of criminals whenever necessary. The average rate of pay of a state trooper is similar to that of a police officer with the median salary being $54,480.
Becoming an FBI Agent is one of the most desired and prestigious jobs in law enforcement. Working for the FBI means to be prepared for performing various tasks and having different responsibilities related to federal law enforcement. FBI Agents may specialize in different fields and there are five main spheres of work:
- Computer Science/Information Technology
Here, the type of law enforcement degree determines the career path of the agent as well as their possibilities for further growth or transfer between departments. The salary of an FBI agent can vary significantly depending on their duties and experience and is usually in the range $37,821 – $119,349.
Working for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is another possible job that you can get after finishing your studies. As an ATF Agent your main responsibilities will be investigating crime that is related to violations of the Federal laws governing firearms, explosives, arson, alcohol and tobacco products. There are different departments within ATF that require different knowledge and skills. Along with the salary that varies between $34,865 to $57,093 once you start, you can expect additional benefits such as low-cost health and life insurance, tax-deferred Thrift Savings Plan and a health improvement program.
US Secret Service Special Agent
The US Secret Service is primarily associated with the protection of the President and other higher officials. In reality, Secret Service Special Agents have much more responsibilities and perform a variety of tasks. The Secret Service takes care of the integrity of the financial system of the United States and is responsible for deterring and preventing cyber-attacks on banks and other financial institutions, identifying counterfeit currency and taking it out of circulation and dealing with criminals performing financial crimes threatening the country. As a Secret Service Agent you can expect a salary that starts at $49,746 and grows with your experience or respective level of education.
A degree in law, forensics, language, or criminal justice will help those who want to become special Agents at the Central Intelligence Agency. Working for CIA means to work often undercover, on dangerous missions, and to be ready to travel a lot since the CIA conducts investigates all over the world. The level of difficulty and the required knowledge and skills associated with the job also determine the salary a CIA Agent receives. Those based in the headquarters in Washington, DC can expect between $74,872 and 136,771 as per CIA site. Along with the minimum requirement of a Bachelor’s degree there is also a need of at least 3 years of experience in criminal investigation with excellent track record.
Crime Scene Investigator
Crime scene investigators work in the field of forensic science, which has seen a significant growth in the demand of specialists in the past years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the employment rate is expected to grow by 17% between 2016 and 2026, which is higher compared to other law enforcement fields. The main duty of crime scene investigators is to collect evidence in the field and then analyze it in the lab thus providing invaluable information about the crime, the possible perpetrators and helping reconstruct the entire story. The median pay for the job stands at $57,850 per year.
Computer Forensics Investigator
With the development of technology much more crimes are committed with the help of computers or other electronic devices. Hence, the profession of Computer Forensics Investigators gains popularity. If you have a degree in forensic science, computer science or criminal investigation, this might be the right career for you. Your main responsibilities will include reconstructing data and activities on electronic media and preventing criminals from destroying computer-based evidence. The salary may vary between $43,419 – $115,145 depending on the skills and qualifications of the Computer Forensics Investigator
Forensic Science Technician
If you have passion for science and math and you pursue a degree related to them, one of the possible law enforcement jobs you can choose is that of the Forensic Science Technician. Your main responsibilities will be to reconstruct events using and examining evidence such as fingerprints, hair samples and the like. Your workplace can be a lab, hospital, courtroom, etc. The median annual salary for the job is $57,850 as per the BLS data but might be much higher in states with greater demand for such specialists such as California, Illinois and Virginia.
If you have combined interest in social work and the criminal justice system, the job of a Probation Officer will be the right one for you. Your main duties will be to work with parolees who were released from various correctional facilities and make sure that they abide by the terms and conditions of their parole. The interaction includes visiting their homes and work places as well as meeting with friends and relatives. The position is suitable for people who want to make a difference in the life of a person and help enforce the law using different approaches. The expected median salary is $51,410 per year according to BLS.
More and more departments throughout the country employ crime analysts. If you want to become one, you need to work hard in order to prove that you are a successful candidate for the position. The main duties of a crime analyst include identifying and analyzing trends in crime so that they can help solve or prevent crime. Crime analysts do not visit crime scenes or collect evidence, their job is just to analyze and interpret the information they have. A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, criminology, psychology, sociology or public administration is required for the position. A crime analyst gets $46,720 on average per year.
The U.S. Marshals Service is one of the oldest law enforcement agencies, which employs more than 3,843 Deputy Marshals and Criminal Investigators. US Marshals have versatile duties that include protecting federal judicial officials, transporting prisoners, conducting fugitive investigations, carrying out special missions and tactical operations, managing and disposing of seized and forfeited properties acquired by criminals through illegal activities, protecting witnesses and operating the Witness Security Program. A bachelor’s degree and knowledge of police work, foreign languages and criminal justice are part of the assets of a successful US Marshal. As per the official website the starting salary stands at $45,371.
Border Patrol Agent
The job of the Border Patrol Agent is to secure the international land border and coastal waters thereby protecting people from terrorist attacks, weapons and drugs smuggling as well as illegal entry of undocumented people. The main tasks to perform include detecting and apprehending undocumented people, responding to electronic sensor alarms in remote areas, performing traffic checkpoint operations, city patrol and much more. There are different career paths for Border Patrol Agents that include Horse Patrol, K-9 Unit, Riverine operations, Mobile response team. U.S. Customs and Border Protection provides a starting salary of $52,583 per year with many career growth opportunities.
Fish and Game Warden
Becoming a Fish and Game Warden is the ideal solution for people who like an active life outdoors and love nature. Your workplace can be in national parks, forest preserves or various protected recreational and conservational areas. The main responsibility of the fish and Game Warden is to protect wild life and their natural habitat and to make sure that visitors to such places are also kept safe. There is a greater demand for such officers in states like Florida and Texas that have many busy natural parks and areas. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hires game wardens at different levels with the lowest salary starting at $34,319.
US Postal Inspector
Postal Inspectors are employed by the United States Postal Inspection Service to investigate crimes such as theft, vandalism, identity theft or fraud related to US mail. To perform their duties, postal inspectors use a variety of techniques including research and witness questioning in order to solve a crime. In addition to the required 4-year degree, all candidates undergo special 12-week training on the job. PayScale reports an average salary of $62,069 per year for the position of a postal inspector.
Diplomatic Security Agent
The job of a Diplomatic Security Agent is not mentioned that often as one of the careers to pursue with a law enforcement degree. Nevertheless, it is quite important as it ensures the safety of US diplomatic relations. The agents are responsible for the safe keeping of ambassadors and providing them with a secure way of doing their job. A degree in criminal justice or similar area is required to apply for the job. The successful candidate should not be older than 37 and a military background is a great benefit. Diplomatic security agents start at level 9 pay scale, which means that their salaries range between $43,857 and $51,623.
As a Document Examiner your job is to make sure that no forged or fraudulent documents will end up as evidence in the court room. A strong attention to detail along with a criminal justice degree are the main requirements of the position. As a document examiner you can work for police departments or courts in tight cooperation with legal counsel or judges. Such an expert can easily find a job in private law firms or companies that deal with sensitive information. The salary to expect is similar to that of a Forensic Science Technician – $57.850 per year.
IRS Criminal Investigator
The Criminal Investigators working for IRS deal with crimes related to the misuse of tax laws. Being good with numbers and accounting is a must for this position. Special agents actually play the role of investigative accountants. All new employees get comprehensive training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, located in Glynco, Georgia. IRS lists a salary of $50,638 for an Agent starting the job that grows with experience and education.
Loss Prevention Specialist
The job of a Loss Prevention Specialist is perfect for a person who has a law enforcement degree but would rather work in the private sector than in a police department. Most retail stores, for example, have their own security department dealing with theft. The responsibility of a loss prevention specialist is to identify internal and external threats. The average base pay that you can expect on the position is $32,473 as per the information provided by Glassdoor.
Crime Victims Service Coordinator
The role of the Crime Victims Service Coordinator is very important in the process of restoring the life of a victim back to reality. This job often falls beneath the radar when it comes to law enforcement careers, however it plays a significant role. Crime service coordinators help the victims and their relatives not only to overcome their emotional burden but also with everyday tasks like scheduling appointments or other arrangements that resulted from the crime. They can also act as victim’s advocate and represent children in court in the event an older relative is absent. PayScale reveals a salary between $24,853 and $49,133 for this position.
This is far from a comprehensive list of the jobs that you can pursue with a law enforcement degree. It gives you an idea of some of the most sought after and a few not so well known careers that require various skills and abilities. The overall conclusion is that a law enforcement degree is worthy since it gives you many options for career growth in the sphere. Make sure to find the right program for you that best matches your interests so that you can find your realization in law enforcement upon graduation.