Some different types of careers in criminal justice include corrections officer, loss prevention, transportation security, and court clerk. A criminal justice program will familiarize a student with basic concepts within each career field and enable them to be prepared for entry level positions. Find a criminal justice degree program.

Different Careers in Criminal Justice

Corrections Officer

Depending on where you work, you may be fine getting a job with only your high school diploma or GED; if you have military experience, even better. Some districts may require you to have two years of experience and several corrections college courses. Agencies require you to be between 18-21 with no felony convictions, and you must be a permanent resident of the U.S. You will have to complete training through the academy. If you want to eventually work on the Federal level, then you’ll need to get a bachelor’s degree combined with 1-3 years of experience. The median annual salary for corrections officers is about $44,300. While the top 10 percent earned over $76,000.

Police Officer

Unless your plan is to work for the Federal government, which takes a bachelor’s degree, you can enter police academy with a high school diploma or GED. You’ll have to pass certain physical and emotional standards, have no felonies, and not have a drug addiction. Once you’ve established yourself in the police force, you can expect to make an average of about $63,000 annually. However, factors like location, department, and experience can impact your pay significantly. The highest 10 percent of police officers and detectives earned more than $106,090 in 2018. Find a local criminal justice school.

Paralegal

To start, a student must graduate high school or get their GED to become a paralegal. There are paralegal degree programs available though sometimes a lawyer will hire someone right from high school and train them to be their legal assistant. To move up the ladder you may need to get your certification from the National Association for Legal Assistants. It’s voluntary, but some employers like to see it on a resume. For more, read what does a paralegal do?

Police Dispatcher

Like most other positions in criminal justice, you’ll first need a high school diploma or GED, and you should have decent typing skills. You need to be aged 18 at minimum to work as a police dispatcher. You also can’t have any felonies on your record. As as police dispatcher, you take emergency calls, help the callers, and send out emergency vehicles. You’ll receive on-the-job training, so no post-secondary education is required. However, most states will require you to become Emergency Medical Dispatcher certified, along with some continuing education every couple of years. The median annual salary for a police dispatcher was $40,660 in 2018, topping out at over $63, 000 for the top 10%.

Transportation Security Officer

You’ll be working at an airport, following the Department of Homeland Security policies and procedures. With just a high school diploma or GED and a clear background check, you can start an entry level position. You need to pass the training program and become certified, which is renewed annually through continuing education and training. There is upward mobility within the TSA once you start gaining experience. The median annual salary for a transportation security screener in 2018 was $40,960 according to BLS.

Court Clerk

For an entry level court clerk position, you typically just need a high school diploma or GED—some court systems do require a two-year degree, however. Court clerks complete administrative duties, such as helping file legal complaints or collecting court fees. Job duties will depend on the court you work for and the amount of experience you already have. The more experience you have, the more upward mobility you’ll see. Your salary will depend on factors such as jurisdiction, court, and your position. The median salary was $41,100 for 2018 with the top 10% earning about $60,330.

Online criminal justice degree programs are available in many locations across the U.S.

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