Job Market for Criminal Justice: Will I Get Hired?

With just about any field, you want to have a good idea of the job market before you commit to it. Criminal justice is no exception, and in general the employment situation is very good, much better than a lot of other areas.

But it’s important to understand the potential career paths are so diverse that the  question does not have a quick and dirty answer.

First, “criminal justice” is a very broad umbrella term that can encompass a wide variety of actual jobs. And accordingly, these various career paths will have different prospects that affect your likelihood of landing a job.

For example, most people asking this question are usually interested in working a career of law enforcement.

The job market here is steady and generally positive. We will always need public safety, no matter what shape governmental budgets are in. It isn’t like some other fields that can get drastically cut in an instant.

But his isn’t to say that the job market is booming everywhere. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that for police officers, “continued desire for public safety will result in a need for more officers (but) demand for employment is expected to vary depending on location, driven largely by local and state budgets.”

For those interested in employment in an agency like the CIA or FBI, this is obviously a tough proposition, as you need to have a spotless background and pass a rigorous series of tests. But since these organizations are so crucial for our national security, there will always be openings.

In some other criminal justice fields, like corrections, governmental budget deficits can and do affect hiring patterns, but there will likely be increased private sector offerings in slow times.

This article is also based on the author’s experience in the United States. If you live somewhere else and have found differences, please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

With all this talk about the job market, he more difficult part is figuring out what degree you actually need.

There are some fields where you absolutely need to get a bachelor’s degree to get a particular job. For criminal justice it’s not so simple. There are some good jobs that only require an associate’s degree or even a high school diploma and some training. But a bachelor’s opens up a wide variety of additional opportunities. Also, some require a bahelor’s, but you can have a variety of undergraduate majors. In some cases they might even prefer something other than criminal justice.

So your first task is figuring out what your ideal line of work is. Is it to be a police officer? Working in the corrections system or as a counselor of some sort? Do you want to work on a local, state or federal level? – figure out what exactly you want to do. Browse job sites (, and see what they say for educational requirements.

If you are interested in a criminal justice or criminology career, don’t jump into an educational program without doing your homework. Criminal justice is very popular right now, so there are some unscrupulous schools out there trying to grab your dollars without giving you a degree of much value. Seek more info on schools, the curriculum, faculty and opinions of students and alumni.

Also, some jobs might only require an associates degree or in rare cases just high school plus experience and training. Or if a bachelor’s is required, it might not have to be in criminal justice specifically. So don’t think that you need to jump into a particular program type: it all depends on your ultimate goal.

If you’re curious about the criminal justice job market, what type of position are you shooting for?

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