Have you always been intrigued by how a strand of hair, or thread of a carpet can tell the story of a crime and bring criminals to justice? Perhaps you’ve thought of becoming a police officer, and helping to protect your community and beyond.
Criminal Justice is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities within the industry, are expected to grow by at least 11% by the year 2016.
Legal, law enforcement and corrections jobs are plentiful in today’s job market, and a college degree or diploma will certainly give you an edge over non-college graduates, as well as increase your entry salary in the field.
Did you know that college graduates earn on average about $15,000 more per year than people who haven’t earned a college degree?
The large field of Criminal Justice encompasses careers from legal secretaries to FBI agents to police officers. The salaries and educational requirements vary greatly from job to job. Here is a snapshot of some careers in Criminal Justice, and their respective salary ranges.
Criminal Justice Jobs and Salary Ranges
According to the 2008 National Association of Legal Assistants survey, paralegals earned an average salary of over $50,000 last year, including bonuses. Some higher-level paralegals made over $80,000.
Legal Secretary Salaries
Legal secretaries earned a median salary of $39,860 in 2008, but the highest 10 percent earned more than $62,290.
Law Office Manager Salaries
According to payscale.com, law office managers with one to four years of experience earned between $31,482 and $48,087 in 2008. With more experience, they can earn $60,000 or more depending on seniority and responsibilities.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that mediators earned a median income of $59,650 in 2008, but the top 10 percent earned $103,800.
Police Officer Salaries
Police and sheriff’s patrol officers had median annual earnings of $51,410 in 2008, but the highest 10 percent earned more than $79,680. As you work up the chain of command at the police department, your salary also increases significantly. Competition is keen for the higher-paying jobs with state and federal agencies and police departments in more affluent areas.
Federal Law Enforcement Agent Salaries
According to the US Department of Justice, ATF, DEA, IRS, and INS, Secret Service Agents and Deputy US Marshals generally enter the salary schedule at anywhere between $26,000 and $50,000, and salary increases from there with seniority and responsibility. Pay is often increased depending on your locality as you are paid more where the cost of living is higher.
FBI Agent Salaries
According to the FBI, new FBI agents earn between $61,100 and $69,900, depending upon the region of the country to which they are assigned. This includes both locality and availability pay adjustments. New special agents moving to more expensive cities may also receive a one-time relocation bonus of over $20,000 to help offset the more expensive real estate and cost of living in certain cities.
Private Investigator Salaries
Detectives and private investigators earned a median annual salary of $41,760 in 2008, but the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,640. Wages of private detectives vary a lot depending on employer, specialty, and geographic area. Detectives and investigators working for government agencies earned a median income of $62,500.
Security Guard Salaries
Security guards earned median annual wages of $23,460 in 2008, but the highest 10 percent earned more than $39,360.
According to payscale.com, criminologists with one to four years of experience earned between $42,513 and $54,045 per year.
Forensic Science Technician Salaries
Forensic scientists earn a median salary of $52,960 per year, according to the BLS. The top 10 percent earned $80,330. Federal salaries are usually at the higher end of the scale.
Forensic Psychologist Salaries
According to payscale.com, forensic psychologists with one to four years of experience earned between $40,507 and $68,744. With more experience, salaries for forensic psychologists can exceed $100,000.
Corrections Officer Salaries
Corrections officers earned a median annual salary of $38,380 in 2008, but the highest 10 percent earned more than $64,110.
Correctional Administration Salaries
Supervisors and managers of corrections officers earned $57,380 in 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $41,740 and $73,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $86,970.
Correctional Treatment and Probation Officer Salaries
Correctional treatment specialists and probation officers earn a median salary of $45,910, but the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,210. Higher wages are generally found in urban areas.