By: Mark Sturman 1st October 2015

What Can I Do with a Criminal Justice Degree?

Given the rise in the cost of tuition fees, it’s perfectly understandable that you’ll want to give yourself the very best chance of achieving a decent return on your university investment. This is our guide to some of the different jobs you could get with a criminal justice degree to help you make an informed decision about your future. After all, a love of CSI is probably not sufficient grounds on which to base your future.

The difference between criminology and criminal justice

Criminology and criminal justice are very separate disciplines. Criminology is the study of crime, with graduates often going into a range of social welfare posts such as drug rehabilitation and social work. Criminal justice, on the other hand, focuses on the criminal systems such as the workings of the police, courts, prisons and probation, which means criminal justice graduates are more likely to seek employment in the fields of enforcement and law.

Although many criminal justice career paths require additional qualifications or professional training on top of your degree, a criminal justice degree will play a massive part in kick starting your career.

Studying either criminology or criminal justice at degree level will equip you with workplace skills such as high levels of written and oral communication, problem solving, research and critical evaluation. These are not only desirable in the world of criminal justice, but are also applicable to many jobs outside the criminal justice system.

What jobs can you do with a criminal justice degree?

A degree in criminal justice will prepare for a huge range of careers across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Potential employers include police forces, the prison service, central and local government, law practices, The Home Office and The National Criminal Intelligence Service.

As stated above, there are some jobs on this list that will require further qualifications or professional training, but a criminal justice degree is an excellent starting point for all the following jobs:

  • Court clerk – A court clerk is an officer of the court who is responsible for maintaining records and administering oaths to witnesses and jurors.
  • Community and social work – There are many areas of crossover between criminal justice and social care, such as the impact of anti-social behaviour and drug use, which could help you land you a role in the social care sector.
  • Lawyer – A criminal justice degree is a potential first step towards a career as a lawyer. Criminal law and immigration law are two areas where a criminal justice degree could really help. However, further education and training will be required.
  • Police officer – While there are no formal education requirements for entry to the police force, a criminal justice degree will put you in an excellent position. However, you will also need to pass a series of assessment tests before you can join the force.
  • Paralegal – A paralegal carries out a range of legal tasks in a specific area of law, and while they are not qualified solicitors, they can legally undertake some of a solicitor’s work. This could include interviewing clients and witnesses, preparing legal documents and providing legal information.
  • Prison officer – Prison officers supervise adults or young offenders in prisons or young offender institutions. To gain employment in this field you will have to take the Prison Officer Entry Level Training (POELT), an eight-week course that teaches the professional standards you’ll need.
  • Youth offending team officer – Although there aren’t any minimum entry qualifications for this role, many youth offending team workers have degrees in criminal justice, criminology, youth work or social work. You will also need to pass background checks including previous criminal convictions.

This is only a very small sample of the jobs that a criminal justice degree could potentially lead to. Other potential careers for criminal justice graduates include: immigration officer, human rights officer, legal secretary, intelligence officer, political advisor, probation officer, fraud investigator and researcher. Plenty of choice there then!  

For more information about criminal justice careers or for help securing rewarding, well-paid criminal justice jobs in your area, please get in touch with the specialist consultants at Seven Criminal Justice.