Published: July 19, 2023

When people think about criminal justice, they usually think about police work or lawyers. While law enforcement is a significant component of the field, that’s not all you can do with a criminal justice degree.

“The field of criminal justice breaks down into three main components: law enforcement, the courts and corrections,” says Karen Casey, professor of criminal justice at Lynn University. “The jobs you can get with a criminal justice degree are wide and varied—everything from working security to being a corrections officer to investigating murder to fighting terrorism.”

Learn about the job opportunities available to you with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.


Corrections refers to the system that oversees people who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or those serving time in jail or prison. It also includes overseeing offenders who are serving sentences under correctional supervision in the community. Jobs in corrections include:

Parole or probation officer

Parole and probation officers help manage law offenders who are on probation or parole.

  • Probation officers monitor people who have been placed on probation rather than being sent to prison. They write reports detailing the probationer’s treatment plan and report on the probationer’s progress.
  • Parole officers assist people who have been released from prison and are serving parole to re-enter society. Parole officers also monitor parolees and provide them with resources they need.


Bailiffs are law enforcement officials who help maintain order and safety in courtrooms. They enforce courtroom rules, escort witnesses and prisoners, assist judges, deliver court documents, guard juries and provide general security for courthouses.

Correctional officer

Correctional officers oversee individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to jail or prison time. They enforce rules in jails and prisons, supervise inmate activity, report on inmate conduct and transport and escort inmates.

Case manager

In the criminal justice system, people with the job title case manager help offenders find resources they need to be healthy and law-abiding citizens. Case managers track people’s progress, report information to supervisors and monitor any conditions a supervising agency has mandated. Case management may start while an offender is in jail or prison and then continue during the transition and release periods.

Law enforcement

The Bureau of Justice Statistics defines law enforcement as “the agencies and employees responsible for enforcing laws, maintaining public order and managing public safety.” Many people are drawn to these jobs because they want to serve their community.

“Most people who go into criminal justice are public-service types who want to be good citizens and help people,” Casey says. “In addition to local police officers, there are jobs throughout the local, state and federal levels, as well as at nonprofit agencies, that provide services for offenders and victims.”

Some examples of jobs in law enforcement may include:


Detectives gather facts and collect evidence related to criminal cases, sometimes while in uniform and sometimes in plainclothes. They typically investigate serious crimes and conduct interviews, analyze records, monitor suspects and assist with arrests and raids.

Drug enforcement

Drug enforcement professionals enforce controlled substance laws and regulations. They help shut down the operations of, and arrest criminals who are involved in, the growing, manufacturing and/or distribution of illicit controlled substances. They may investigate and prepare violators for prosecution, seize and forfeit assets related to illicit drug trafficking and enforce provisions of the Controlled Substances Act in the U.S.

The U.S. Marshals Service

U.S. Marshals Service professionals enforce federal laws and provide support to the federal justice system. Their duties may include providing federal court facilities with safety and security measures, arresting criminals, monitoring the security and transportation of federal prisoners to correctional facilities, seizing assets gained by illegal means, collecting and disbursing funds and facilitating safety and security for government witnesses and their families.

Department of Homeland Security

The mission of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is to secure the nation from threats. The DHS consists of 11 components, according to the DHS site. Each one has career potential in the following areas.

  1. Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD)
  2. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
  3. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
  4. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  5. Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC)
  6. Federal Protective Service (FPS)
  7. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  8. Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  9. United States Coast Guard (USCG)
  10. U.S. Secret Service (USSS)
  11. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

“Homeland security offers a wide variety of opportunities for people who are willing to travel the country,” Casey says. “These agencies often respond to crises and require people who are flexible and willing to respond to the need when it arises.

“From responding to natural disasters on behalf of FEMA to guarding the border in a crisis, these jobs are sure to provide excitement and excellent opportunities for growth,” Casey adds.

Fraud and financial crimes

Fraud and financial crimes are often non-violent crimes that can have multimillion-dollar (or more) implications for individuals, businesses and even governments.

“Those working in fraud and financial crimes investigate such complex crimes as embezzlement, political corruption, corporate malfeasance, money laundering, elder financial abuse and other related crimes,” Casey says.

Investigators in fraud and financial crimes may specialize in such areas as:

Private investigation

Private investigators in finance and fraud investigate financial matters. They provide services like interviewing people to gather information, verifying people’s statements and backgrounds, searching court records to find clues, conducting surveillance and collecting evidence.

Government investigation

Government investigators investigate corruption and financial crime related to local, state and federal government. These crimes may include money counterfeiting, embezzlement, insider trading and Ponzi schemes.

Fraud investigation

Fraud investigators investigate white-collar crime, including health care fraud, corporate fraud, money laundering, securities and commodities fraud, mortgage and financial institution fraud as well as intellectual property theft and piracy. Investigators work with various law enforcement agencies and private sector partners to investigate white-collar crime cases.


Security professionals help keep people safe and ensure business operations are protected from criminal activity. There are many different roles in this important field.

“Private security is a fast-growing field, and opportunities for such positions are plentiful,” Casey says. “Security work ranges from serving as a security guard in industrial settings—like stores and office buildings or protecting people and property—to working as a gambling surveillance officer in casinos.”

Jobs in security may include:

Private security

Private security guards are hired to help ensure security for specific people, events and/or locations. They assess situations, monitor threats, advise their clients and use safety measures to protect those they’re in charge of securing.

Gambling surveillance officer

Gambling surveillance officers offer security measures for casinos. They use video and audio equipment, watch casino operations for suspicious activities like theft and cheating, and monitor compliance with laws, regulations and other rules.

Gambling investigators

Gambling investigators conduct or assist in conducting investigations into criminal activity at casinos. They may maintain, organize and access security camera records to collect evidence and assist police investigations.

Victim advocacy

Victim advocacy is a crossover field with social and human services.

“When you work in victim advocacy, you’ll provide support and assistance to crime victims, including helping them process decisions, explaining their options to them and making referrals to other agencies and resources,” Casey says. “Victim advocates may also accompany victims to court hearings.”

Common job responsibilities of a victim advocate include:

  • Assisting clients with the necessary steps they need to complete in the criminal justice system
  • Communicating with clients to ensure programs are provided and clients receive the assistance they need
  • Connecting clients with community services and benefits
  • Coordinating services provided to clients
  • Determining what type of aid clients need
  • Helping clients complete paperwork to receive services and resources
  • Researching services available to clients

Sometimes, people who study for an online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice may pursue work in social and human services as it relates to criminal justice. Various job roles may include case work aide, social work assistant and human service worker. Titles like these may work in victim advocacy.

Earn an online bachelor’s degree in criminal justice

Casey is optimistic about the criminal justice field and welcomes students with diverse interests to consider careers in this area.

“We need strong, educated leaders who are excited, who can deal with complicated problems and who think about social problems in a new way,” Casey says.

If earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice could help you meet your career goals, find out more about Lynn University’s online B.A. in Criminal Justice. Contact us for more information.

Notes and conditions - PLEASE READ

Employment and career advancement: Actual outcomes vary by geographic area, previous work experience and opportunities for employment. Lynn University does not guarantee employment placement or career advancement.

About the Author

Lynn University

Take your education to the next level with Lynn University's high-quality, flexible and affordable online bachelor's degree programs. Whether you're interested in business, education, communication, aviation, criminal justice or the arts and sciences, you'll find something here for you. Explore programs led by established faculty members who are passionate about your success.