Career opportunities for Criminal Justice Majors

Majoring in criminal justice opens the door to a wide variety of career opportunities in both the public and private sectors. In addition to the well-known and rewarding careers of law enforcement and corrections, students majoring in criminal justice typically pursue challenging careers in the fields of: offender supervision, research and policy analysis, court administration, the legal profession, insurance investigation, teaching, corporate security, and military policing and intelligence. Many of the public service careers offer the added benefit of being more recession-proof than jobs in private industry. NMU’s Introduction to Criminal Justice class is designed to make students fully aware of the different career opportunities in criminal justice for our majors.

Listed below are some of the challenging career categories, primary and support staff opportunities, and examples of different employers within these fields that hire criminal justice majors.

Correctional Services

A large number of people are involved in the supervision, rehabilitation and treatment of offenders during and after they become involved in the criminal justice system.


A wide variety of opportunities exist in more than 5,700 federal, state and county facilities ranging from the “Super Max” prisons, such as Pelican Bay, to local community-based correctional institutions. Within the corrections field there are positions as agency administrators, correctional officers and a variety of support staff opportunities in: counseling, teaching, job training, records management and human resources management.

Law Enforcement         

There are over 20,000 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in the United States employing over 550,000 people. These include: city and suburban police departments, state police departments, county sheriffs offices and federal law enforcement agencies.

In addition to sworn officers, careers in law enforcement also include extensive support staff positions including crime data analyst, evidence technician, fingerprint examiner, firearms instructor, K-9 specialist, pilot, photographer, ballistics expert, crime scene analyst, records manager, public relations officer, human resource officer and crime mapping specialist.

Select agencies include:

  • Inspector Generals
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • U.S. Customs Service
  • Secret Service
  • Chicago Police Department
  • Marquette County Sheriff
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • Michigan State Police

Research and Policy Analysis

Most criminal justice agencies conduct research on the effectiveness of their crime control programs. There are also many federal and state agencies dedicated to criminal justice program evaluation and policy analysis.

Opportunities exist in: program evaluation, intelligence analysis, policy development, grant writing, geographical information systems, and statistical analysis and research.

Job opportunities are available with private and public agencies including:

  • The RAND Corporation
  • Police Executive Research Forum
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • National Council on Crime and Delinquency
  • Bureau of Justice Statistics
  • National Institute of Justice
  • Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • Asset Forfeiture Office
  • Violence Against Women Office
  • Office of Victims of Crime
  • Bureau of Justice Assistance
  • Office of Weed and Seed
  • Office of National Drug Control Policy
  • Office of International Criminal Justice
  • Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority


Opportunities exist at the federal, state, and local level within the more than 17,000 various adult and juvenile, criminal, and civil courts – both trial and appellate. In addition to the position of judge or magistrate, staff positions include jobs in: court administration, records management, case administration, and research and policy development.

Legal Field         

There are extensive public service opportunities in all 50 states at the more than 8,000 federal, state and local prosecutors or public defenders offices.

Numerous opportunities exist in: the private sector in criminal defense, personal injury, corporate law, or municipal law. While many opportunities also exist in: law firms – public and private – in paralegal work, legal research, law library management, and office management. 

Select agencies include:

  • U.S. attorney’s offices
  • Federal defenders offices
  • State attorney general’s offices
  • County prosecutors
  • Public defenders offices
  • Legal departments in private corporations


Following the completion of a master’s or eventually a doctorate in criminal justice or criminology, opportunities exist for teaching at the community college or university level.

There are more than 600 criminal justice education programs in the United States and many more in foreign countries such as England, Australia and New Zealand. Available positions include college lecturer, instructor or professor. 

Insurance Fraud Investigation

Insurance companies typically maintain a fraud department to prevent and investigate fraudulent claims for payment. 

Job opportunities exist within companies such as:

  • State Farm
  • Allstate
  • Prudential
  • Met Life

Corporate and Industrial Security

A significant number of opportunities exist in this arena. These range from traditional asset protection to advanced computer security and industrial espionage protection. Some people work for large security companies such as Pinkertons, while others are employed as members of thousands of corporations or businesses such as: Motorola, Ford Motor Company, Lucent, IBM and Microsoft. There are also opportunities in public institutions such as hospitals, airports, port facilities and rail terminals.

U.S. Armed Services

The U.S. armed forces maintain their own law enforcement branches and judicial systems. Opportunities exist within the military police, naval investigative service, judge advocate general’s offices and in military intelligence. Consider an ROTC minor for a career in the U.S. Military.