Criminologist Salary and Criminal Justice Career Info

If you're considering earning a degree in criminology or criminal justice, chances are you're going to want to think about your earning potential at some point. Certainly, money isn't everything, but it's always a good idea to have an idea of how much you can expect to make when deciding on a career path.Which is exactly why you need to know up front how much money you can earn in a criminal justice job.

For those of you who are on the fence about choosing a career or course of study, or if you're wondering whether a career in criminal justice or criminology will be worth your time, here's a list of the types of jobs available and what you can expect to earn at the start of your career.

Salary data comes from the United States Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, SimplyHired, and, and provides estimated starting ranges, not earning potential over time. Salary may vary significantly based on the level of education, geographical region, and prior experience.

Crime Analyst - $34,000 to $50,000

Dumpster and Crime scene tape
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Crime analysts provide intelligence gathering and statistical analysis services to law enforcement agencies. They detect trends and identify emerging issues that may require police attention or intervention.

Analysts help police commanders determine how to allocate their resources and personnel best to prevent crimes, and they review police reports and other data sources to help investigators solve crimes.

Criminologist - $40,000 to $70,000

FBI and CSI doing research
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Like crime analysts, criminologists study data and trends. Unlike crime analysts, criminologists apply their knowledge to learning how crime affects society.

Criminologists are likely to work in a college or university setting conducting research or with a legislative body making public policy proposals.

They study crime, its causes, and impacts and advise lawmakers and criminal justice agencies on how best to develop appropriate responses to reduce crime on a societal level.

Corrections Officers - $26,000 to $39,000

Prison Warden holds cell keys
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Corrections officers have a very difficult job and are often paid on the lower end of the scale when it comes to jobs in criminal justice and criminology. However, that doesn't take away from the important service they provide.

Corrections officers work in jails, prisons and other correctional facilities and guard prisoners. They serve to protect the inmates they guard from each other as well as protecting the public from the inmates.

Detectives and Criminal Investigators - $36,000 to $60,000

Detectives investigate a crime scene
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If solving a crime is your thing, then working as a detective is a great option for you. Detectives may be assigned to any number of specialized crimes and take on complex investigations that can prove both challenging and fascinating.

Working as a detective provides valuable skills that can be used to advance your career, while at the same time providing enough variety and challenge to spend an entire career.

Typically, working as a detective is not an entry-level job but a transfer or promotion from within the police ranks. If you're considering a career in law enforcement, though, working your way to detective is a great goal to strive for.

Forensic Science Technician - $33,000 to $50,000

A crime scene chalk outline on a wooden floor.
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Forensic science technicians may serve as civilian crime scene investigators or as laboratory technicians. They help collect and analyze evidence and ensure that the chain of custody is maintained.

Forensic science technicians must have a background in the natural sciences and also a respect for, knowledge of and interest in the criminal justice system. Forensic science technicians provide vital support to investigators in solving all sorts of crimes.

Forensic Psychologist - $57,000 to $80,000

A man sitting at a desk with lights pointed at him.
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Forensic psychologists work within nearly every component of the criminal justice system. They may evaluate and counsel inmates, serve as expert witnesses, and determine a suspect's suitability to stand trial or their level of culpability for a crime given their mental status.

Some forensic psychologists work with attorneys as jury consultants, or with law enforcement as criminal profilers. In rare cases, forensic psychologists can find work with only a bachelor's degree in psychology.

To be truly successful and maximize your earning potential, though, you'll want to earn a combination of degrees in psychology, criminology, sociology or criminal justice and advanced degrees in related fields.

Loss Prevention Specialist - $11 to $16 Per Hour

Loss prevention specialists monitor inventory and prevent retail theft.
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Loss prevention is a great entry-level criminology career. Working as a loss prevention specialist can provide the needed work experience for other great careers, such as police or probation officers.

Loss prevention specialists work for retail companies to prevent and mitigate theft by both customers and employees. While earning potential may start low, loss prevention managers can earn upwards of $50,000 per year.

Police Officer - $31,000 to $50,000

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Perhaps one of the first careers that come to mind when you think of criminology, police officers are on the front lines of society's response to crime.

Officers patrol their communities, help disabled motorists, make arrests and help resolve disputes. The primary function of the police is to enforce laws and ordinances, but that role has expanded significantly into all manner of community service.

Working as a police officer can provide opportunities for advancement and necessary experience to move into a detective or investigative position or get hired as a special agent.

Polygraph Examiner - $56,000 (Average)

Polygraph machine
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Polygraph examiners are trained in administering lie detector tests. They receive highly specialized training and are found at all levels of law enforcement as well as in the private sector.

Their services may be used for pre-employment screening or administrative and criminal investigations. While many polygraph examiners are sworn law enforcement officers, it is not necessarily a requirement.

Probation and Community Control Officer - $29,000 to $45,000

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Probation and parole officers supervise people who have been convicted of a crime and released either as part of their sentence or as a reduction of a prison term.

These officers face tremendous challenges in monitoring and counseling people to help them rehabilitate and get their lives back on track.

Probation and community control officers hold probationers and parolees accountable, ensuring they are adhering to the terms of their sentences and that they stay out of trouble.

Special Agents - $47,000 to $80,000

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Special agents work for federal law enforcement agencies and state investigative bodies. Agents typically specialize in areas such as financial crimes, fraud, terrorist task forces, major robberies, and violent crimes.

They take on complex cases and work closely with state and local law enforcement. Agents may be required to travel extensively, perform undercover work and conduct lengthy and extensive investigations.