Focusing your career in corrections enables you to pursue several job options at different levels, such as case manager, drug treatment specialist, correctional officer, parole officer and probation officer. Each of these areas includes management positions, and earning your master’s degree in criminal justice could make you more competitive for a higher-level opening.
Correctional officers make up the largest part of the prison workforce, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. They enforce regulations while also supervising and counseling inmates. Case managers work directly with inmates during their incarceration to help them progress to release. Drug treatment specialists have the dual responsibility of educating inmates on substance abuse treatments as well as managing and determining eligibility for treatment programs. Once inmates are released, the parole officer helps ensure they don’t commit any additional crimes. Probation officers focus on non-incarcerated offenders and supervise their actions and behaviors. While each position handles a different aspect within the correctional system, they’re all integral in helping reduce the recidivism rate.
Salaries in this field vary greatly depending on the specific position. At the higher end are parole officers and correctional officers who earn an average of $50,000 and $43,000 respectively, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Managers in these areas could earn higher salaries.
4. Criminal/intelligence analyst
While some duties may vary between a crime analyst, intelligence analyst and a forensic science technician, each position focuses on evidence in one way or another. Whether it’s collecting evidence directly from a crime scene, reviewing forensic reports or performing analysis in the lab, this area of criminal justice helps facilitate criminal investigations.
Because these positions have a more scientific focus, it’s often preferred that you have an undergraduate degree in a natural science, like biology or chemistry, before pursuing your master’s degree in criminal justice. You will also need to be prepared for extensive on-the-job training.
Salaries vary based on the role and responsibilities, but on average, the salary for a criminal/intelligence analyst is $57,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. There is also above-average potential for job growth in this area.
5. Local law enforcement management
Becoming a part of your local police force or sheriff’s department is an admirable way to serve your community. Joining the local force doesn’t necessarily require a higher degree of education, but a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice can be helpful when applying for management positions. The advanced degree could prove valuable in job negotiations, either for salary increases or promotions to management roles.
These include roles such as supervisor, lieutenant and police chief. Most of these positions require you to have the appropriate skills to supervise other individuals and coordinate activities within the police force.
Your eligibility for higher-level management positions can increase after gaining a few years of experience in law enforcement and displaying values of professionalism. In fact, the International Association of Chiefs of Police highlighted possible strong qualities of police chiefs to be active listening, education, attention to detail and resourcefulness, among others.
Another important management position within law enforcement is police lieutenant. This position has supervisory responsibilities and can earn a salary range between $49,000 and $123,000, according to Payscale.