What Types of Jobs Can You Pursue with a Doctorate in Criminal Justice?

Criminal justice line of work

If you’re an individual with a passion to “serve and protect,” there’s an entire list of criminal justice careers potentially waiting for you. These include jobs in investigation firms, international and environmental law, police departments, institutional corrections, and other government agencies such as the FBI and CIA.

If you hold a PhD in criminal justice, your skills, training, and expertise could be instrumental in the research required to craft groundbreaking public safety policies. You may be offered consultancy jobs in various organizations or obtain high-level academic positions in postsecondary learning institutions.

Why Pursue a Doctorate in Criminal Justice?

A doctorate in criminal justice is the highest possible degree you can achieve in the field. The specialization allows insight into how criminal justice agencies work. You will gain an in-depth understanding of the legal system, criminal behavior, as well as prevention and implementation policies that help improve the overall safety of the community.

The required coursework can include modules in justice and social control, advanced criminological theory, criminal justice ethics, philosophy of law, methodologies in quantitative research, and criminal law administration.

Criminal Justice Degree Career Paths

Common career paths for criminal justice doctorate degree holders are in policymaking, teaching, and research. Others may go on to obtain senior positions within their organizations.

Professor of Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement

A doctorate in criminal justice prepares candidates for an academic position. Criminal justice educators facilitate discussions on topics that include law enforcement administration, investigation techniques, and defensive policing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the annual salary estimate for postsecondary teachers in criminal justice and law enforcement range from $36,150 to $110,020.

Forensic Scientist

Forensic scientists analyze physical evidence from crime scenes, such as body fluids, blood spatters, and fingerprints. Their reports and expert testimonies are vital for criminal convictions. A career in forensic science requires a background in chemistry, biology, or forensic science.

BLS data shows that this occupation is expected to grow 17% from 2016 to 2026.

Private Investigator or Detective

If you have a background in law enforcement, a career as a private investigator may just be what you’re looking for. Employment statistics published by the BLS pegs the median annual wage for private detectives and investigators at $50,700 - with the highest earners receiving up to $86,730.

As for industries with the most number of private investigators, the investigation and security field tops the list, followed by local government, and credit intermediation.

A Job with the Department of Homeland Security

If you aspire to work for the government, the Department of Homeland Security hires thousands every year. DHS occupations include law enforcement, travel security, immigration, border protection, disaster response, counterterrorism, and intelligence, among others.

According to PayScale.com, the average employee pay at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is $74,089 per year - with the highest paid receiving $130,801.

Final Word

Criminal justice is a sector that offers a whole host of employment opportunities for the right individual. If you wish to fast-track your progress in the field, a doctorate in criminal justice equips you with the advanced knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary for leadership positions in law enforcement, consulting, and even teaching.

NCU offers a variety of related specializations in its PhD in Criminal Justice program. Find the one that's right for you!