Get Matched With Criminal Justice Programs

What is Criminal Justice?

Working in criminal justice can be highly rewarding as individuals in the field help to hold criminals accountable for their actions and protect communities. Individuals can work in the criminal justice field both in the private and public sectors. Both sides will focus on gathering evidence to effectively prosecute criminals and achieving justice for any community members who have been wronged or harmed by the actions of others.

Jobs that tend to fall under the criminal justice umbrella include those working for law enforcement including police officers, individuals working to prosecute crimes in court, social workers aiming to reduce crimes against children and others, and people who work in prison systems – also known as corrections officers. More importantly, criminal justice professionals not only hold important responsibilities in bringing criminals to justice, but they also help in reducing recidivism and rehabilitating individuals who are looking to grow from past mistakes. This helps increase the number of community members who are positively contributing to society. Therefore, the criminal justice system comprises a wide range of careers, which opens the possibility for students seeking to graduate from criminal justice programs and make contributions to their community.

Additionally, regional differences in state and local policies, crime, and employment opportunities are likely to change the crime composition, not to mention that laws are different in every state. In Nevada, the top business industry is arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services, which has an annual revenue of $27.9 billion and is the sixth largest such industry in the United States. Given that Las Vegas is a world-renowned center of hotels, casinos, and performers, criminal justice professionals in the area will need to build the communication skills necessary to communicate with visitors and tourists to the state, many of whom may not even speak English. Additionally, criminal justice professionals in Nevada may need to address potential violent altercations, fraud or theft, and to be ready to deal with drunken individuals as a result of the state’s largest employment industry.

Nevada’s second-largest industry is the real estate, rental, and leasing sector, which nets around $25.4 billion in revenue per year. In this arena, criminal justice professionals are likely to deal with a whole host of different issues, many of which may stem from legal or contractual obligations. For instance, criminal justice professionals may be called upon to help resolve disputes triggered by property lines, squatters, non-payment of rent or failing to uphold a lease, eviction disputes, and rental property defacement. On the other side, criminal justice professionals could be called upon to help protect home buyers, renters, and even investors from bad actors in the property management space. These types of issues require specialized knowledge of the law and can make for fulfilling careers for those in the criminal justice field.

The third-largest industry in Nevada is professional and business services, with $19 billion in revenue every year. Issues that criminal justice professionals might deal with in this area include harassment on-the-job, unsafe working conditions (mental and physical), union disputes, wage disputes, white-collar crime, as well as gender or age discrimination. Given the complexity of the problems that many white-collar professionals can face on the job, particularly over disputes that may not result in physical evidence, criminal justice professionals must learn how to tactfully handle every situation. As such, students looking to achieve their criminal justice degree in Nevada must learn a variety of criminological theories, criminal justice research methods, sociological paradigms, and theoretical studies to be prepared to handle the day-to-day tasks they will face while on the job.

Compare Popular Online Criminal Justice Programs

Online Criminal Justice Education in Nevada

A criminal justice professional’s daily work will differ substantially depending on the particular role that they work in. A popular field for people interested in criminal justice is working for a law enforcement agency, taking on jobs with titles like police officer, criminal profiler, or detective. Other popular areas within the criminal justice sector include working within the legal system as a paralegal, correctional officer, or lawyer. Even those who are interested in studying medicine can have fulfilling careers related to criminal justice by working as forensic specialists or clinical psychologists. Day-to-day tasks for someone working in law enforcement are likely include recording evidence, managing case notes, patrolling different communities and jurisdictions to ensure safety, surveilling suspects or persons of interest, and arresting criminals. Other areas of criminal justice, like forensic accounting or the legal sector, may focus more on documenting data, analyzing facts, and writing briefs.

Find Your Online Criminal Justice Program

Online Associate Degree in Criminal Justice (AS)

Completing one’s associate degree in criminal justice is a great way to begin a career working in criminal justice. In particular, students will be able to gain exposure to important core knowledge areas, like criminological theories, while also building important skills through writing and mathematics courses. Additionally, after graduation, students will be able to find jobs in the field right away.

The majority of entry-level positions in the field are open to graduates with an associate degree, and many career paths offer opportunities to work one’s way up to higher job titles after gaining years of work experience. Students will often enter the criminal justice field with job titles like forensic science technician, paralegal, parole officer, correctional officer, firefighter, etc. Most of these jobs are critical to keeping community infrastructures running and safe, which means they are well regarded. Additionally, since students can find work after two years of postsecondary schooling, they will find the return on investment in their education quite worthwhile. Payscale has found that the average student who has finished their associate degree in criminal justice will earn $55,000 a year, but one’s chosen profession and experience can greatly affect their overall earning potential.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice (BS)

Students looking to pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice can choose between a variety of different options, including majoring in areas like criminology or criminal psychology. These degrees are typically well regarded by employers looking to hire new graduates into their organization, especially for students seeking to pursue a more specialized career path within the criminal justice field.

For instance, students who wish to become FBI agents will typically need to fulfill several strict requirements. These include completing at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university, and applicants must also be a US citizens and have at least two years of work experience post-college. Compared to associate degree holders, graduates holding a bachelor’s degree in the criminal justice-related field will likely find themselves eligible for the higher-paying entry-level roles in the field after graduation. Payscale has found that the average person with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice earns $61,000 per year, though one’s actual salary will differ depending on which area of the criminal justice field one is working in.

Online Master's Degree in Criminal Justice (MS or MC)

Typically, a master’s degree in criminal justice is not a prerequisite for entering the field, and the majority of workers in this area will not have pursued an MBA. However, some specialties like forensic accounting may require a master’s degree before one can work in the field. This is because most organizations or individuals looking to hire a forensic accountant will look for someone who has obtained a CPA, and many students will work toward their master’s in accounting before they sit for the CPA exam.

For those looking to become public defendants, they will need to have completed law school. As such, whether or not someone needs a master’s degree to work in the criminal justice field is highly dependent on their chosen pathway. Even so, while most criminal justice positions do not require a master’s degree, going to graduate school can help students master higher-level knowledge and provide them with greater tools for management and administrative roles. This can lead to faster promotions to managerial or supervisory positions in the field such as correctional officer supervisor, police supervisor, criminologist, or district attorney. According to Payscale, the average holder of a master’s degree in a criminal justice field will earn $66,000 per year.

Online PhD Degree in Criminal Justice (PhD)

Very few employers in the criminal justice field will require their employees to hold a PhD, but there are a few exceptions. If a student is hoping to become a public defense lawyer, antitrust lawyer, or criminal prosecutor rather than working as a paralegal, they must first obtain their Juris Doctor or JD degree and pass the bar exam. Additionally, for students interested in becoming a professor whose research focuses on criminal justice, forensic anthropology, or a related field, it is usually a prerequisite that they finish their PhD in the field before they are hired by a university. Even if someone completes their doctorate in the field, they can still take on job titles such as forensic scientists and criminal psychologists, finding themselves staffed on more difficult cases and earning higher salaries than their counterparts. According to Payscale, the average student with a doctorate in the criminal justice field will earn $85,000 per year.

Find Online Criminal Justice Schools

Become a Criminal Justice Professional in Nevada

The requirements for becoming a criminal justice professional in Nevada differ depending on one’s specialty within the field, so it’s important for students to first figure out their interests before determining if they must also obtain additional certifications besides college or graduate school. For instance, becoming a public defender can also require students to receive a JD, pass the bar exam to become a practicing lawyer, and even earn a Master of Laws (LLM) degree for career advancement and further specialization. Lawyers may not only work as lawyers throughout their lives, as many go on to become judges, magistrates, and professors.

Other career paths, like becoming a crime scene investigator, will only require an associate degree and a CSI certificate from a community college, though having further education can be helpful. Other specialty areas, like becoming a forensic scientist, will typically require at least a bachelor’s degree in an area like biology or chemistry to ensure that one has enough of an understanding of science to complete the daily tasks required of them.

Potential Careers for Criminal Justice Graduates

  • Psychometrists:
    A psychometrist is someone who helps administer and score psychological tests used to help clinical psychologists in diagnosing patients. This job is important in helping individuals address any mental or emotional issues they may be facing, particularly as a result of any abuse, domestic violence, or otherwise difficult situations. They may also run tests on suspects or those who wish to enter a plea of insanity in a trial.
  • Forensic Accountant:
    While most accountants work to ensure that books are closed properly, forensic accountants are typically employed by an individual or organization for their investigative skills. They are usually tasked with analyzing financial and book records with the intent to better understand if an individual or business has been appropriately recording financial matters or if someone has been cheating their company or workers through “creative accounting” methods. Forensic accountants are important resources in fraud detection.

    Search Programs Offering Criminal Justice Majors

  • Paralegal:
    Paralegals are typically hired as part of a lawyer’s support team and they help to complete many key tasks like investigating case facts, collecting documents from sources, researching relevant legal cases, and helping to write reports. Paralegals can play an important role in helping to lighten the burden of the lawyers working on a case, freeing them up to focus on honing their legal arguments.
  • K9 Officer:
    These days, many police units also have a trained police dog (K9) force, which helps officers with many high-risk investigations involving drugs, tracking missing persons, or following important scent trails. K9 officers are specialized members of the police force who work closely with police dogs to enforce local, state, or federal laws.
  • Crime Scene Investigator:
    Crime scene investigators perform the important work of documenting the crime scene, taking photographic evidence, and performing physical measurements of the scene. They will collect forensic data and document evidence, much of which is used later down the road to conduct further investigations or persecute criminals. They may also work to identify the evidence taken if the police department they work for has their own lab; otherwise, they may be responsible for sending samples to an outside lab and working with that lab to determine those samples importance to the case before sending a report through to the investigating officers.

Search All Programs