It would be nice if everyone who wanted to could start at the top of their career, but that is unrealistic.
The best way to get a start on the path to where you want to be is to take on an entry-level position in the criminal justice field and eventually make moves to get where you ultimately want to be.
Who knows, you may even enjoy the entry-level position so much that you decide to stay there.
We have gathered the top entry-level positions in criminal justice for you to explore.
Most of these positions require at least a Bachelor’s degree, although a couple can be gained with a high school diploma or GED.
In almost every criminal justice position, however, you will need to meet physical fitness standards, pass a background and drug test, and often a psychological test.
Best Entry-Level Criminal Justice Jobs
1. Border Patrol Agent
In order to become a border patrol agent, you must be under the age of 39.
For this position, which pays $77,187 yearly, you don’t need to have more than a high school diploma, although a college degree may give you an advantage.
Responsibilities are to patrol the border by land, sea, or air to keep our Mexican and Canadian borders safe from illegal activity.
2. Customs Enforcement Officer
Custom Enforcement Officers earn an average of $76,673 a year.
You can find them working at seaports and airports to make sure people do not import or export certain items.
They also make sure that laws governing the amounts of merchandise brought into the country or taken out are followed.
For this position, you will need a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field.
3. Immigration Enforcement Officer
Immigration Enforcement Officers enforce immigration laws at the country’s borders.
They can also be found working at airports or in detention centers.
Their pay averages $75,628 annually.
This position may also have the officer tasked with deportations when necessary.
A Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice is necessary for this position.
4. Transportation Security Specialist (TSA Officer)
For $41,044 a year, the TSA Officer is responsible for keeping airline workers and passengers safe.
They look for suspicious people and packages in the airport and on planes.
They also investigate people and luggage that set off alarms.
The only educational requirement for this position is a high school diploma or GED.
5. U.S. Capitol Police Officer
Those who work in the U.S. Capitol complex have their own security staff, which is the U.S. Capitol police.
An officer on this force makes $76,526 yearly and must hold at least a Bachelor’s degree.
Their job is to protect the members of Congress, staff, and visitors to the complex.
They patrol, watch for suspicious activity, and respond to any emergencies.
6. Correctional Officer (Prison Guard)
A Correctional Officer is one in a prison who is responsible for monitoring the inmates and keeping them safe from each other and themselves.
They do regular headcounts, monitor visitors, and watch for evidence of contraband.
The position calls for a high school diploma or GED and pays $43,550 yearly.
Paralegals need to have either a bachelor’s degree or a certificate from a paralegal program.
They make $55,000 a year for doing much of the leg work necessary for a lawyer to present a case in court.
The paralegal will look for references in past proceedings that pertain to the current one.
They research pertinent laws and they work in any other research capacity the lawyer requires.
8. Parole Officer
You need a Bachelor’s degree to become a parole officer and will earn an average of $51,916 a year.
The job of a parole officer is to work with newly released convicts to help them readjust and succeed in society.
They hold regular meetings, perform drug tests, and generally try to guide the person toward a life that will keep them from going back to prison.
Some guidance they may provide includes helping find a job, housing, and any necessary social services.
9. Private Detective
Private Detectives earn a yearly income of $50,316.
These detectives work independently to help solve crimes and often need to think outside the box.
You can find them working with other law enforcement officials or for private citizens.
They solve crimes for individuals like discovering infidelities or finding out if someone is stealing.
10. Fish and Game Warden
A Fish and Game Warden is responsible for making sure people follow the laws and regulations on hunting and fishing.
They protect wildlife from illegal activity and investigate any illegal activity in the area they patrol.
You need a Bachelor’s degree and can earn $48,316 a year.
11. Crime Lab Analyst
The Crime Lab Analyst must have a Bachelor’s degree or higher and can earn $56,000 a year.
This is the person who gathers the physical evidence from a crime scene and pieces it together to help tell what happened.
They analyze DNA, blood splatters, shoe and tire prints, and more.
They use science to solve crimes so much that they have a strong science background.
12. DEA Agent
The DEA Agent is a federal position that requires a Bachelor’s degree.
Earnings are on average $66,450 yearly.
These agents work to prevent the sale of illegal drugs.
They attempt to stop the import and export of these substances and can be found working with Border Patrol to do this.
They also investigate drug-related crimes.
13. Secret Service Agent
Protecting the President, Vice-President, and their families is the task of a Secret Service Agent.
They also help protect other high-ranking officials and foreign dignitaries.
Another task is to provide security at public events.
One rarely known responsibility is investigating cases of counterfeiting.
The position requires a Bachelor’s degree.
Pay is on average $65,000 yearly.
14. Child Protective Service
Child Protective Services may not be immediately thought of as a criminal justice career, but they are essential in some cases and a good worker can use it as a path to a career in juvenile justice.
For this position, you’ll need a degree in criminal justice or social work.
Pay is $35,000 a year.
The child protective agent makes sure kids are safe.
They remove abused children from dangerous situations and work with families to provide a safe environment.
They are also called in for cases regarding custody disputes.
Their job is to make sure the child’s best interest is met.
15. Police Officer
Police Officers earn a starting pay of $45,000 a year and must have a high school diploma or GED.
They must also complete a program at the Police Academy.
This position sees the officer patrolling streets on foot, in a cruiser, on a bicycle, and even on horseback in some areas.
Their job is to be on the lookout for any illegal activity, answer calls regarding conflicts, and basically try to keep the streets safe for citizens.
16. Computer Forensics Investigator
Computer Forensics Investigators make $68,666 annually.
They must have a Bachelor’s degree and extensive training in IT matters.
Their responsibilities include recovering information from computers in order to help solve crimes.
They may find child porn, evidence of illicit activities, and even financial information that has been deleted in the hopes of avoiding prosecution.
17. U. S. Marshall
U. S. Marshall can make $92,005 yearly.
This job requires a Bachelor’s degree and can be a dangerous one.
This person is called in when prisoners need to be transported, especially across state lines.
They are called out for fugitive manhunts.
The position also involves providing security for judges, juries, and witnesses during trials.
They must be constantly on the lookout for suspicious people and packages and must respond quickly to any signs of an emergency situation.
For $62,270 a year, the Arbitrator/Mediator has to be the calm, neutral third party in disputes that may end up in the legal system.
Their job is to help the involved parties come to a decision that will avoid court.
They must have a Bachelor’s degree and a thorough understanding of civil law.
They must also be great communicators as they are speaking for parties that may be too emotional to see the entire picture.
19. Information Security Analyst
The Information Security Analyst must have a degree in a computer-related area.
Their earnings average $92,259 annually and the need for their services is increasing.
The Information Security Analyst can work in any area that involves sensitive computer data.
They are tasked with protecting this data from both internal and external threats such as hackers, viruses, spyware, etc.
If they notice any weaknesses in the system, it is up to them to find a solution and put it in place.
If there is a breach, they must work to find out how it happened and who is responsible.
5 Tips For Getting an Entry-Level Criminal Justice Job
1. Get Out Into Society
Volunteer whenever possible, especially in areas that show your leadership ability.
Join the reserves and work out a drive-along or shadowing experience with a law enforcement agency.
Show that you have the ability to interact with people and also lead when the opportunity arises.
2. Get an Education
Most positions in criminal justice require at least a Bachelor’s degree.
If your goal is to rise through the ranks, you will need at least this degree, and get added opportunity if you go further.
3. Military Experience Helps
Most criminal justice positions, especially those on the federal level, give added weight to veterans.
If you have a chance and wish to do so, a term in one of the military branches will help.
If you also worked in a legal capacity during this time, it will boost your chances.
4. Prepare Physically and Mentally
You will need to be physically fit as most positions involve being active.
You will need to prepare your skills as a communicator, especially in writing since many of these positions involve reports.
An often overlooked area is your financial history.
Often, a credit score is checked and a poor one may lower your chances of getting hired
5. Research Your Target Organization
Research the organization you are interviewing with.
Know their history.
Recognize important names.
Know the duties you will be responsible for.
The more you are familiar with the organization and can communicate that knowledge naturally, the greater your chances.