Careers in Criminal Justice: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Criminal justice is one of the most promising and necessary career paths you
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Criminal justice is one of the most promising and necessary career paths you can take. It’s a career path that serves a myriad of needs that will always be in high demand. Furthermore, you’ll get to learn a lot about the inner workings of the human mind and motivations for criminal activity.

The criminal justice system isn’t some Hollywood dramatization. It’s real work that affects real lives. People rely on criminal justice professionals to protect their rights and to provide safety and justice. Indeed, there are numerous careers for you to aspire to in the criminal justice field. This article will cover some of the good, bad, and ugly of careers in criminal justice.

Crime Scene Cleanup


Crime scene cleanup is an essential service in criminal justice. As you can imagine, some crime scenes can be gruesome. In addition, they could pose a potential biohazard if there are bodies or bodily fluids present.

Cleanup specialists have one of the ugliest and dirtiest jobs in the field of criminal justice. There’s nothing pretty about death cleanup, but it’s a vital service.

One of the benefits of it is that it doesn’t require a degree. Your company might require OSHA training in addition to your on-the-job training, but you won’t need to enter a criminal justice program.

Police Officer/Detective

Police officers serve one of the most valuable roles in our society. They work tirelessly to keep our streets safe and risk their lives every time they accost someone. At times, it can feel like a thankless job. After all, who wants to get a ticket or go to jail? But, what would our world be without police officers?

With a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, it’s easier to climb the ranks in law enforcement. You can become a detective, private investigator, or forensic science technician. You can also venture outside of law enforcement and become a paralegal or social worker.

Federal Agent


A master’s degree in criminal justice opens even more windows of opportunity. Criminal justice students in master’s programs learn the intricacies of criminology and enter professions that impact national security.

If you want to become a federal agent, you’ll need to get a master’s degree in criminal justice. Federal agents take on the cases that inspire Hollywood theater, such as human trafficking, drug and arms smuggling, and homeland security. There may not be as much action hero stuff as you see on TV and in the movies, but they’re all heroes nonetheless.

Private Security Specialist

Many people who get their master’s degree in criminal justice discover they have an entrepreneur’s mindset. If you have the know-how, you can launch a profitable private security agency.

We’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill security guard work. Many private security specialists protect business executives, celebrities, and top-secret facilities. Some even serve as contractors for the United States in warzones.

Most people who provide this level of service have military experience, including many being ex-special forces members. Indeed, a master’s degree in criminal justice significantly increases your potential in this career field. The work isn’t pretty, but it’s profitable.



Lawyers might have the most glorified position in criminal justice. They’re not the highest in the justice system, as that distinction goes to judges, especially those on the Supreme Court. But lawyers are the ones who argue in the courtrooms, fight tooth and nail for justice and their clients, and have movies made about them. Not to mention, they also get paid pretty well.

If you want to become a lawyer, you’ll have to get your Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree in criminal justice. You’ll also have to work your way up because once you graduate from law school, you’ll be starting over at the entry-level of your career field. Don’t worry—you’ll get your first case sooner than you think, but be sure to bring your elbow grease to work with you.

There are many fulfilling career paths to follow in the field of criminal justice. The coursework will teach you a lot about human nature and put you in a position to see the best and worst in humanity. Indeed, criminal justice can be good, bad, and ugly, but it’s necessary. From the streets to the courtrooms and jails, criminal justice professionals are making our world safer.

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