According to the Bureau of Labor, there are over 800,000 police officers and detectives in the US, and the projected growth rate of these jobs over the coming years is 5%. People with criminal justice backgrounds are in high demand, and not just as police officers and detectives.

In fact, many people automatically think of police officers and detectives when they think of criminal justice careers. However, there is more than meets the eye in the world of criminal justice.

So, what are your options if you want to go into the working world of criminal justice? We’re glad you asked.

Let’s take a look at four of the top-paying criminal justice careers other than policing and detective work. You just might be surprised at what a criminal justice career can look like!

1. Lawyers

Becoming a lawyer takes hard work and perseverance (and quite a bit of education). However, the payoff is worth it, and becoming a lawyer opens the door to many possibilities.

Lawyers (aka attorneys) represent defendants or plaintiffs in civil and/or criminal trials. As a lawyer, you can advise your clients on how to proceed in and outside of the courtroom. A lawyer’s advice and advocacy for their client is rooted in their knowledge of the law, previous judicial decisions, and ongoing research.

Because the law is so complicated, lawyers typically specialize in one area. This can include everything from criminal law to intellectual property to environmental law. While criminal law tends to most closely mirror what we think of when we think about criminal justice, all areas of the law fall under the criminal justice umbrella.

2. Federal Marshals

If you want to go into criminal justice but also want to work directly for the federal government, becoming a federal marshal may be the right choice for you. Federal marshals are important members of the executive branch of the federal government, and their roles vary from day to day.

For example, federal marshals are in charge of securing federal courts when they are in session and protecting other court officers. They also play a major role in the judicial system by creating security, serving warrants of arrest, tracking fugitives, and transporting imprisoned people.

Because federal marshals work for the federal government, they must receive a clear background check, undergo psychological and physical assessments, and more.

3. Forensics Analysts

If science is your strong suit, becoming a forensics analyst may be the perfect criminal justice career for you. Forensics analysts can be employed privately (by morgues, detectives’ offices, etc) or publically (by the state, city, or local branch of the police). Some forensics analysts even work alongside research teams in universities or colleges.

Forensics analysts collect, identify, classify, and analyze physical evidence from crime scenes. Some forensics analysts are out in the field, inspecting crime scenes firsthand, while others may work in the lab more often than not. Like law, forensics is a wide and complicated field. For that reason, many forensics analysts specialize in a subfield.

What kinds of areas can you specialize in as a forensics analyst? You can specialize in fingerprinting, ballistics, biochemistry, handwriting, and more. Your role in criminal cases can vary and you may even appear in court as an expert witness on a case.

4. Paralegals

How can you work in law without completing quite as much of the education requirements lawyers must undergo? Paralegals are individuals who work side-by-side with lawyers, organizations, and other criminal justice groups.

Paralegals often work on court cases but do not necessarily provide direct advice or advocacy for clients. Instead, they help form the backbone of a legal argument or shed light on complicated legal scenarios. This criminal justice career is ideal for anyone who has an eye for detail and a strong ability to perform thorough research.

Having experience as a paralegal can also help you transition away from criminal justice in the future. Many paralegals also work on things like taxes, estate planning, and business operations. If you know that criminal justice appeals to you now but that you may want to switch career paths in the future, becoming a paralegal can allow you to do exactly that.

How Can You Get Started With Criminal Justice Careers?

So you’ve decided that the jobs in criminal justice are appealing to you, but you’re not sure where to get started. Let’s take a look at what you can do to launch your own career path in the criminal justice field.

More often than not, you’re going to need a degree in criminal justice. However, your education will look vastly different as a future lawyer than as a forensics analyst. Some of these programs can be completed online, while others will require hands-on experience.

Where can you find the best criminal justice programs in the country? See more criminal justice programs and find the right match for your future career.

Explore Your Options Within the Criminal Justice Sphere

When we think of criminal justice, we often picture police officers and detectives out in the field fighting crime or solving cases. However, criminal justice careers are more varied than you may think. We hope that our guide to some of the most lucrative criminal justice careers has shed light on just how many options you have in this field.

Are you looking for more ways to launch a new career? Wondering what you can do to make a big transition from one field to another? Take a look at our content for tips, tricks, and the latest news about the different careers that are in demand today.