Do you want to work in the criminal justice system but not in the police? We understand your dilemma. Since many of us have this misconception that by having a criminal justice degree you become a cop or work in the police department, or the worst – you must undergo police training to get a job. 

No that’s not true. Actually; there are many career alternatives you could explore post-completion of your criminal justice degree, which don’t require any police training or experience. 

In this article, we will guide you about the branches of criminal justice, and their major roles, and explore some career options besides police, which don’t require any police training and experience.

What can you Do with a Criminal Justice Degree Besides being a Cop

Can I become a Cop without a Criminal Justice Degree? 

Yes. It is not mandatory to have a criminal justice degree to become a cop. However, having one can give you a huge edge over others in terms of selection, promotions, posting in bigger cities, pay-hikes, etc.

Criminal Justice Degree Options: 

-> Criminal Justice Associate Degree

-> Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree

-> Criminal Justice Master’s Degree

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The Branches of the Criminal Justice System 

Criminal Justice is an umbrella term comprising the systems through which Criminals are – charged, detained, convicted, and punished or freed. There are three branches of the criminal justice system. They are Law Enforcement, Courts, and Corrections.

With a degree in criminal justice, you can work in any of these systems. However, some professions might require additional education or training.  

Law Enforcement 

This system tries to stop a crime, catch the criminals, conduct investigations, and gather evidence to prove the crime. They are the Police officers, Sheriffs, and Federal agents, to name a few.


This system has an important role to prove an accused innocent or guilty. It has the authority to provide sentences in accordance with the law, imprisonment, fine, rehab, or release. They are the Lawyers, Judges, and Bailiffs, to name a few.   


This system oversees imprisoned individuals and those in rehabilitation, parole, or probation. They are the Corrections officers, Probation officers, and Parole officers, to name a few.

Know More -> Criminal Justice Degree

What can I do with a criminal justice degree besides being a cop? 

You could pursue other career alternatives in other departments, besides the police department with a criminal justice degree. Here are some of the careers that you might want to pursue –

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Intelligence Analyst

Annual Average Salary: $41,168 per year

What do they do? 

  • They collect data from various sources and analyze it to identify patterns, trends, and potential risks.
  • They assess the credibility and significance of the information they gather and generate reports or briefings that provide actionable insights.
  • They help identify potential threats to national security or organizational interests by evaluating intelligence data and conducting risk assessments.
  • They work closely with other analysts, law enforcement agencies, and intelligence organizations to share information and collaborate on intelligence efforts.

Probation Officer

Annual Average Salary: $43,327 per year

What do they do? 

  • They monitor and supervise individuals put on probation as an alternative to imprisonment, ensuring they comply with court-ordered conditions and rehabilitation programs.
  • They assess the needs, risks, and progress of individuals on probation to develop appropriate supervision plans and recommend treatment or support services.
  • They ensure those individuals are attending counseling sessions, maintaining employment, abstaining from drugs or alcohol, and avoiding criminal activities.
  • They help them make positive changes in their lives, overcome challenges, and reintegrate into the community.

Background Investigator

Annual Average Salary: $43,618 per year

What do they do? 

  • They gather and analyze information about individuals by conducting interviews, verifying employment history, checking criminal records, reviewing financial records, and contacting references.
  • They carefully review and evaluate the collected data to identify any red flags.
  • They document and report their findings to decision-makers, such as hiring managers or security clearance adjudicators.
  • Their recommendations can significantly influence the decision-making process.
  • Their role may vary depending on the organization they work for, as well as the nature of the investigations.

Fraud Investigator

Annual Average Salary: $50,203 per year

fraud investigator

What do they do? 

  • They investigate to identify criminal activity or fraud, such as stolen identities or credit card information.
  • They can interview the victim to learn about their loss, conduct surveillance on suspects, and gather evidence to reveal or prove fraud.
  • They can also work with attorneys to build court cases and can appear in courtrooms to testify.  

Computer Forensic Analyst

Annual Average Salary: $59,896 per year

What do they do? 

  • They review the evidence from computers, phones, and other electronic devices.
  • They can retrieve deleted or encrypted files from hard drives and devices.
  • They can also review servers and databases to gather information about a person’s digital activity.
  • They can use GPS systems to track the locations of suspects in criminal cases.

Immigration Officer

Annual Average Salary: $81,230 per year

What do they do? 

  • They can check immigration documents for accuracy, conduct interviews with people who arrive from different countries, and develop new strategies for legal and secure immigration.
  • They review immigration cases to determine whether fraud has occurred.
  • They can work in many environments, at an airport or the country’s borders.

Drug Enforcement Administration Agent

Annual Average Salary: $77,210

What do they do? 

  • They have an important role in the war on drugs by enforcing laws on controlled substances and preventing the distribution of illegal narcotics.
  • They conduct investigations within the United States primarily and work closely with Border Patrol and Customs Enforcement agents.  
  • However, they can conduct international investigations if the United States is affected by external racket.

Youth Correctional Counselor

Annual Average Salary: $54,080

What do they do? 

  • They work closely with juvenile law offenders in correctional facilities to help them transition into productive citizens.
  • This is their main responsibility, to make sure they avoid committing further crimes in the future that could land them in prison.     

Criminal Justice Instructor

Annual Average Salary: $64,460

Education Requirement: Master’s Degree

What do they do? 

  • They are the instructors or teachers who take the classes for students of criminal justice. 
  • They ensure you receive the utmost beneficial and relevant education on the subject.


-> Online Criminal Justice Degree

-> How long is Criminal Justice Degree?

-> What Can You Do with A Masters in Criminal Justice? 

-> What Jobs Can You Get With a Criminal Justice Degree?

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.