5 Career Paths for a Master’s in Criminal Justice Graduate

Here are 5 Career Paths for a Master’s in Criminal Justice Graduate Programs. Follow along to learn more about this career. There are many career paths available to Master’s in Criminal Justice graduates. When we hear of a student in a criminal justice program, we typically think of law enforcement as the common career path. That is just the beginning of what a graduate of a criminal justice master degree program can pursue. There are many criminal justice careers that are fulfilling and offer excellent job growth, wages, and advancement potential. Here are five careers open to graduates of criminal justice master’s degree programs.

Careers with a Master’s in Criminal Justice

  • Criminologist
  • Criminal Profiler
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • DEA Agent
  • U.S. Marshal


Criminologists are a select group of sociologists who do research into why people commit crimes and participate in illegal behavior. They analyze and research statistics, patterns, trends, demographics, and geographic locations to determine the best methods to prevent it in the future. The majority of a criminologist’s career is spent conducting research in an office or gathering information out in the field. They may also interview criminals to determine specific factors or motives that may have contributed to the crimes. The Princeton Review states that while criminologists advance their careers as they gain experience, they seldom go from one agency to another. PayScale reports that as of April 2018, criminologists earned about $42,289 annually.

Criminal Profiler

Criminal Profilers are forensic scientists who gather and review evidence to determine the profile of a criminal based on theories that certain behavior holds important insight into an individual’s personality. They use evidence found at a crime scene or on a victim to determine a pattern in the criminal’s behavior. After analyzing the evidence they’ve gathered, they’re often able to obtain information about the offender, including age, education level, appearance, occupation and the chance of the offender re-offending. PayScale reports that criminal profilers earned a median annual wage of $60,977 as of April 2018.

Forensic Psychologist

Forensic psychologists are often thought of as profilers, but they’re different. While they may study the patterns of criminals, they do not profile them but rather assess them and determine what they may need in the way of treatment services. They may determine that the criminal has mental health needs or is not fit to stand trial. Using risk assessment methods, forensic psychologists also make sentencing and post-incarceration recommendations to the court or legal system. They may also be asked to testify in trials. PayScale reports that as of April 2018, forensic psychologists earned about $62,700 annually.

DEA Agent

DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agents are law enforcement professionals who study the drug industry and use their information to help bring drug-related criminals to justice. Because of the enormity of the drug industry, a DEA agent may be required to travel to different areas. Their job duties include observing drug-related activities, coordinating and running task forces, writing reports, performing undercover work, arresting perpetrators, confiscating evidence, and testifying in court. According to Payscale, the median salary for a DEA agent is $65,000.

U.S. Marshal

U.S. Marshals, agents working for the United States Marshals Service, are law enforcement professionals who work for the federal government often on high-profile cases. They’re often called upon to assist local law enforcement agencies in finding and arresting fugitives. U.S. Marshals are also hired to provide protection for officers of the court, serve arrest warrants and provide court security. They’re also asked to arrest fugitives or convicted offenders who are not in compliance with the laws. At the start of their careers, U.S. Marshals earn wages ranging from $38,511 to $48,708 according to FederalLawEnforcement.org. Their wages increase as they advance to higher levels, which is determined significantly by geographic location.

Unlike many fields that offer only limited choices, criminal justice is a vast field that offers many career choices in both legal and law enforcement. They’re also careers that offer excellent benefits for the future. Finding an excellent career path with a Master’s in Criminal Justice can be challenging but extremely rewarding.