When it comes to choosing a career path, the criminal justice field has a lot of appeal. For one, it offers significant opportunity (and options) for aspiring candidates. Within criminal justice, you can choose to become a police officer, a criminal investigator, a private detective, or even a park warden. You can work with the federal government, or work in a local prison. And no matter which path you choose, you can expect an incredibly fulfilling career. At all corners of the criminal justice field, you’ll find people actively involved in solving crime, preventing crime, and protecting the greater good. You’ll encounter many professionals who are in this field to make the world a better place.
But the criminal justice field is more than just personally rewarding – it can offer great financial reward, as well. If you are considering a career in criminal justice, you may be wondering about the earning potential available to you. What is the average criminal justice salary in the United States, and in the local state of Connecticut? Let’s explore the possibilities.
As noted above, the criminal justice field is brimming with career options, ranging from border patrol to law enforcement, to private security. As a result, every title and every employer will present different salaries. If you are still unsure which role you’d like to pursue, perhaps salary will be a deciding factor. Below, we’ve detailed some of the many salaries you can attain across the criminal justice field.
Correctional Officer Salary
Correctional officers oversee individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial, or who have been sentenced to jail time. They often transport and escort inmates, supervise prisoners, and keep order within a jail or prison facility.
Nationally, corrections officers can expect to earn an average annual salary of $43,510. If you are living and working in Connecticut, however, that salary potential is 25% higher. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, correctional officers in Connecticut make an average of $54,420 per year.
Detectives and Criminal Investigator Salary
Much like their titles imply, detectives and criminal investigators gather evidence for criminal cases. They conduct interviews, examine records, observe suspects, collect facts, and participate in searches and arrests. They often work for government agencies (local, state, or federal), or in schools and education services. There are also private detectives and investigators, who offer investigative services to individuals, attorneys, and businesses. Many private detectives are self-employed.
Detectives and criminal investigators, on average in the United States, can expect a salary of $85,000 nationally. In Connecticut, the salary potential is once again higher. The average criminal investigator salary in Connecticut is nearly $90,500 annually, with the highest paying sector being federal agents.
Private detectives and investigators, on the other hand, can expect a bit lower pay. Nationwide, private investigators can expect to earn $50,700 annually. In Connecticut, private detectives earn an average annual salary of $53,410.
DEA Agent Salary
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is a federal agency designed to combat drug trafficking and distribution within the United States. DEA agents play an important role in preventing drug smuggling, finding drug dealers, seizing illegal drugs, and dismantling illicit drug labs. They have one of the most exciting careers in the criminal justice field today.
According to the official DEA website, DEA agents’ salary can vary depending on education and experience. In general, after graduation from a postsecondary institution, DEA agents can expect a starting salary between $49,000 and $56,000 per year. After four years of service, these agents are eligible to progress and earn more than $90,000 annually.
Police or Sheriff Patrol Agent Salary
When many people think of criminal justice, they think of police officers. These protectors, as well as sheriff patrol agents, are responsible for maintaining order in our society and enforcing local, state, and federal laws. They are some of the most important figures of the criminal justice system, and can take on a wide variety of job duties, depending on the day.
On average in the United States, the annual salary for police officers is $65,400. In Connecticut, police officers can expect a 10% lift in salary potential. Connecticut police and patrol agents make an average of $71,920 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Border Patrol Agent Salary
Border Patrol Agents (BPAs) have a career that “borders” both criminal justice and homeland security areas of study. (Which means, at Goodwin College, either degree path can position you for a successful career.) As the name infers, Border Patrol careers involve protecting the nation’s borders against illegal paraphernalia (such as weapons and drugs) and people entering.
According to government sources, Border Patrol Agents can expect a starting salary of over $52,000 per year, but can quickly grow that to over $83,000 within three years’ time.
FBI Agent Salary
FBI Special Agents are responsible for investigating security and safety violations at the national level, such as terrorism, cybercrime, organized crime, and drug trafficking. These agents work under the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which typically requires a bachelor’s level degree of new hires. In May 2017, federal investigators earned a median annual salary of $84,660, according to national figures.
How to Get to a Promising Criminal Justice Salary
Most criminal justice careers, particularly those at the entry-level, do not require years and years of education or professional training. In fact, in some of the above career options, a high school diploma is sufficient! However, more employers today are looking for (and requiring) applicants to hold a college degree from a reputable criminal justice school. A college degree represents a highly-qualified candidate that understands the fundamentals of the criminal justice system, and has taken steps to prepare for such a thrilling and shifting field. Some employers, such as federal agencies, require a bachelor’s degree.
Get started towards a career in criminal justice with Goodwin College in Connecticut. Call 800-889-3282 to learn about our associate degree in criminal justice, or visit us online to request more information.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.