Salary/Degree Guides

30 Highest-Paying Criminal Justice Jobs and Salaries

Written by Grad School Center Team We are a passionate team of experienced educators and advisors at, dedicated to guiding students through their graduate education journey. Our experts, with advanced degrees across various disciplines, offer personalized advice, up-to-date program information, and practical insights into application processes.

Reviewed by David Krug David Krug is a seasoned expert with 20 years in educational technology (EdTech). His career spans the pivotal years of technology integration in education, where he has played a key role in advancing student-centric learning solutions. David's expertise lies in marrying technological innovation with pedagogical effectiveness, making him a valuable asset in transforming educational experiences. As an advisor for enrollment startups, David provides strategic guidance, helping these companies navigate the complexities of the education sector. His insights are crucial in developing impactful and sustainable enrollment strategies.

Updated: April 26, 2024, Reading time: 15 minutes

highest paying criminal justice jobs

Find your perfect college degree

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you curious about the highest-paying criminal justice jobs and salaries available today? The criminal justice field offers a wide selection of career opportunities. The federal, local, and state government agencies provide numerous job openings in the related field.

Also, the private sector offers employment opportunities for prospective candidates. Some criminal justice job opportunities require a college degree, while some only require a high school diploma.

Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Salaries and career advancements are directly related to earning an undergraduate or graduate degree. Depending on your preference and passion, wages should not be the primary indicator of a fulfilling career in the criminal justice field. There are several factors, such as lifestyle, interest, work conditions, and work benefits.

Our list provides the top 30 highest paying criminal justice jobs, including their salaries and roles. Find one here that fits your personality and career aspirations.

Criminal Justice Jobs with the Highest Salaries

highest paying criminal justice jobs


Lawyers have one of the most lucrative salaries in the criminal justice field. They can work anywhere, from small courts to multi-district litigation. Some of them establish their law firms, while some work for large firms. They represent their clients in civil and criminal trials regarding their rights and obligations.

To become a lawyer takes a lot of time and resources; however, the rewards are fulfilling and worth it. Lawyers can specialize in a specific field, including insurance, criminal law, international law, bankruptcy, or environmental law, among many other concentrations.

Lawyer Salary: $1345,760/year

Secret Service Agent

Secret Service Agents dedicate their lives to protecting the lives of dignitaries and work to unravel fraud investigations in government sectors. The nature of their job mainly involves case investigation without compromising the safety and security of the majority. They have one of the most dangerous professions in the criminal justice field.

Secret Service agents are often involved in traveling for work assignments. Also, they learn protocols that involve the protection of the common good or government properties at the highest level. They undergo personal background examinations and may need to carry a weapon for their safety.

Secret Service Agent: $94,000/year

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigator

Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigators usually investigate financial issues such as money laundering and fraud. However, when tax evasion becomes a deliberate act, the criminal investigator is sent by the IRS criminal investigators to facilitate.

These professionals must be familiar with the techniques used in the forensic exploration of internet banking systems and automated systems. They must have the capabilities to analyze and interpret complex financial data.

Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigator Salary: $119,091/year

Fingerprint Specialist

Fingerprint Specialists own magnifying lenses that hover over fingerprint fragments, which are essential in carrying out their specific roles and responsibilities.

They can reconstruct the profile of criminals through the use of the latest technologies, combining all the pieces of information or details to come up with written documentation that will serve as strong evidence to the perpetrators of the crime. Fingerprint specialists may testify in courtrooms during trial procedures.

Fingerprint Specialist Salary: $51,897/year


Judges lead trial hearings and ensure lawyers comply and abide by the rules and regulations of the court. They are responsible for making important decisions and creating a verdict based on the pieces of evidence presented during the trial.

Judges start their careers as lawyers, allowing them to gain experience and practice their profession. Nominations from the public or government sectors are the way to become a judge after years of study and professional experience.

Judge Salary: $180,718/year

Customs Border and Protection Officer

Customs Border and Protection Officers inspect and screen individuals as well as inspect goods crossing in and out of the U.S. borders. They have good judgment and a careful eye for unusual or suspicious activities or physical appearances.

Customs border and protection officers are familiar with the laws and regulations that cover what items are allowed to be taken in and out of the United States. Furthermore, they must be comfortable in questioning and apprehending suspicious individuals.

Customs Border and Protection Officer Salary: $43,144/year

Information Security Officer

Information Security Officers are firewall experts who know how to assess and protect organizations’ security systems. They are people who enjoy keeping up to date with the latest technological innovations in infrastructures and network security.

Also, these people ensure the safety and security of the system and its compliance with specific standards.

Information Security Officer Salary: $100,471/year

Federal Protective Service Officer

Federal Protective Service Officers have a great sense and knowledge about federal buildings and facilities that require continuous protection and safety measures. They receive training to understand the vulnerabilities of building facilities and ensure safety from terrorist attacks.

These people promote the safety and security of the building facilities, providing the installation and maintenance of security systems and fire alarms. Moreover, they organize emergency preparedness drills, create contingency plans, and employ a K-9-aided team to preserve the safety of establishments or specific areas.

Federal Protective Service Officer Salary: $65,790/year

Crime Scene Supervisor

Crime Scene Supervisors collect and gather pieces of evidence at a crime scene, as well as supervise a team of crime scene technicians who work with them. They have extensive knowledge of the ins and outs of gathering evidence at the crime scene. They are knowledgeable about fingerprint lifting and taking photographs of blood spatters for investigation.

Crime scene supervisors write documentation and reports of findings created by their team. Also, they possess excellent communication skills and the ability to follow standards.

Crime Scene Supervisor Salary: $45,837/year

Immigration Enforcement Agent

Immigration Enforcement Agents are responsible for detaining and expelling foreigners who violate the laws and policies of U.S. borders. They protect the country by overseeing terrorists and drug smugglers.

Enforcement Agents process and transport individuals suspected of malicious transactions within their jurisdiction. There are times when these professionals learn a foreign language.

Immigration Enforcement Agent Salary: $45,022/year

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agent

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents (ICE Agents) prevent smuggling activities of any kind between the United States and international borders. Often, they apprehend criminals who transport illegal guns or drugs into the country. Also, they control and prevent illegal migrants from entering the U.S.

ICE Agent Salary: $87,502/year

Prison Warden

Prison wardens are responsible for overseeing the entire area of prison facilities operations. They must have an overview of the cost and maintenance of prison upkeep and maintenance, as well as supervisin the grounds, cafeteria, and the staff.

One of their responsibilities includes monitoring inmates who are released or detained. Also, they must have an in-depth understanding and background in psychology and excellent communication skills with a sense of order and integrity.

Prison Warden Salary: $50,573/year

Internal Revenue Service Internal Security Inspector

Internal Revenue Service Internal Security Inspectors see to it that there is no corruption, fraud, and anomalies within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). They make sure that employees have a high level of integrity and honesty within the department.

These people investigate misconduct or any illegal transactions involving people who are in the IRS, including corrupt employees and bribery. Also, they conduct a background check of all prospective IRS workers.

IRS Internal Security Inspector Salary: $78,968/year

Computer Forensic Specialist

Computer Forensic Specialists locate and investigate illegal activities and transactions that have taken place in digital settings such as laptops, computers, or mobile devices.

They are meticulous people who can conduct reports and documentation that are important for interrogatory interactions. These people may interview criminals or showcase pieces of evidence during trial hearings.

Computer Forensic Specialist Salary: $50,271/year

Inspector General Investigator

Inspector General Investigators is to check and verify whether a particular set of processes within the government sector is fully compliant with ethical standards.

They eliminate and correct all kinds of fraud and inefficiency in governmental offices. Moreover, they verify financial records of departmental processes to ensure there are no discrepancies in the office.

Inspector General Investigator Salary: $48,026/year

FBI Agent

FBI Agents are highly trained individuals who have numerous responsibilities, working to protect and defend the U.S. in a multitude of probable capacities. They work against civil rights violations, violent crimes, public corruption, cybercrime, significant thefts, or terrorism. They are part of an organization that values integrity and commitment to the foundation.

FBI agents are one of the few glamorized law enforcement positions in the country, maintaining its reputation and credibility at the highest level. The majority of them studied political science, criminal justice, or engineering, while a few of them completed a degree in law.

FBI Agent Salary: $69,987/year

Drug Enforcement Administration Agent

Drug Enforcement Administration Agents evaluate evidence and collaborate internationally to stop dangerous criminals who supply the country with illegal drugs.

They investigate massive criminal activities related to drug imports and related crimes in the U.S. DEA agents facilitate drug intelligence programs and are accountable for criminal arrests.

They have risky roles and responsibilities as they may work in dangerous or remote areas. A DEA agent’s job requires a bachelor’s in criminology, criminal justice, or any related field.

DEA Agent Salary: $76,795/year

Criminal Profiler

Criminal Profilers conduct interviews with the criminals’ family members or identify pieces of evidence gathered by the police department. They are often called by the police department to assist them in figuring out the person responsible for the crime or how it took place.

Criminal profilers have the capability to break down basic data or evidence to establish personal or psychological profiling of the criminals and how the crime was committed.

Criminal Profiler Salary: $50,696/year

Customs Inspector

Customs Inspectors are people who quickly notice suspicious behaviors and telltale signs of individuals who smuggle in illegal weapons or drugs. They make sure that people and goods crossing the borders of the United States do not harm or pose any threats to the country.

In exceptional cases, they undergo training to work with canine units to complete their roles and responsibilities. Moreover, they work with law enforcement agencies and Homeland Security.

Customs Inspector Salary: $43,201/year

U.S. Postal Inspector

U.S. Postal Inspectors evaluates and investigates incidents that involve the U.S. postal service. They check people who send illegal substances through the mail. If the letter looks suspicious, U.S. postal inspectors are not allowed to open it without a search warrant.

U.S. postal inspectors must possess excellent analytical thinking skills and a sincere interest in protecting the common good.

U.S. Postal Inspector Salary: $79,000/year

Criminal Justice Policy Advisor

Criminal Justice Policy Advisors work with senior officials within the government to prevent domestic violence or human trafficking. They provide assessment and counseling of employees regarding criminal justice policies on the federal, local, or state level.

Criminal justice policy advisors assess old processes and develop new and improved programs to satisfy the needs of society. The majority of them have excellent verbal and non-verbal communication, providing solutions and recommendations through written proposals, as well as the ability to see how the system works.

Criminal Justice Policy Advisor Salary: $65,006/year

Digital Forensics Examiner

Digital Forensics Examiners are interested in keeping up-to-date with the latest innovations and computer technologies. They trace criminal activities on deleted computer files. They are experts at knowing how to reveal and restore deleted or hidden files.

Digital forensic examiners must be able to work alone and work long hours on a particular assignment. They often require education and certifications in computer and digital forensics programs or criminal justice.

Digital Forensics Examiner Salary: $74,125/year


Criminalists gather and assess pieces of evidence and clues related to the crime and put together the pieces of information to establish a report and findings. They must know how to interpret unique clues on DNA samples and traces of evidence in a discharged firearm.

They rely on scientific approaches, not psychic abilities, to solve the mysteries involved in a specific crime. They need to have excellent communication and analytical skills.

Criminalist Salary: $69,300/year

Border Patrol Agent

Border Patrol Agents are dedicated to providing safety and security of borders from illegal migrants and terrorist activities. They must be familiar with different devices that track unlawful entry to the U.S. Border patrol agents’ primary role is to be vigilant and alert of any unwanted physical activities within the borders of the country.

The majority of them are usually assigned to remote areas. Furthermore, they must be able to screen people while vested in firearms.

Border Patrol Agent Salary: $41,588/year

Classification Officer

Classification Officers determine the prison sentence of convicted individuals. They receive training in psychology and use their capabilities and understanding of human behavior when screening and interviewing inmates.

Classification officers verify and assess prisoners’ records and backgrounds altogether in making assessments or profiling. They must have an excellent sense of judgment to assess and comprehend criminals’ records.

Classification Officer Salary: $41,484/year

Counter-Terrorism Analyst

Counter-Terrorism Analysts are experts in understanding and evaluating information that will uncover terrorist groups and activities harming the security of the United States. They have a strong background in the cultural and anthropological aspects of terrorist groups threatening the country.

Also, they present mitigation plans and excellent strategies to discover a series of developing terrorist activities. These people possess excellent logical skills and must be updated on international affairs, as well as they often speak and understand multiple foreign languages.

Counter-Terrorism Analyst Salary: $48,500/year

Deportation Officer

Deportation Officers identify and subdue suspected illegal immigrants in the U.S. They know the rules and regulations that define an illegal immigrant status. Deportation officers also work with Homeland Security to make sure all related matters and paperwork are adequately handled.

Deportation officers must have a few years of professional experience in the standard law enforcement field.

Deportation Officer Salary: $68,757/year

Crime Lab Analyst

Crime Lab Analysts have one of the most exciting jobs in the criminal justice field. They integrate the sciences and showcase their knowledge and capabilities in a forensics laboratory.

CLA’s study and analyze pieces of data or information extensively from crime scenes to prove the innocence or guilt of people who are involved in criminal behavior. They produce written documentation based on DNA results or molecular biology. Also, some of them may provide their results or testify in court hearings.

Crime Lab Analyst Salary: $43,139 year


Criminologists have an in-depth understanding of psychology and human behavior with a background in demographics and crime rates to uncover the root causes of such actions.

They discover the mysteries of why these crimes have been committed or predict when the next crime will likely happen. Some criminologists are in the crime prevention field, understanding crime based on psychological approaches or methodologies.

Criminologist Salary: $57,192/year

Correctional Officer

Correctional Officers are people who maintain peace and order within prison facilities or detention establishments. They assign people to be in charge of inmates within the jails.

They monitor transactions and records of inmates’ visitors and related activities. They are always on alert for illegal activities and the exchange of drugs and weapons within the facilities. People with vigilance are suitable for this position.

Correctional Officer Salary: $50,162/year

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Criminal Justice degree worth it in terms of salary and job opportunities?

It depends on a variety of factors, such as the specific job market in your area, your skills and experience, and the level of your education. Generally, criminal justice majors can expect to make a decent salary and have a variety of job opportunities available to them, especially in fields such as law enforcement and corrections.

However, it’s important to research and consider the demand for criminal justice professionals in your desired career path before committing to a degree.

Additionally, gaining experience through internships or entry-level positions can often lead to higher-paying and more specialized roles in the field.

Is a BA or BS better for Criminal Justice?

It ultimately depends on your career goals and the specific job market you are interested in. A Bachelor of Science (BS) in Criminal Justice may offer a more scientific and research-based approach to the field, preparing students for careers in areas such as forensic science or crime analysis.

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Criminal Justice may have a more theoretical and social justice focus, preparing students for careers in law, policy, and advocacy.

Both degrees can lead to successful careers in criminal justice, so it’s important to research and choose a program that aligns with your interests and career goals.

Is it better to major in Criminology or Criminal Justice?

It depends on your career goals and interests. Criminology is a more theoretical and social science-based field focused on understanding the causes and consequences of crime. A major in criminology may prepare students for careers in research, policy, or advocacy related to crime and justice.

Criminal justice, on the other hand, is a more applied field focused on the practical aspects of law enforcement, corrections, and the criminal justice system. A major in criminal justice may prepare students for careers in law enforcement, corrections, or legal fields.

Ultimately, choose the major that aligns with your career goals and interests.

Key Takeaways

Are you ready to begin your career in criminal justice? There are certainly many options on our list to review. Depending on your education and prior experience, you will find a career in criminal justice that will fit your needs.

If you are presently working in the field of criminal justice, are you ready for a job promotion, or are you ready for a career change? If so, earning a master’s or doctorate degree will allow for additional opportunities, as well as an increase in salary.

Additional Resources:

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.