Criminal Justice Salaries

What are the highest and lowest criminal justice salaries that I could earn?

Entry-level employees with an online associates degree in criminal justice will often start out at the lower end of the pay scale, in positions such as court administrators. According to, the starting salary for court administrators is around $28,030. Alternatively, associate degree holders can also enter the criminal justice field as police officers. also reports the national salary data for police officers as between $30,098 and $78,577.

Typically, a bachelors degree is required to become a probation officer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median criminal justice degree salary for probation officers and correctional treatment specialists was $47,200 in 2010. A recent graduate's criminal justice degree salary may be less than $30,920, while professionals with extensive experience may earn more than $80,750.

You will find that criminal justice salaries increase as your levels of education and experience increase. Earning a masters degree can open the door to leadership and senior positions that often pay higher salaries than those jobs available to those without an advanced degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings for first-line supervisors of police and detectives in 2010 was $78,260.

In addition to my criminal justice salary, will I earn benefits?

Most organizations offer a benefits package in addition to a salary for criminal justice professionals to attract and retain a good workforce. Factors that can affect your benefits package can include your geographical location, the type and title of position, and whether you work for a government, private or nonprofit organization.

Typically, a good benefits package can add as much as 25% to 30% to your criminal justice salary. If you are a criminal justice employee with an undergraduate or graduate degree, you can expect to receive a traditional benefits package that typically includes health insurance, dental care, eye care, paid time off (vacation, holidays, sick leave and personal days), retirement plans and basic life insurance. In addition to a traditional benefits package and salary for criminal justice employees, you may also be given extra perks such as membership discounts, tuition reimbursement, flex time and employee assistance plans.

On the other hand, if you are employed less than full time, you may find that benefit packages are not available to part-time employees. Also, part-time employees typically have smaller criminal justice salaries than full-time employees, so paying for healthcare coverage could be difficult, even if benefits were available. If benefits are important to you, increasing your education level by pursuing an undergraduate degree in criminal justice may position you for more opportunities, higher wages, and benefits eligibility.

Will I always earn a salary in my criminal justice job?

Your degree level, amount of experience and level of responsibility and the type of organization you work for will all play a part in determining whether you will receive a criminal justice salary or hourly wages.

If you have an undergraduate or graduate degree, you can be a competitive candidate for professional criminal justice positions such as probation officer, first-line police supervisor, crime scene investigator or forensic counselor. If you hold or choose to pursue a doctorate in criminal justice, you will most likely be employed in education-related positions. Typically, all of those types of positions are salaried because they are considered to require extensive training and education.

On the other hand, the wages of employees in positions, such as detention officers, court administrators and security officers are calculated at an hourly rate. These types of positions do not have subordinates who report to them, the level of responsibility is limited and while the positions may require industry knowledge, they do not require extensive amounts of training. If you are paid on an hourly basis, you can be paid overtime if you work more than 40 hours in a week.