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5 Popular Specializations for Criminology Majors

If you think you might be interested in a career in the field of criminal justice, perhaps you’re wondering about various criminology specializations and what they entail. There are numerous career paths that a college graduate with a major in criminology could pursue.

Criminology is a subtopic within the broader sociology course of study. A criminologist is a sociologist who specializes in understanding the sociology of those who commit crimes. These professionals can work for either public or private employers, but the common element is the professional use of their expertise to prevent and deter crimes.

Recommended resource: 20 Best Online Schools for Criminology 2017

Read on to discover 5 popular specializations for criminology majors.

1. Law Enforcement Officer

A career in law enforcement is one of the most obvious, straightforward and popular career paths a criminologist could pursue. Law enforcement officers can work at either the municipal, county, state or federal levels to enforce the laws in their jurisdictions. Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) offer some of the most desirable opportunities in this specialization. Annual median pay for this criminology specialization was $60,270 as of 2015.

2. Probation Officer

Probation officers fulfill an important role in the criminal justice system. Their main responsibility is the prevention of new crimes through careful monitoring of known criminals. Median annual pay for this criminology specialization was $49,360 as of 2015.

3. Police Detective

If you wish to become a police detective, you’ll typically begin your career as a police officer and then work towards a promotion to detective. Your chances of becoming a detective are better if you work for a large and well-funded police department. The annual median pay for this criminology specialization was $60,270 as of 2015.

4. Private Investigator

People hire private investigators to find information on a variety of topics that could be of legal, financial, business or personal importance. Some private investigators do background checks on job applicants on behalf of hiring organizations. Some work to find missing children. Some work to investigate phishing scams, hacking and other crimes committed via computer. As of 2015, private investigators were earning annual median pay of $45,610.

5. Juvenile Justice Department Staff

Children have an innate desire to emulate the behaviors of the adults around them. Unfortunately, this makes them easy prey for people with criminal intentions to manipulate. Juvenile justice departments have a need for staffers who specialize in working with criminals under the age of 18. Often, these children have been compelled to commit crimes by the adults they know; apprehending the true criminals takes sensitivity and skill that is an increasingly crucial asset to the criminal justice system.

People further specialize within juvenile justice departments in roles such as behavioral specialist, monitor, operations manager, correctional officer and compliance officer. The current average salary for a juvenile justice specialist is $65,210 per year as of April 2017. The highest paying jobs in this criminology specialization tend to be supervisory roles. Compliance officers also earn comfortable salaries, with the current average salary being $70,789 per year.

Some of the roles in the juvenile justice specialization are better suited to counseling majors than criminology majors. In any case, counseling experience is a desirable asset in this specialization. If you decide to pursue a career in juvenile justice, it could be worthwhile to take courses in counseling in addition to studying criminology.

These are five of the most popular career paths people follow after graduating from college with a major in criminology. Any of these criminology specializations could lead to a fascinating, lucrative and rewarding career in the field of criminal justice.