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The Highest Paying Careers in Criminal Justice

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The Highest Paying Careers in Criminal Justice

The Highest Paying Careers in Criminal Justice

If you have been considering a career in law enforcement, there are plenty of job opportunities available. From beginner-level jobs such as paralegal assistants to high-level positions such as a court judge or a senior attorney, pursuing a career in law enforcement can provide a great deal of advancement opportunities.

The criminal justice system is responsible for the enforcement of state and federal laws as well as the delivery of justice. It consists of multiple government agencies and institutes, including defense, police, law enforcement, prosecution lawyers, court systems, and prison.

Criminal justice is certainly a broad field that offers a diverse range of career opportunities. Some of these positions, such as those of court judges and police officers, are commonly known. Others, however, may not be the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of careers in law enforcement, for instance, game wardens.

In reality, law enforcement is a widely diverse and broad industry that offers many intriguing and rewarding jobs. Professionals who work as part of the criminal justice system implement their knowledge of law enforcement, sociology, psychology, political science, and forensic science to contribute as important workers in the rapidly-evolving law industry.

Here we will discuss some of the best-paying law enforcement jobs in Virginia according to the updated information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) and some other sources.


Lawyers serve as the preliminary example of law enforcement careers that offer a high salary. Attorneys or lawyers represent parties in criminal and civil trials, guiding the clients about their legal obligations and rights. They are found at all levels of the justice system, starting from the lawyers of the small claims court to the ones representing large-scale national trials.

They use their knowledge and experience of laws, research, and judicial decisions to advocate or advise clients on personal and business courses of action. Attorneys can also acquire a specialization in one specific field of law, such as civil law, criminal law, bankruptcy, insurance, intellectual property, probate laws, and many others.

In order to qualify for employment, lawyers have to complete a four-year undergrad degree and three years of law school to advance to licensing programs and bar examinations. They can earn up to $163,000 annually.

Police Officers

Police officers are responsible for collecting evidence, maintaining public order, testifying in court, chasing and apprehending people who commit felonies, investigating suspicious activities, and reporting such events. They also answer calls from people who need assistance, detain people for a limited course of time, and make arrests.

Police officers have to follow a rigid code of conduct for their job responsibilities and have to make sure that they maintain the integrity of their official powers when enforcing the law.

The qualification for police officers requires training as well as the completion of many written, medical, and physical tests. Candidates who clear these tests then advance to the police academy training programs, where they are subjected to practical training and classroom instruction. Police officers can earn up to $65,000 annually.

Private Investigators and Detectives

Private investigators and detectives provide focused law enforcement strategies to collect evidence, maintain laws, solve crimes, evaluate records, and detain criminals. These law enforcement professionals collect facts and information through observation, interviews, and assessing records to provide assistance in raids and arrests.

Depending on the organization they are working for, detectives might be licensed or unlicensed. Most private investigators work for police organizations, private firms, interagency task forces, fraud, forensics, and other specialized fields. Most detectives and private investigators can earn up to $92,000 annually after completing the required education and experience.


Paralegals work in law offices and firms, corporations, organizations, bankruptcy firms, public notaries, arbitration services, license service companies, and also as independent consultants managing different tasks. The responsibility of a paralegal is to research, evaluate, and information used for meetings, hearings, trials, as well as other proceedings.

Paralegals also provide assistance in preparing tax returns, managing clients’ trust funds, and estate planning. They might also coordinate the schedules and responsibilities of other law office members and maintain budgetary records for their administrations of employment.

A two-year associate degree is required in the paralegal program in order to qualify for employment as a paralegal. Paralegals can earn as much as $58,000 annually.

Forensic Analysts

Forensic analysts are an important part of the law enforcement system who are responsible for collecting, organizing, analyzing, and identifying physical evidence associated with criminal justice investigations. They are employed in the state, city, or county offices, labs, crime scenes, and morgues where they work in collaboration with the police department, medical examiners, hospital staff, and toxicology technicians.

Many forensic analysts acquire specialization in the fields of biochemistry, fingerprinting, and ballistics and often appear in the courts as skilled witnesses presenting the lab findings. They are required to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree program in criminal justice specializing in forensic science to qualify for the candidacy of a forensic analyst. Forensic analysts can make up to $58,000 yearly.

Corrections Officers

With all the judicial and law enforcement employees finding the felons guilty and sending them off to prisons, someone has to manage the prisons. The job of a correctional officer is to oversee the prisoned criminals in the jails, prison cells, and other detention facilities upholding institutional policies and regulations and maintaining security.

Correctional officers might also complete inmate behavior reports, transport prisoners, and assess facilities for contraventions regarding safety, sanitation, and hazard control. In order to qualify for the employment of a correctional officer, you have to get a high school diploma and complete training of the American Correctional Association. Correctional officers can earn up to $51,000 annually.

With so many great high-paying job opportunities in law enforcement, it is an exceptional career to pursue. Although most of the criminal justice positions require degrees and extensive training programs, the program itself is an outstanding leaping-off point for continued education and an incredibly rewarding career. A law enforcement degree might not instantly get you a six-figure job, but it will certainly set you well on your path.

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