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The Highest Paying Jobs in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Explore the Best-Paying Criminal Justice and Criminology Careers


Ask most people who work in criminal justice and criminology careers why they do what they do, and they'll probably tell you that they wanted to help people, they wanted to serve their community, or they wanted to make a difference.

These are laudable goals, and it speaks a lot about a person when he is willing to make sacrifices so that he can help make the world around them a better place.  Don't fool yourself, though.  More often than not, there are plenty of other reasons to be a police officer or work in other criminology careers.

Certainly altruism plays a role in their decision, but let's be honest here.  Earning a decent living doesn't hurt, either.  If you're like most people, the prospect of making money influences your career choices as much as anything else.  To help make that decision a little easier, here's a list of the highest paying jobs in criminology and criminal justice.  Salaries are based on national averages, and can vary from department and geographic location.

16. Fish and Game Warden - $54,950

A lawyer questioning a suspect
Image Source/Photodisc/Getty Images
Fish and game wardens are conservation officers.  Their primary purpose is to enforce laws pertaining to conservation and environmental protection.  Fish and game wardens perform the combined functions of marine patrol officers and wildlife officers.  They deal with hunters, boaters, fishers and outdoor recreation enthusiasts and work to make sure  that wildlife and woodlands are safe and available for all to enjoy.

15. Forensic Science Technicians - $55,070

Fingerprint kit
Tim Roufa

Forensic science technicians work in laboratories and at crime scenes.  They assist police officers, detectives and special agents with the collection and analysis of evidence.  Forensic scientists are often non-sworn technicians who serve vital functions in the crime-solving process.  The job classification includes specializations such as bloodstain pattern analysts and forensic ballistic experts.

14. Police Officers and Deputy Sheriffs - $55,180

Police badges
Tim Roufa

Patrol officers are on the front lines of any crime fighting strategy.  Police officers and sheriffs' deputies patrol the streets of their communities and respond to calls for service.    A day in the life of a police officer can include investigations of minor crimes, traffic crash investigations, traffic stops and responding to fights and instances of domestic violence.  Officers typically perform shift work and are called to perform a large and diverse variety of job functions.

13. Fire Investigators - $56,310

Fire Investigator
Tim Roufa
Fire investigators work for local fire and sheriffs' departments and fire marshals' offices. They look into suspicious fires and conduct arson investigations. Fire investigators are specially trained agents and have investigative and law enforcement powers. They respond to fire scenes, prepare warrants, write reports and make arrests based on their findings.

12. Corrections Officer Managers and Supervisors - $59,810

Image of Handcuffed Suspect
Timothy Roufa
Supervisors and mangers of corrections officers are responsible for the actions and da- to-day work of their subordinate personnel.  They general work their way up the ranks, starting out as corrections officers themselves.  They work in jails and prisons and ensure the safety both of the officers and inmates they supervise.

11. Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement College Instructors - $62,750

Police Academy Classroom
Tim Roufa
Criminal justice college instructors work in community college, vocational and police academy environments to prepare students for careers in criminal justice.  They may serve as police instructors or adjunct professors.  Typically, they have prior law enforcement or other related experience, as well as at least a bachelor's degree in either criminal justice or criminology.

10. Police Detectives and Investigators - $65,860

Crime scene tape
Tim Roufa
Police detectives work with patrol officers and other law enforcement personnel to solve more serious or complicated crimes and strings of cases. Detectives start out as police officers and either promote or transfer into the investigative division or bureau. Detectives usually work during normal business hours, but may be subject to call out at any hour of the day or night.

9. Immigrations and Customs Inspectors - $65,860

Police K-9
Barbara Roufa
Customs inspectors and immigrations officers include members of the United States Border Patrol and officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  They work to enforce laws regarding entry into the United States and keep potential dangerous individuals, materials, weapons and drugs from entering the country.

8. Police Identification and Records Officers - $65,860

Fingerprint kit
Tim Roufa
Sworn police officers often serve as crime scene technicians, doing double duty as lab tech and crime scene investigator.  Police identification and records officers respond to crime scenes, identify and collect evidence such as fingerprints, and perform the necessary analysis.  They work closely with police detectives to solve crimes and ensure convictions.

7. Special Agents - $65,860

U.S. Marshals
Gerogia Department of Defense / Georgia National Guard

Special agents most often work for investigative agencies and include jobs such as FBI agents, NCIS agents, DEA agents, ICE agents and Secret Service agents.  Though some agents may work for state agencies, special agent jobs are typically found in federal law enforcement careers.  Agents are specially trained investigators and specialize in the detection and investigation of a variety of crimes.

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