Administration of Justice Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of an administration of justice career? Get real job duties, career outlook and salary info to see if an administration of justice career is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of an Administration of Justice Career

Administration of justice (AOJ) is an educational and professional discipline that centers on the prevention, detection and management of crime and/or criminal offenders. Continue reading for the pros and cons of a career in administration of justice.

Pros of an Administration of Justice Career
Diverse work specializations*
Some employment options offer good earning potential (There are specializations that had a 2014 annual median salary of more than $50,000)*
Many entry-level positions have an educational requirement of only a high school diploma*
You can find employment anywhere in the country**

Cons of an Administration of Justice Career
Many jobs incur a higher rate of injury than the U.S. average (e.g. police officers, correctional officers, security guards and gaming officers)*
A graduate degree is required for the specialization with the highest earnings (College/university teachers usually need a Ph.D.)*
Employment rate is slower than the national average for certain specializations (During 2010 through 2020, projected increases of only five percent for correctional officers and seven percent for police officers)*
Some specializations are extremely or potentially stressful (e.g. police officers, correctional officers, security guards and gaming officers)*

Sources: *The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Online job postings (found April 2012).

Career Information

You will serve in a capacity of supporting, managing, dispensing and/or educating about standards, procedures and guidelines of the criminal justice system. You may work for the government or commercial entities in the fields of law enforcement, corrections, courts or private security. In the field of education, you may choose to teach and/or conduct research at a college or university.

Law Enforcement

In law enforcement, you will help impose the rules and regulations pertaining to criminal activities in our society. You will use various techniques and methodologies to prevent, detect and control crime. One employment option in law enforcement is to serve as a police officer. You would work for the local, state or federal government, protecting lives and property.

Corrections

If you choose to work in corrections, you would be employed by government or commercial organizations that help incarcerate criminal offenders. This includes working in prisons or other correctional facilities. For this field, you may consider becoming a correctional officer. You would oversee people who have been arrested or convicted of crimes.

Courts

The courts structure within the criminal justice system is where criminal cases are presented so that the law can be translated and applied to those cases. This field includes employment options that facilitate administrative and management functions of court activities. If you choose to be a paralegal, you would provide support services to lawyers. This may include a wide range of tasks, from conducting research to preparing and maintaining legal documents.

Security

The field of private security involves protecting property and individuals against harm. However, unlike law enforcement, which is administered by government agencies, private security is provided and maintained by businesses/commercial enterprises. One employment option within this field is as a security guard. You would primarily monitor and defend property to prevent damage, theft and other illegal activity.

Education

Administration of justice coursework is taught throughout the country at various educational levels, including at postsecondary institutions like colleges and universities. In addition to teaching, you may participate in research about the criminal justice system and publish reports and/or books on the subject.

Salary Info

Your salary will significantly vary with your specialization and duties. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the 2014 annual mean salary for postsecondary criminal justice teachers was about $61,750, whereas security guards made approximately $28,040 during the same year. Police officers earned about $59,560, paralegals earned $51,840, and correctional officers received $44,190 for their annual mean salaries in 2014, also according to the BLS.

What Are the Career Requirements?

Undergraduate and graduate programs in administration of justice are available at every degree level. Additionally, there are related degree programs, such as criminal justice. However, educational training requirements vary among specializations.

Law Enforcement

The BLS reports that police officers must have at least a high school diploma, with some governing agencies requiring a bachelor's degree. Usually, police officers also have to attend a training academy administered by their agency. Those who want to work in law enforcement should have good judgement and leadership skills, along with an empathic personality.

Corrections

Correctional officers are generally required to have a high school diploma or GED, and on-the-job training is provided. However, the BLS reports that correctional officers at federal prisons must have at least a bachelor's degree and specific full-time work experience in the field. Because you will be confronted with hostile situations, it's important to have the physical strength to deal with inmates.

Courts

To become a paralegal, you can obtain an associate's degree in paralegal studies. Another option is to earn a certificate in paralegal studies if it is coupled with a bachelor's degree in a related discipline. On-the-job training for college graduates with no work experience is sometimes provided by employers. To work as a paralegal, you must have strong organizational and research skills in order to help lawyers with cases.

Security

Unarmed security guards usually need a high school diploma or GED; however, some employers may not require it. Armed security guards generally need a high school diploma or equivalent, and possibly some college coursework. On-the-job training is usually given. In addition to the physical strength to work in security, it's important that individuals working in this field have good observation skills.

The BLS reports that most U.S. states require that security guards be licensed. While licensing requirements vary among states, guards must usually be at least 18 years old, complete a training program and pass a background check, according to the BLS. Armed security guards must also be licensed by government agencies to carry a weapon.

Education

According to the BLS, most college/university teachers must have a Ph.D. However, some institutions - including vocational and technical schools - may accept a master's degree. Also, some schools prefer hiring those with teaching experience, which can be obtained through employment as a graduate teaching assistant. Individuals who want to work in academia must have strong critical-thinking, communication and instructional skills.

What Employers Are Looking For

Employment opportunities in fields of administration of justice are not geographically limited, but can be found throughout the U.S. Skill trends for employment vary widely by position, ranging from physical strength for corrections officers and security guards to research and writing for paralegals and professors.

A few job listings from April 2012 are as follows:

  • A law firm in Washington, D.C., wants to hire an entry-level paralegal with a college degree or equivalent paralegal work experience. Applicants must have research skills and Microsoft Office skills. Knowledge of industry technology and computer databases, along with excellent communication skills, is also required.
  • A private security service company in Kissimmee, FL, is looking for a security guard who has a State Guard Card or can obtain one. The successful candidate must have superior customer service skills and be able to work long, irregular hours. You must be very proficient in written and verbal forms of the English language and be at least 18 years old. You must also have at least one verifiable employment reference and no criminal convictions.
  • A community college in Springfield, MA, has an opening for an assistant professor for its law enforcement/criminal justice department. You must have a master's degree in criminal justice and teaching experience at a college. Experience with contemporary teaching modalities and learning communities is preferred.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Obtaining certification in your field gives you a professional credential that may be advantageous for securing more job opportunities or for career advancement. Certification is usually provided through trade organizations and is given upon passing an examination. For example, security guards can earn the Certified Protection Professional designation through the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) International. Paralegals can obtain designation as a Certified Paralegal through the National Association of Legal Assistants.

Other ways to stand out in the job market may include obtaining advanced professional training or completing degree programs beyond the common requirement. Some employers may offer options for additional training. However, continuing education or advanced training is usually available through trade organizations and at educational institutions.

Alternative Career Paths

Lawyer

If you would like to work in the court system, but want a higher salary than a paralegal, you may want to consider becoming a lawyer. In 2011, the annual median salary for lawyers was about $113,000, which is about $66,000 more than the annual median salary for paralegals in the same year. However, the educational requirement to become a lawyer includes three years of post-baccalaureate studies at a law school. You must also pass a written bar examination to practice law.

Parole Officer

If you are interested in the corrections field, but don't want to risk incurring the level of injury associated with guarding prisoners, than becoming a parole officer may be a better fit. The overall educational requirement is a bachelor's degree, which is a higher requirement than that of most correctional officers. However, the 2011 median salary was $48,000, compared to $39,000 received by correctional officers during the same period, according to the BLS.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Legal Studies
      • B.A. - Criminal Justice
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Arts - Paralegal
  • Online Programs Available
    2. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Corrections and Case Management
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Generalist
      • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Homeland Security and Crisis Management
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor - Management - Criminal Justice
      • Doctorate: Management - Homeland Security
    Master's
      • M.S. - Criminal Justice
      • Master: Management - Homeland Security
    Bachelor's
      • BS - Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice - Intelligence & Crime Analysis Track
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
      • Master of Public Administration - Government and Policy
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Penn Foster Career School

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Career Diploma: Legal Secretary
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Public Administration - Criminal Justice
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Criminal Justice
      • B.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice
    Associate's
      • A.S. Criminal Justice
      • A.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice
    Certificate
      • Undergraduate Certificate - Criminal Justice
  • Stanford, CA

    Stanford University

Featured Schools

Keiser University

  • B.A. - Legal Studies
  • B.A. - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Paralegal

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Corrections and Case Management
  • Bachelor or Science - Criminal Justice: Generalist
  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice

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Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor - Management - Criminal Justice
  • M.S. - Criminal Justice
  • BS - Criminal Justice

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Penn Foster High School

  • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
  • HS Diploma

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Northcentral University

  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Criminal Justice - Intelligence & Crime Analysis Track

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
  • Master of Public Administration - Government and Policy

What is your highest level of education?

Penn Foster Career School

  • Career Diploma: Legal Secretary

What is your highest level of education?