Criminal Justice Teacher Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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A criminal justice teacher's mean annual salary is about $61,750, but is it worth the education and skills requirements? Get the truth about job duties and career prospects to decide if the field is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of Becoming a Criminal Justice Teacher

Most criminal justice teachers find employment at the postsecondary level and teach classes that educate college students about a variety of topics, including law and society, criminology, common crime patterns, behavioral psychology and crime prevention methods. Learn more about the pros and cons you can expect as a criminal justice instructor before pursuing this option.

PROS of a Criminal Justice Teaching Career
Flexible schedule (postsecondary teachers typically only spend 12-16 hours per week teaching and usually can set their own schedules for the remainder of the week)*
Tasks like grading assignments and preparing for lectures can be performed at home, anytime*
Teachers can be surrounded in an academic and intellectually stimulating environment*
Above-average job growth (13% growth from 2012-2022)*

CONS of a Criminal Justice Teaching Career
Advanced study required (most postsecondary criminal justice teachers must have a graduate degree)*
Expected decrease in the number of full-time, tenured faculty positions available (29% of all postsecondary teachers worked part-time in 2010)*
Stressful (pressure to perform research while also teaching classes)*
Frequent need to provide online support for classes and respond daily to student questions by e-mail*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Description

Criminal justice, as a discipline, draws upon ideas and theories from a wide range of fields, including psychology, sociology, public policy and law. Criminal justice teachers generally find work at community colleges, technical schools and universities. Your teaching, however, might extend beyond college students, since some criminal justice professors lead enrichment programs for law enforcement professionals who are looking to brush up on their skills or advance to higher positions within their agency.

Duties often can include both teaching and independent criminal justice research. Criminal justice teachers can lead general education classes that introduce undergraduates to the field of criminology, or they might teach specialized classes in advanced topics like crime theory, loss prevention or cybercrime. Like all educators, criminal justice teachers must connect with students, provide individual support and offer insightful commentary on current criminal justice issues. Instructors can also mentor and advise students to give them practical knowledge that they might apply to their future careers.

Salary and Outlook

Postsecondary teaching openings should increase 19% through 2022 as more people seek professional development training and certification, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, criminal justice and law enforcement postsecondary teachers will experience only 13% job growth from 2012-2022.

The BLS reported in May 2014 that criminal justice professors overall earned a mean annual salary of approximately $61,750 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov). Junior colleges paid on average $59,500, while colleges and universities paid an average of $64,600. Law enforcement experts teaching at technical and trade schools took home a lower mean wage of approximately $50,140 per year.

Education and Career Requirements

With just a master's degree and work experience, you might be hired as a criminal justice teacher at a community college. However. universities often require full-time professors have a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Master's degree programs cover a variety of social science topics and research methods. You might take classes in statistics, forensics, law and corrections. A few colleges also award graduate teaching fellowships to master's degree students, so that they can practice instructing in the classroom. A Ph.D. program requires you to conduct extensive research in order to complete your dissertation and usually allows you to apply for teaching assistant positions.

Useful Skills

To secure a postsecondary teaching position at a college or university, you'll often need more than just your graduate degree. Schools look for dedicated teachers who can juggle both research and teaching duties. Based on job ads that were placed by a selection of schools and universities, traits of a successful criminal justice teacher include:

  • Clear communication skills
  • Ability to meet and work with faculty members from other related departments
  • Effective teaching methods that can adapt to different levels of learning
  • Strong technology skills
  • An interest in promoting diversity
  • Detailed knowledge of criminology and the criminal justice system

Job Postings from Real Employers

When hiring criminal justice teachers, universities and colleges usually put the most weight on the applicant's level of education and prior teaching experience. In addition to earning an advanced degree, many postsecondary criminal justice teachers must also be able to teach remotely through online course delivery systems. Below are a few job postings for criminal justice teaching positions from March 2012:

  • A public research university in Arizona is seeking a lecturer to teach four classes every semester at the school's criminal justice and criminology department. Applicants must have a master's degree in the field and prior undergraduate teaching experience, although a Ph.D. is preferred. Those who have experience teaching online have an advantage.
  • A private liberal arts college in Oklahoma offers a full-time, tenured associate professor position in criminal justice. The school seeks candidates with a doctoral degree in criminal justice or sociology and prior teaching experience.
  • A public university in Michigan advertised for criminal justice teachers who are available to teach individual classes in subjects like criminal procedures and domestic violence. Application requirements include a master's degree, online teaching experience and work experience in the criminal justice, corrections or loss prevention fields.
  • A private college based in Phoenix, AZ, is looking for a criminal justice teacher to teach online undergraduate classes. Applicants must have at least a master's degree and experience in the criminal justice field. Since classes are conducted remotely, the school prefers a tech-savvy instructor.

How to Stand out

Since postsecondary teaching positions are quite competitive, you'll want additional skills that can set you apart from other applicants. You might want to sharpen your technological skills through enrichment classes or self-practice. According to the BLS, college teachers often need to communicate with students online, whether they are exchanging e-mail messages or posting class assignments. Since schools increasingly rely on technology to help students and instructors communicate and interact with each other, you may want to learn how to manage an online classroom and instruct students remotely, using tools like discussion boards, webcams and software programs.

The BLS reported that another way postsecondary teaching applicants can stand out from other candidates is by gaining prior teaching experience. If you've decided to enroll in a graduate-level criminal justice program, you may want to take advantage of teaching opportunities at your school. A teaching assistant position can allow you to lead your own class of undergraduate students every semester and practice important teaching strategies firsthand before you even complete your degree program.

Other Career Paths

Social Sciences Teacher

If criminal justice education interests you, but you've decided you don't want to earn a graduate degree, you might work as an elementary or high school social sciences teacher. According to the BLS, you first need to earn your bachelor's degree, complete a teacher training program and receive your teaching license before working at a public school.

The number of jobs for kindergarten and elementary school teachers were expected to grow at an average pace of 17% from 2010-2012, according to the BLS. Employment for high school teachers, however, was expected to increase at a slower than average pace of 7%. Your chances of employment are higher in cities and rural areas, but these locations usually come with lower salaries. As of May 2011, elementary school teachers earned a mean salary of just over $55,000 per year, while high school teachers made an average wage approaching $57,000 annually.

Probation or Correctional Officer

If you're set on the criminal justice field, but don't necessarily want to teach, you might consider becoming a probation officer or correctional treatment specialist. If you want to work with young people, you could also work as a juvenile probation officer.

To take this path, the BLS reported that you typically need a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or social work. You might also find an undergraduate program that allows you to specialize in juvenile justice. Before working, you usually must attend a training program sponsored by the state or federal government. You might also have to pass a certification test. This job field was expected to grow at an average pace of 18% from 2010-2020, but positions often depend on the government's budget. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned a mean annual salary of approximately $52,000 as of May 2011.

Criminal Justice Administrator or Analyst

Besides job options in education, criminal justice professionals may act as analysts, administrators or managers at police departments, governmental agencies and other institutions. This field requires sound leadership and organization skills. The demand and salary for these positions are difficult to estimate and can depend on your education level, experience and employer.

For example, PayScale.com reported in 2012 that intelligence analysts with bachelor's degrees earned a yearly median salary of just over $82,000. Crime analysts with bachelor's degrees made a lower median wage of about $51,000, and loss prevention managers earned a median income of just over $46,000 annually.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Criminal Justice
      • Master: Criminal Justice
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
      • BS in Corrections
      • BSCJ: Law Enforcement
      • BSCJ: Juvenile Justice
      • BSCJ: Crime Scene Investigation
      • BSCJ: Homeland Security
    Associate's
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • AAS in Criminal Justice and Criminology
      • AAS in Public Safety and Security
      • Associate: Fire Science
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
      • Master of Arts in Law - National Security
      • Master of Public Administration - Emergency Management and Homeland Security
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Criminal Justice
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Corrections
      • Bachelor of Arts in Law and National Security
      • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
  • Campus and Online Programs
    3. South College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Science in Investigation & Security
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Central Christian College of Kansas

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AA in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Saint Leo University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BA: Criminal Justice
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
      • BA: Criminal Justice - Homeland Security
    Associate's
      • AA: Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
      • MS in Leadership: Disaster Preparedness & Executive Fire Leadership
  • Campus Locations:
    7. CDI College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Diploma in Law Enforcement Foundations
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Post University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. in Criminal Justice
      • B.S. in Human Services / Criminal Justice
    Associate's
      • A.S. in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Athens, GA

    University of Georgia

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor: Criminal Justice
  • Associate: Criminal Justice

Which subject are you interested in?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Criminal Justice
  • Master of Arts in Law - National Security
  • Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

South College

  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Science in Investigation & Security

What is your highest level of education completed?

Central Christian College of Kansas

  • AA in Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Saint Leo University

  • BA: Criminal Justice
  • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
  • AA: Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Grand Canyon University

  • MS in Criminal Justice: Law Enforcement
  • MS in Leadership: Disaster Preparedness & Executive Fire Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

CDI College

  • Diploma in Law Enforcement Foundations

What year did you graduate high school?

Post University

  • B.S. in Criminal Justice
  • B.S. in Human Services / Criminal Justice
  • A.S. in Criminal Justice

Education Level: