Criminal Justice Job Outlook

by Thomas Dworak, Sgt. (Ret.), Virtus Group

A career in criminal justice is very rewarding. While at times very demanding, a criminal justice job is also very satisfying. But for those that serve, it is hard to ignore the few who disparage the profession. You must always remember, the silent majority want you there to make their communities a safe place to live. The criminal justice profession needs courageous and principled candidates to stand watch. Whether you are a current or prospective criminal justice student or an armed forces member, now is the time to consider a career in criminal justice.

Learn More About CJ DegreesAs the economy continues to move upward, many law enforcement and corrections agencies are hiring. Add in the numbers of baby boomer senior officers who are reaching retirement and there will be a big demand for highly-qualified applicants to fill the void. Let's examine anticipated career opportunities within the criminal justice field. All data provided by  the Bureau of Labor Statistics (

Law Enforcement
There is a predicted 5% increase in all law enforcement by 2021, increasing by 41,400 officers across the country, for a total of 821,300 positions. Looking at individual categories we find a 2% increase for detectives and criminal investigators, or a net gain of 2,300 positions. Fish and game wardens show an increase of 1% to 6,700. Police and sheriff's patrol officers will be up 6%, adding another 38,800 officers to the ranks. Rail and transit police are expected to rise by 3%. These statistics don’t indicate a large increase but a steady one. Those who chose law enforcement as their criminal justice career can expect intense competition. Applicants who have a college degree, military experience and can speak a second language will do well in finding employment.

Make yourself stand out, obtain an online criminal justice degree and increase your chances of being selected for a position.

As with law enforcement, a 5% increase is expected in the field of corrections. A total of 43,000 positions will be added to the bailiff and corrections officer field within the next 6 years. The best prospects will be with private sector prison companies who are now being contracted to provide services to many state prison systems. Prospective applicants in this criminal justice field will increase the chance of employment with prior military experience and/or a college degree.

A criminal justice career as a police, fire and ambulance dispatcher is gratifying. The outlook for criminal justice jobs in this field is expected to be 8% or almost an additional 100,000 positions by 2021. The availability of cell phones has increased the number of calls telecommunicators handle daily. The overall outlook in this criminal justice field is very good. Basic requirements are a high school diploma, with some states requiring advanced certification. Those with a military background in communications would do well in this career field.

Social Worker
This position is expected to have one of the largest growth rates in the criminal justice field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a 19% increase-- an additional 114,100 jobs. Not all social workers are in the criminal justice arena but many law enforcement departments and corrections agencies employ social workers. A bachelor's degree is required, while those seeking to become a clinical social worker are required to have a master's degree, advanced supervised training, and be licensed in the state where they will practice.

The criminal justice career field is growing. Regardless of the criminal justice job you choose, each is very rewarding. Make yourself stand out, obtain an online criminal justice degree and increase your chances of being selected for a position.

Bio: Sgt. Thomas Dworak served the Wilmette, Il. Police Department for 31 years in a wide variety of assignments. Now retired, Sgt. Dworak is a consultant for The Virtus Group ( providing adaptive leadership training to law enforcement and corrections officers through the Growing Courage leadership program.