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There is much more to criminal justice than law enforcement officials who fight crime in the field. You can get a criminal justice degree and work from an office, too.
Newer careers have been birthed—each technology boom creates necessary new positions like cyber security. Additionally, tech growth has helped advance longer-standing criminal justice careers such as paralegals, by making research and organization more effective.
If you’re looking into criminal justice degrees, but know you want to stay in an office environment, then read on to find out about the two great and in-demand careers: cyber security and paralegal.
You want to catch criminals guilty of illegal activity? You are looking at the fascinating career of a cyber security professional. Cyber security professionals are trained to protect their clients’ online assets from malicious outside attacks.
What Does A Cyber Security Professional Do?
You’ll train to analyze all computer activity and know how to track that activity back to its source. Your specific duties will be determined by where you work. You will have an extremely broad skill set, from the fundamentals of IT, to coding, to attack mitigation, and so much more. Part of your job will be to keep up with the ever-evolving trends and advancements in technology.
How To Get Into Cyber Security
If you’re interested in cyber security and are thinking of entering the profession, then here’s what you’re going to need to do:
- Get your high school diploma or GED.
- Most hiring personnel prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree. So, consider a BS in Information Technology with a concentration in cyber security, or a BS in Information Technology Management and Cyber Security. Or you can just flat-out major in cyber security. There are other entrance point degrees, but they are closely related to the ones mentioned.
- Get your first job post-degree. Most likely, you’ll start with an entry-level position. But, with your degree and the buildup of experience, you’ll be able to move up that career ladder.
- Earning certifications in your industry is always a really good idea. There are many available. Look at the CompTIA Security+ or the Network Security Administrator certifications; they are highly regarded.
Where Do Cyber Security Professionals Work?
This is a highly competitive field, but it can be fun, as well as intensely demanding. There are growth opportunities available within the field of cyber security, with dozens of jobs falling under that umbrella. Many are based within the government, but many other companies and corporations rely on the cyber security team to keep all their stored information safe.
Once you have the proper education and credentials, you’ll be able to work in air force bases, for the Department of Homeland Security, in local and state government, or in any number of corporate jobs.
Examples of criminal justice careers in cyber security include the following:
- Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)
- Cryptographer (involves deciphering encrypted data)
- Network security engineer
- Intrusion detection specialist
- Security analyst or consultant
How Much Does A Cyber Security Professional Make?
Depending on your level of experience, the state you live in, and what industry you’re employed with, salaries range the gamut. A cyber security internship, which is a step in the front door that gives you tons of experience, can earn you over $20/hr. The high end of the spectrum sees annual salaries well into the $190Ks, according to the job salaries posted on Glassdoor.
Job opportunities will be plentiful, especially as more businesses run everything online. And the more work experience you have, the more lucrative the jobs will be.
Another criminal justice career that lets you work behind a desk is the role of paralegal. In some instances, paralegal and legal assistant job descriptions are similar, but they are not the same. Paralegals are lawyers’ right-hand people. It can be a great job if you have the appropriate education and personality.
What A Paralegal Does
What you’ll do as a paralegal will depend on the specialty of the law firm or government agency you’re practicing.
If you’re in a law firm, you may have more of an administrative assistant role, drafting legal documents, filing motions, preparing for trials and hearings, and interviewing clients. There will be document preparation in your job description, along with general office duties.
Essentially, you’re keeping the law office on course for smooth sailing. You’re trustworthy, organized, and able to handle the type of stress associated with jobs in the legal field.
How To Become A Paralegal
A major differentiating factor between paralegals and legal assistants is the education necessary. Paralegals must have a postsecondary education.
- Graduate high school or get your GED.
- You can either get an associate or a bachelor’s degree. These days, a bachelor’s degree is the ticket to entry-level positions, but there are many exceptions to that new “rule.”
- Once you have your degree, get a job.
- You may want to consider getting one of the various optional certifications that are available to paralegals.
Where Do Paralegals Work?
There are many industries aside from a law office that paralegals can find themselves a job. Although the predominant source of employment will be legal services, other places to work would be:
- Federal, local, or state government
- Finance and insurance
- Manufacturing companies
- Advertising and public relations
Having a paralegal on staff is becoming more common for many different types of entities because it’s less expensive than having an in-house attorney. And, the more specialized you are, the better variety of jobs you’ll be eligible for.
You can specialize in:
- Estate and probate
- Family law
- Intellectual property
- Real estate
How Much Paralegals Make
The average salary of a paralegal in the United States is $54K, according to Glassdoor. But, similar to the variety of industries hiring paralegals, the salaries are varied, as well. Your pay will depend on factors such as your experience, where you work, and what state you live in. There will be over 41K new positions opened through 2026, so as long as you have the right credentials, you’ll find yourself working as a paralegal.
Criminal Justice Your Way
If you want to work in law enforcement or the legal system, but know being out in the field or inside the courtroom on a daily basis isn’t for you, then become a cyber security professional or paralegal and make a mark for good from behind a desk.
More reading: A Full Guide Of Criminal Justice Careers
Study help: criminal justice practice test