How Much Can I Earn With a Degree in Criminal Justice and Law?

There is a broad spectrum of salaries in Criminal Justice and Law, with some lawyers making six-figure salaries, while security guards earn a median salary of $25,770. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), that’s substantially lower than the median salary for all workers without a college degree.

Jobs in Criminal Justice and Law tend to be well-compensated. This is both because they provide important services, and because they are often high on the stress scale.

Let’s take a look at some of the highest paying and most in-demand careers in the fields of Criminal Justice and Law.

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High Paying Jobs

If you want to make the highest salaries in Criminal Justice and Law, you should probably start studying for the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test. That’s because lawyers, also known as attorneys, are the highest earners in Criminal Justice and Law.


Experts in the law, lawyers usually specialize in a particular field, like immigration or patent law, and they can work in a variety of settings. These can include private practices, law firms, businesses, nonprofits, or government agencies.

To become a lawyer, you will need to attend law school and get a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree. Then, you’ll take the bar exam in order to become licensed to practice in your state bar. After all of that training, the median salary for all lawyers is around $118,160 per year. But the highest earners can make quite a bit more than that!

According to PayScale, these are the types of attorneys who earn the highest levels of compensation, when you count bonuses and other compensation along with base salary:

Fastest Growing Jobs

The careers with the largest projected growth in Criminal Justice and Law reflect the increasing cost of legal services and court cases. Fortunately, these roles are also well compensated!


If you want to get started in Criminal Justice and Law quickly, working as a paralegal could be a great way to get your foot in the door.

That’s because you can become a paralegal with just an associate degree, depending on the employer’s requirements for the job. That means you be able to complete your degree in just two years. And there’s room for advancement if you go this route – many paralegals go on to attend law school, eventually becoming attorneys.

Paralegals support lawyers, and as firms work to become more efficient, the BLS expects the demand for paralegals to increase 15 percent by 2026. And with a median salary of $49,500, your associate degree can quickly pay off.


Arbitrators work to resolve disputes outside of the courts, and are frequently former judges, lawyers or other professionals. They work to facilitate negotiations and act impartially in disputes between two opposing parties.

An interesting fact about this career is that most arbitrators don’t have a degree that’s specific to this job title. Most have at least a bachelor’s degree, although a law degree or MBA may be required for some positions.

Because arbitration can be much less costly than setting disputes through the courts, the BLS predicts an 11 percent increase in demand for arbitrators by 2026. And with a median salary of $59,770, this can be a rewarding path for someone with experience in their field who is looking for a career change.