What Criminal Justice Careers are Available without a Degree?

If you are considering a career in law enforcement but have no current college degree, you are probably wondering what non-degree criminal justice careers are available. While the majority of top-level criminal justice careers will inevitably require a college degree, these careers are a great start for those looking to break into the field. Here is a comprehensive overview of how to break into this field.

Loss Prevention Specialist

Loss prevention specialists work to guard merchandise and goods by preventing potential theft at retail stores. Loss Prevention Specialists are sometimes referred to as Asset Protection Specialists. Because retail theft is such a major problem for many big box retailers, companies hire loss prevention specialists to minimize and eliminate the risk of theft. Sometimes Asset Management groups are even assembled to monitor potential theft by employees. Typically, loss prevention specialists earn just over minimum wage to start, and a high school diploma or GED is the only education required, however, it does help to have some college credits which can easily be gained at a local community college. Working in loss prevention can offer pertinent work experience for higher paying jobs in criminology and criminal justice. Loss prevention specialists can also aspire to move up the ranks into management and earn up to $60,000 or more working as facility security operations managers and directors.

Police Dispatchers

Dispatchers are an essential component of the law enforcement and first responder operations within cities, towns and major metropolitan areas. Dispatchers are often the first point of communication and provide a vital contact between distressed residents, police officers, firefighters and paramedics. Dispatchers routinely deal with distressed, frightened, angry or upset citizens and officers. They serve as the lifeline, both to the citizen and the officer handling the call for service. Usually those aspiring to become responders only need to have a high school diploma, or its equivalent, to get hired, but past contact center work experience is advantageous. Dispatchers can earn between $24,000 and $74,000 per year according to the United States Department of Labor.

Detectives and Criminal Investigators

Criminal investigators are specially-trained police officers who are called to investigate complex and major crimes. Normally, they are assigned to perform systematic examination of complicated cases that typical beat officers don’t have the time, resources or training to perform. Police detectives and investigators can earn up to $97,000, depending on geographic location, years of experience and their length of service. Most, however, earn around $70,000 per year. Detectives and criminal investigators are not characteristically entry-level jobs. Most detectives and criminal investigators start off as police officers before moving into this field. However, because many agencies still do not require degrees of their officers, it is possible to become a detective in as little as two years.

Long-term, it is good to consider going back to college to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in order to advance your future career in criminal justice, however, you can definitely get a start without it. Hopefully, this was a good start to give you a list of potential non-degree criminal justice careers.