4 Most Popular Criminal Justice Jobs in Texas

If you’re looking for a promising career, criminal justice offers plenty of possibilities for your future. You can choose from several subfields — such as security, law enforcement and corrections — and build your career through experience and education.

In criminal justice, as in so many other things, Texas leads the way. The most popular criminal justice jobs in Texas illustrate just a few of the opportunities in this rich and diverse career path. While not all of these careers require a bachelor’s degree to get started, earning one is critical to career advancement. All employment and salary information is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unless otherwise noted.

security guards careers

Security guards protect a particular building or area from theft, vandalism and other forms of illegal activity. They can work for private companies, government facilities, educational institutions and other employment environments.

At just over 87,000 employees in the state alone, security guards, along with armored car guards and gaming surveillance officers, occupy the spot for the most popular criminal justice job in Texas. And while it’s a great way to begin a career in criminal justice, there is plenty of room for growth with additional education and experience.

By earning a bachelor’s degree and gaining some experience in the field, security guards can pursue a career as a security manager, which earns a median salary of $58,387. Security directors earn $72,344 (PayScale).

  • Employees: 87,020
  • Salary: $25,840
  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent; bachelor’s degree for advanced positions

police and sheriff's patrol officers careers


Patrol officers are responsible for protecting others’ lives and property. They also conduct traffic stops, prepare cases and testify, respond to emergencies and investigate suspicious activity.

Second in Texas for criminal justice, police and patrol officer positions are the top employment choice for law enforcement professionals. Traditionally, a high school diploma or associate degree is required for patrol officers, but departments across the nation are starting to require the bachelor’s degree.

There are further career growth opportunities for these types of officers, including positions as a supervisor, detective or criminal investigator, in addition to a number of federal law enforcement roles.

  • Employees: 56,890
  • Salary: $53,030
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree preferred

correctional officers and jailers careers

Correctional officers oversee people who are awaiting trial or who have been sentenced to time in jail or prison. They supervise inmates, aid in rehabilitation and enforce rules that inmates must follow.

This entry-level position is a natural choice for a career in corrections, another popular subfield of criminal justice. A high school diploma is required here, but a bachelor’s degree can open up more lucrative opportunities.

Federal correctional officers can earn significantly more than entry-level officers. Another strong option for career growth potential is a position as prison warden, which earns $68,784 (PayScale).

  • Employees: 47,910
  • Salary: $35,130 ($53,240 nationwide for federal correctional officers)
  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent (federal prisons require a bachelor’s degree)

detective and criminal investigators careers

Detectives and criminal investigators gather information, conduct surveillance and investigate legal, financial and personal matters to perform a particular task. They may work as legal, corporate, financial or computer forensic investigators, among other specialties and work settings.

This advanced law enforcement position is usually attainable with a bachelor’s degree and relevant experience. Further career advancement is still possible here as well; one in five private detectives and investigators are self-employed, and this career as a whole can increase earnings potential.

  • Employees: 16,550
  • Salary: $76,540
  • Education: Bachelor’s degree

At Concordia University Texas, we offer a B.A. in Criminal Justice that’s completely online. You can study when and where you want, and earn your degree while you gain experience as a criminal justice professional.

Find out more at our online criminal justice degree page.

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