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Careers in criminology and criminal justice


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female criminology and criminal justice student

In a time where our criminal justice system is constantly adapting and evolving, careers in criminology and criminal justice are more important than ever. However, criminology and criminal justice can look very different depending on how you look at them, which can make it difficult to navigate what path you want to take when you begin studying.

When there’s so much crossover between the two fields, it’s helpful for you to be able to decide what you want out of your career. This guide will help you define the difference between criminology and criminal justice and introduce you to the variety of career paths available.


Criminology focuses on the scientific, theoretical and psychological aspects of crime and criminal behaviour. Criminologists have a deep understanding of human behaviour and the economic and social issues that influence people. Criminologists focus on the how, why, when and where of crimes and help first responders prevent and respond to crime.

Criminal justice

Criminal justice is the application of criminology. Whereas criminologists study the science and psychology of criminals and crimes, criminal justice workers enforce solutions and are more directly involved with active crimes and investigations themselves. Careers in criminal justice play a direct role in the implementation and enforcement of the law.

Criminology vs criminal justice

Though criminal justice and criminology are two distinct fields, they share the same basic purpose: prevent and address crime. While criminology focuses on the study of crime, criminal justice looks at our response to crime.

By applying criminology concepts to real-life criminal justice polices and practices, we can address crime at its roots. So, while these fields have obvious differences, the aim is that they work together in the real world.

Modern research into criminal justice has revealed the different biases and issues within the criminal justice system. Criminologists are essential to rooting out these problems to create a more equal and accurate framework for crime prevention.

Careers in criminology and criminal justice

Careers in criminal justice and criminology span across crime prevention, law enforcement, court proceedings, rehabilitation and intelligence. Criminologists and criminal justice workers both have the same goal wherever they end up: improve crime fighting operations through innovative programs and policies.

Community services

Community services are essential for preventing crime and minimising harm by supporting vulnerable people. Key areas include community-based initiatives and organisations, social services, community health programs and mental health services. If your community is properly supported, then the risk of crime decreases. With the job growth for community workers expected to rise by a massive 23.1 per cent in the next five years, there is plenty of room for you to make your mark on the industry.

Roles include:

  • Victim support officer
  • Youth and family worker
  • Mental health worker
  • Youth support officer.

Law enforcement

Law enforcement is the face of the criminal justice system, the most obvious example being our police departments. Proper execution of law enforcement is continuously criticised and debated. However, their primary purpose is to prevent and stop crime when it happens, and it’s expected our need for properly educated officers will continue to increase, making it an incredibly viable career.

Roles include:

  • Police officer
  • Border officer
  • Protective security officer
  • Security investigator.

Intelligence and investigation

If you’re interested in investigating criminal activity and organisations, there are a world of opportunities out there for you. These roles require you to have a criminologist’s deep understanding of psychology and you’ll work closely with law enforcement to inform their crime prevention strategies. Fresh perspectives will be of great value to this rapidly evolving field, which expects a 4.9 per cent increase for intelligence analysts in the next five years.

Roles include:

  • Intelligence analyst
  • Intelligence officer
  • Investigator.

Courts and tribunals

Careers in criminal justice also have a place beyond the frontlines, solving complex problems for clients and helping them through difficult times. Secure a role at the heart of the criminal justice system by working as a court registrar at a magistrate’s court, summary crime court or assessment and referral court. Case managers in particular will be in demand in the coming years, and will see a 17.7 per cent increase.

Roles include:

  • Case manager
  • Court support services case manager
  • Family violence practitioner
  • Trainee court registrar.

Prisons and community corrections

Prisons, community corrections or government agencies play an essential role in rehabilitating offenders and will be in high demand, with the need for new experts in this field is predicted to increase. A role like this requires high-level interpersonal skills, empathy, communication skills, confidence and leadership skills. It’s an ideal job for anyone interested helping offenders learn from their mistakes.

Roles include:

  • Case officer
  • Correctional officer
  • Field officer
  • Prison officer
  • Intake and assessment worker.

Parole, probation and rehabilitation

With a background in criminology and criminal justice, you could thrive in a role within the parole, probation and rehabilitation sectors. These roles are essential in the criminal justice system and will continue to grow by a massive 17.7 per cent. You will play a pivotal role in setting people on the right path, and ensuring the community is kept safe.

Roles include:

  • Parole officer
  • Parole and specialist case manager
  • Probation services officer
  • Specialist case worker.

Careers in criminology and criminal justice come in a variety of different specialisations. Our Bachelor of Criminal Justice and Criminology aims to help you discover your place in the Australian legal system by allowing you to discover your different strengths and interests through a broad curriculum.

If you’d like to learn more about how a degree in criminal justice and criminology can benefit your career aspirations, our dedicated Course Consultants are ready to help on 1300 069 765.