Top Five Criminal Justice Careers for Job Openings

In an earlier blog wrote this year, we discussed some of the fastest growing criminal justice careers. These employment growth % percentages come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)’ most recent projections, released in December 2013.

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While these percentages are significant when conducting career research for personal or professional reasons, they are not the only data to consider. “Employment growth is not the only source of job openings,” stated the BLS in a December 19, 2013 press release (“Employment Projections: 2012-2022 Summary”). “BLS also projects job openings resulting from the need to replace workers who retire or otherwise permanently leave an occupation.”

The BLS press release added that it is expected there will be job openings in every occupation because of replacement needs and that over two thirds of job openings in the U.S. are projected to arise for this reason.

Job Openings

The BLS has calculated the number of estimated job openings for the 2012 to 2022 period for 580 detailed occupations. Job openings come from both employment growth and the need to replace employees that leave that occupation.

To get some further insight into this, we chatted with Dalton Terrell, Economist with the BLS, via e-mail. “The growth component is merely the difference between projected 2022 employment and 2012 employment for the occupation,” he explains, regarding the % growth figures you may be accustomed to seeing.

Regarding replacement needs, Terrell says: “The replacement component attempts to count the number of people who leave an occupation permanently within the decade and need to be replaced. For instance, if a sheriff’s deputy was laid off and found a job as a police officer, our method of calculating replacement needs would not count this. If that officer then became a supervisor and someone else filled his old role, this would be a replacement need.”

Terrell adds, regarding the total number of job openings during the decade 2012-2022 due to both growth and replacement needs, “The figure is attempting to describe opportunities for new entries into an occupation, not necessarily openings from individual employers.”

One way to look at job openings is considering the number of individuals entering that occupation for the first time.

Criminal Justice Careers with Most Job Openings

Okay we’ve left you in suspense long enough! As follows are five of the top criminal justice careers in terms of projected job openings (due to growth and replacement needs) from 2012 to 2022. (The job opening data is based on the data found in BLS’ Table 1.2 Employment by detailed occupation, 2012 and projected 2022):

Security Guards

294,200 job openings (2012-2022)

$23,970 annual median salary (May 2012)

Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers

243,900 job openings (2012-2022)

$55,270 annual median salary (May 2012)


196,500 job openings (2012-2022)

$113,530 annual median salary (May 2012)

Correctional Officers and Jailers

142,400 job openings (2012-2022)

$39,040 annual median salary (May 2012)

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

91,200 job openings (2012-2022)

$46,990 annual median salary (May 2012)

Honorable mentions (for occupations that will have at least 23,000+ job openings projected between 2012 and 2022) include information security analysts, first-line supervisors of police & detectives, detectives & criminal investigators and probation officers & correctional treatment specialists.

The BLS’s Occupational Outlook Handbook is an excellent resource for researching key information on occupations including employment and salary projections, educational requirements, career descriptions and more:

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