5 Careers in Criminal Justice That Don’t Require a Bachelor’s Degree

Many people have dreamed of becoming a lawyer at some point in their lives. Becoming a lawyer is such an interesting and idealistic prospect—the concept of defending people who can’t defend themselves is a noble dream to have, especially for many of us who desire a just and fair society.

Unfortunately, not everyone who has dreamed of being a lawyer has been given the privilege of going to law school, let alone obtaining a bachelor’s degree. But just because you weren’t able to become a lawyer, it doesn’t mean you can no longer be part of our criminal justice system. 

If you have a passion for criminal justice, a desire to help victims find restitution, and helping lawbreakers get their lives back together—but don’t have the degrees necessary to become a lawyer, here are some other criminal justice careers that don’t require a degree:


While the educational requirements and licensing for paralegals vary from state to state and firm to firm, paralegals are only generally required to have an associate degree, which usually can be finished in two years. Here are some tasks of paralegals:

  • They help attorneys and lawyers in organizing and preparing a wide array of legal files and documents for upcoming trials and cases
  • They prepare correspondence, affidavits, and are neck-deep in details regarding cases and the various files for all kinds of legal proceedings

Paralegals are not lawyers, but they work closely with them and thus, play a big part in helping victims find justice and clients get the best possible deal for their cases. If you can’t be a lawyer, then being a paralegal just might be the next best thing to help you achieve your dream.

Bail Bondsman

Another career in restorative justice that does not necessarily require a bachelor’s degree is a bail agent or bondsman. They are tasked with the following:

  • Helping clients make bail
  • Earning the funds back by collecting a fee from the defendant once they are bailed out

In general, bail bondsmen or agents only need a high school diploma to do this job, but you can opt to finish a degree in business or related courses later if you want to be more effective at it. Becoming a bail agent can also be a noble task because you’re helping lawbreakers get their lives back on track, and helping falsely accused ones stay home while they work with their attorneys to prove their innocence. 

Criminal Investigators and Detectives

You might find it hard to believe, but detectives and criminal investigators are generally not required to have a bachelor’s degree. Since they rise from the ranks of a police officer (which also does not entail a bachelor’s diploma), and it’s not an entry-level career, then theoretically, it’s possible to move up to this position without having to earn a bachelor’s degree—just a minimum of two years as a police officer would do the trick. Detectives and criminal investigators are responsible for handling complex cases that patrol officers do not have the training and resources to investigate.

Police Officer

As previously mentioned, the job of a police officer does not typically require a bachelor’s degree, although there are plenty of other requirements like age and work experience. People immediately find work as a police officer if they have an impressive CV detailing their past employment experiences, excellent performance in high school, and military service. And yes, the job does not typically require a college degree, but training in a police academy can be incredibly grueling.

Police Dispatcher

Police dispatchers are some least lauded people in our law enforcement system, and yet they are an indispensable and key part of making sure that our first response systems are well-oiled and running as smoothly as possible. They are usually the first point of contact between people who need help and the authorities who need to respond.

Often, a high school diploma is all that’s needed for people to become dispatchers, but applicants will also have a leg up if they have an excellent track record of public contract work. Since public dispatchers have to deal with a host of citizens that are often scared, distressed, angry, or some combination of the three, dispatchers need to have the best kind of training possible, so they can become an effective lifeline to both the citizen and the authorities who will respond to the call.

A bachelor’s degree is not the end-all and be-all of being part of the justice system. Find your passion and work towards it, and you may have the building blocks for success in this sector of society.

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