What Can You Do with a Master’s in Legal Studies?

Laws govern society, maintain order and help regulate operations. There are laws for business operations, buying and selling property, individual interactions and more. Legal workers are responsible for helping individuals, businesses, government and other entities enforce these laws, interpret them—and otherwise align themselves with the legal system.

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Gain expertise and credibility with Pepperdine’s online Master of Legal Studies, a program for nonlawyers.

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Earn a Master of Legal Studies online and specialize in a specific area of law with a concentration.

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With a workforce of 1.58 million, legal occupations span across various industries. Legal occupations are projected to increase by 5% from 2019 to 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). 

A number of legal occupations require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, while others require an advanced degree. So, what can you do with a master’s in legal studies? Depending on your personal goals and desired job title, earning a master’s in legal studies may help further your career. BLS data on unemployment rates and earnings by educational attainment shows that in 2019, the difference in median annual salary between those with a bachelor’s vs. a master’s degree was more than $12,000. 

Obtaining an online master’s in legal studies can potentially open you up to a variety of legal studies jobs as well as opportunities to further your career. We’ll explore a few career options in this guide.

Conciliator

Conciliators are similar to mediators in that they guide opposing parties toward a mutually acceptable agreement. However, while mediators work with both parties, conciliators meet with each party separately—then make recommendations. Before a conciliator meets with their clients, the clients agree whether they’ll adhere to the recommendations.

A bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum requirement for these positions, but some will require a master’s or law degree. With a master’s in legal studies, you may be eligible for conciliator opportunities—one of the several legal studies jobs you can explore. 

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for conciliators in 2019 was $63,930. Along with arbitrator and mediator jobs, conciliator positions are projected to grow 8% from 2019 to 2029.

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers are among the potential master’s in legal studies jobs you might choose to pursue. Businesses and corporations aim to abide by all laws regarding how they treat employees and operate. Human resources managers strategize and maintain an organization’s administrative functions. They are in charge of an organization’s workforce, overseeing employee benefit programs, consulting with managers on human resources issues like sexual harassment and equal employment opportunity, as well as handling staff issues.

HR manager positions typically only require a bachelor’s degree in human resources or a related field. Some positions, however, do require a master’s degree. If you have an interest in the legal aspect of human resources, then earning a master’s in legal studies may be worthwhile. With programs offering employment law and HR concentrations, students learn about the regulatory framework that impacts recruitment, hiring, promotion and other functions of human resources. 

According to the BLS, the median annual wage for human resources managers was $116,720 in 2019. The job outlook for these HR manager positions is expected to grow 6% between 2019 and 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

Law Librarian

Legal librarians help people find the information they need to conduct research. They conduct legal research and help law students, clerks, lawyers and judges find and analyze legal resources. They might work in law school libraries or law firms.

Becoming a law librarian is another one of the master’s in legal studies jobs you might consider as you plan your legal career. Most library positions require more than a bachelor’s—and a specialized degree or MLS may help you gain the necessary legal acumen to assist professionals who need access to legal information. 

According to the BLS, librarians earned a median annual salary of $59,500 in 2019. The top 10% made more than $94,520. Employment of librarians and library media specialists is projected to grow 5% over the next decade, resulting in an additional 7,300 jobs.

Chief Executive

Chief executives create strategies and policies to help organizations achieve goals and manage activities related to providing services or making products. They might be involved in negotiating contracts, appointing managers and department heads and determining ways to improve programs and performance. 

Becoming a chief executive may require a mix of education, professional experience, industry expertise and even knowledge of law and government. Depending on the industry you find yourself working in, a certain aspect of the legal system like legal codes or executive orders may be more relevant to you than others—and the course content in an MLS program might allow you to develop an understanding for it. Most chief executives have a graduate degree or higher, according to O*NET OnLine, an online occupational database sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Earning potential and employment outlook varies for jobs for legal studies graduates. The median annual wage for chief executives was $184,460 in May 2019, according to BLS pay data. Despite above-average salary estimates, employment of chief executives is expected to decline 10% over the next decade due to improvements to office and technology and changing organizational structures.

Medical and Health Services Manager

Still asking yourself, “What can you do with a master’s in legal studies?” You may want to put your legal learnings to use within the health care field. 

Medical and health services managers—also known as health care administrators or health care executives—plan, direct and coordinate health and medical services. They may work in doctors’ offices, hospitals and outpatient facilities. An MLS degree, particularly those with health care compliance or health care law as a concentration, may be helpful in this profession since medical and health services managers often need to understand and adapt to regulatory compliance and health care laws.

According to the BLS, the median pay for medical and health services managers was $100,980 in May 2019. Medical and health services manager jobs are expected to grow by 32% between 2019 and 2029, which is about eight times faster than the average job growth rate for all occupations.

Climate Change Policy Analyst

Climate change policy analysts are dedicated to protecting the environment through researching and analyzing climate change policies. They help raise awareness and may contribute to legislation for environmental protection. 

Obtaining a graduate degree, like the MLS, may be helpful if you choose to pursue this master’s in legal studies job. Some climate change policy analyst positions even require more advanced degrees, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. 

According to the BLS, professionals within the environmental science field earn a median annual salary of $71,360. In 2019, the highest 10% of these workers earned more than $124,760. Over the next decade, the BLS projects that employment of environmental scientists and specialists will grow 8%.

Compliance Officer

Compliance officers evaluate whether or not an individual or organization is abiding by the laws and regulations outlined in a contract, such as licenses or permits. They may be responsible for contacting violators to let them know they’re in violation, and—in the case of non-compliance— reporting violators to another entity, such as a board.

While this is one of the potential jobs for legal studies graduates, it doesn’t always require an MLS. A minimum of an undergraduate degree is commonly accepted, but an MLS may help advance your career.

According to O*NET OnLine, compliance officer jobs are expected to grow between 5% and 7% over the next decade. While compliance officer salaries vary from position to position, the BLS reported that the annual median wage for compliance officers was $69,050 in May 2019.

Court Reporter

Court reporters are responsible for documenting everything said during trials, depositions and other legal proceedings—word-for-word. 

Like some other legal studies jobs, becoming a court reporter usually requires applicants to have an associate degree. However, pursuing an advanced degree, such as an MLS, may benefit you. The MLS provides both general and specialized knowledge of the U.S. legal system, allowing you to better understand the scope of your work and pursue related legal positions down the line.

The median annual wage for court reporters and simultaneous captioners was $60,130 in 2019, according to the BLS. Court reporter jobs are projected to grow 9% by 2029, and those seeking these positions may be tasked with captioning outside legal proceedings.

Probation Officer

Probation officers provide social services to help rehabilitate law offenders and prepare them to re-enter society. From interviewing probationers and parolees to maintaining case files on offenders, probation officers perform a range of duties.

Bachelor’s degrees are typically required in order to become a probation officer, but specific job requirements may vary by jurisdiction so it’s important to check the desired qualifications for the position you’re applying to. With specializations in criminal law, a Master of Legal Studies program may allow an aspiring probation officer to gain relevant knowledge and skills for the job.

Salary for legal studies jobs vary widely based on factors like geographic location and industry. According to  BLS pay data, the median salary for probation officers was $54,290 in 2019. The highest 10% of probation officers earned more than $94,860. Employment of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists is projected to grow 4% from 2019 to 2029—that’s as fast as the average for all occupations.

Private Detectives and Investigators

Private detectives and investigators are responsible for gathering and reporting information to clients regarding any infractions of rules and regulations determined by the client in some kind of contract or agreement. 

There’s no clear-cut path to becoming a private detective or investigator. Some jobs require a minimum of a high school diploma, while others require an undergraduate degree in criminal justice or a related field. Even so, the private detective position may be one of the potential jobs for legal studies graduates—particularly those with an interest in criminal justice and a desire to work independently.

The BLS reports that in 2019, the median annual wage for private detectives and investigators was $50,510. By 2029, there will be 3,000 new private detective and investigator jobs, accounting for an 8% growth rate.

Employee Relations Specialist

As an MLS graduate, employee relations specialist may be one of the legal studies jobs to consider. Employee relations or labor relation specialists are in charge of interpreting and communicating the terms of labor contracts, such as wages, health care, pensions and union and management operations. 

The minimum education and experience levels for this occupation vary based on the employer and position. A bachelor’s degree is typically required. But if you’re interested in working on contract negotiations or in labor law, an MLS program may help prepare you for that. 

Labor relation specialists had a median annual wage of $69,020 in 2019, according to the BLS.

Sales Manager

Among jobs for legal studies graduates is the role of sales manager. People in this position are responsible for directing and organizing sales teams while ensuring that representatives are efficient and productive.

To become a sales manager, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree—though some positions may only require a high school diploma. Having an MLS however, might help you negotiate higher pay. Courses from an MLS program may cover business law, economics and financial compliance, which might be helpful for this kind of work. 

As of 2019, the BLS reports that the median annual salary for sales managers is $126,640. Despite an increase in online shopping, employment of sales managers is expected to grow 4% over the next decade.

Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teacher

Criminal justice and law enforcement teachers focus on curriculum surrounding criminal justice, corrections and law enforcement administration. These master’s in legal studies jobs are commonly found at postsecondary institutions. 

A minimum of a graduate degree is typically required for this criminal justice and law enforcement teacher positions. Extensive knowledge and experience within the legal landscape may help you as you pursue this job—and obtaining an MLS is one possible way to bolster your knowledge and enhance your qualifications. You may even enroll in a program with a criminal justice concentration. 

The median annual wage for individuals working as criminal justice and law enforcement teachers was $62,860, according to 2019 employment estimates from O*NET OnLine. The same data shows that jobs within this field are projected to grow between 5% and 7% from 2019 to 2029.

Fraud Examiners, Investigators and Analysts

Fraud examiners, investigators and analysts collect evidence, take statements and testify regarding fraud allegations. They may also work to organize fraud detection and prevention methods. 

Most fraud examiner positions require a bachelor’s degree and a significant amount of experience. Having a master’s in legal studies can potentially help you obtain more advanced legal studies jobs in this realm and understand the complex finance-related issues the job presents. 

The median annual wage for fraud examiners in 2019 was $81,590, according to O*NET OnLine. The online occupational database also notes that fraud examiners jobs are projected to grow by 5% to 7% between 2019 and 2029.

Real Estate Broker

Real estate brokers help their clients buy, sell and rent properties and are licensed to manage their own businesses, whereas agents often have to work with real estate brokers.

In order to become a real estate broker, you’ll need to take some real estate courses and pass a licensing exam. If you’ve taken college-level real estate classes, additional courses and the exam may be waived.

The BLS notes that employers are more frequently hiring people with college degrees as the field grows more and more crowded. With a 3% projected job growth rate from 2019 to 2029, this role will remain in demand as people look for new homes and seek to purchase properties for business. The median annual salary for real estate brokers in 2019 was $59,720. Of course, salary varies based on factors including location, employer and more. 

Just as there are a variety of legal studies jobs to choose to consider, there are legal studies courses and related law programs that cover real estate topics, helping to prepare you for positions in this field.

Legislator

Legislators or lawmakers are elected officials responsible for developing, introducing and putting laws into place at the local, state, and federal levels. 

Most entry-level legislator positions require a bachelor’s degree and some level of experience. Depending on the state where you’re running for office, there may be additional requirements. Although a master’s in legal studies isn’t required, the legal knowledge acquired from the program may prove useful on the job. 

When deciding which of the jobs for legal studies graduates is best for you, you may start off by comparing earning potential. Legislators earned a median annual salary of $29,270 in May 2019, according to the BLS. While that figure is below the average for all occupations, employment for legislators over the next decade is expected to be faster than the average, with a 6% growth rate.

Tax Examiner or Collector

Tax examiners  is another career option for those interested in legal studies jobs. These professionals gather information and determine how much money is owed in taxes by an individual or business. Then, they collect these taxes for the government.

Most of tax examiner positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, but that varies by employer and the exact position. You may decide to earn a master’s in legal studies before becoming a tax examiner, in order to learn about state and local taxation laws, business organization laws and other relevant topics. 

In 2019, the annual median salary for tax examiners and collectors was $54,890, as reported by the BLS.

FAQs on Legal Studies Jobs

There are a variety of master’s in legal studies jobs available that require certain levels of education and involve different aspects of the law. Before choosing a path, it’s important to determine what kind of legal work best suits your passions and skills. Once you make a decision, it’s just a matter of getting there. 

What jobs are open for master’s in legal studies graduates?

Having a master’s in legal studies may help to open up a wide range of career opportunities. With an MLS, you may qualify for positions such as conciliators, law librarians, chief executives, climate change policy analysts and more. Check to see the complete list of what you can do with master’s in legal studies we have compiled. 

Which industries can you work in with a master’s in legal studies?

There’s no clear-cut path to figuring out what to do with a master’s in legal studies. With the broad selection of law degree specializations available, graduates can work in different industries that interest them and require legal knowledge, including—but not limited to—compliance, law enforcement, human resources and more. 

When it comes to figuring out what you can do with a master’s in legal studies, the opportunities are wide-ranging. Graduates have many career options available to them and our list doesn’t include them all. You can find out how to become a paralegal. If you have a specialization in mind, you may want to consider careers in dispute resolution or jobs in tax law.

Sponsored Online MLS and Law Programs

Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

Sharpen the legal skills you need to make effective decisions. Earn a Master of Legal Studies online at American University.

Sponsored Online MLS Program

Online MSL in Corporate Compliance

Earn your master’s in compliance online from Fordham Law and explore how compliance law directly impacts your organization.

Sponsored Online Law Program

Master of Legal Studies program

Gain expertise and credibility with Pepperdine’s online Master of Legal Studies, a program for nonlawyers.

Sponsored Online MLS Program

Master of Legal Studies (MLS)

Earn a Master of Legal Studies online and specialize in a specific area of law with a concentration.

Sponsored Online MLS Program