If you are passionate about public service and justice, you should consider a degree in criminal justice. Completing this degree helps passionate individuals become knowledgeable and competent professionals to serve in various positions within the community. A degree in criminal justice offers an opening to a wide array of career paths and degree concentrations. Most graduates enjoy a positive job outlook based on the current data guides[i]. This is why criminal justice segrees are becoming so popular. Learn more below!
Benefits of a Criminal Justice Degree
Amongst many other interesting advantages, a degree in criminal justice offers the following benefits
– New skills – a degree in criminal justice enable graduates to verify and quantify various skills set. Certificates gained from these programs impart students with research, reporting, writing, and presentation skills.
– Vast career opportunities – the criminal justice system makes this course versatile, with several careers in law enforcement, courts, and correction centers.
– Promotions – a degree in criminal justice is a recipe for a high-level position. Police officers, for instance, can use this degree to qualify as Sheriffs or forensic investigators.
– Continuing education – students seeking to advance their education levels can also consider a degree in criminal justice.
Criminal Justice Degree Classes
Interested learners can take up criminal justice at different levels, ranging from certificate levels to doctorate[ii]. They include;
Criminal justice certificate
Certificates for criminal justice vary in duration and focus of study. However, most of them require students to complete 5 courses, which takes less than one year. Having a certificate meets mostly entry-level employment positions.
Associate degree in criminal justice
This degree helps graduates understand the basics of criminal justice academically and as a system. The program includes between 60 and 90 credits, which can take two years to complete. Graduates can work as police officers, bailiffs, and paralegals.
Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice
State Universities also enroll students with high-school diplomas to their bachelor’s programs. Before admission, students should either earn or transfer between 60 and 90 credits. The program takes at most two years to complete. Graduates can work as forensic accountants or secret service agents.
Master’s degree in criminal justice
The degree entails 60 credits and a thesis or capstone project. Like other degree courses, it takes two years. Depending on the individual specialization, graduates can work as air marshals, counselors, or forensic anthropologists.
Doctorate in criminal justice
Probably the highest degree, graduating with a doctorate, entails 50-75 credits and takes 3-7 years. Program length heavily relies on the student’s ability, motivation, and availability.
Job Opportunities and Salaries for Graduates
As mentioned just above, graduates in criminal justice can fit various job opportunities. This also depends on the individual’s specialization[iii]. Below are some criminal justice careers.
Requirement: Bachelor’s degree with several years of experience
Salary: $44,400 per year
Corrections managers are tasked with supervising employees at correctional facilities or prisons. This role requires one to work closely with supporting staff as they deal directly with inmates. They should ensure that the safety and frontline security of inmates and staff are kept in check.
Crime Scene Investigator
Requirements: Bachelor’s degree
Salary: $46,053 per year
As the name suggests, crime scene investigators assist the police in gathering and analyzing crime scenes.
Requirements: Bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience
Salary: $64,629 per year
FBI agents are probably the epitome of criminal justice jobs. They are tasked with investigating federal offenses, cybercrime, terrorism, and organized crime within the U.S and oversees.
Requirements: Bachelor’s degree and a certified public accountant
Salary: $70,500 per year
They are financial detectives who sift through personal or company account records to gather evidence of potential wrongdoing. They help in proving cases such as bankruptcies, insurance claims, and fraud.
Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s in psychology
Salary: $79,000 per year
Forensic psychologists are based in the court as they make evaluations used by the courts in making various rulings. For instance, they make assessments on a criminal’s mental ability to stand trial or potential for committing other crimes if released.
Graduating with a criminal justice degree can also land you in paralegal jobs, as an information security officer, forensic DNA analyst, probation officer, and much more[iv].
The Bottom Line
Evidently, a degree in criminal justice can push your career in unlimited directions. Knowledge in the criminal justice system opens up opportunities in legal systems, corrections, and law enforcement. However, before settling for a specialized career path, explore the specific job responsibilities, earning potential, and basic educational requirements. Doing this will help you find a good career with a criminal justice degree.
[i] “Criminal Justice And Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary”. 2020. Bls.Gov. https://www.bls.gov/oes/2018/may/oes251111.htm
[ii] “What Types Of Criminal Justice Majors Are There? – Criminal Justice Degree Hub”. 2020. Criminal Justice Degree Hub. https://www.criminaljusticedegreehub.com/types-of-criminal-justice-majors/
[iii] “Bachelor’s Degree, Criminal Justice Salary | Payscale”. 2020. Payscale.Com. https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Bachelor%27s_Degree%2C_Criminal_Justice/Salary
[iv] Staff, TBS. 2020. “The Best Criminal Justice Careers 2020”. Thebestschools.Org. https://thebestschools.org/careers/criminal-justice-jobs/