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Schools for Criminal Justice Courses

A criminal justice degree can offer many opportunities within the industry, and professionals are involved with security of their respective departments. Criminal justice careers branch out into a variety of divisions. Criminal justice professionals work in the areas of law enforcement, homeland security, research, psychology, and law compliance. They may be employed at both a local and national level.

Criminal Justice Career Description and Responsibilities

Graduates of criminal justice programs are expected to:

  • Communicate with the public
  • Offer services in surveillance
  • Maintain public and national security
  • Ensure compliance of laws and regulations
  • Provide services to a variety of industries and fields
  • Work with investigative firms and adhere to reporting guidelines
  • Address issues related to public welfare
  • Be trustworthy and look for ways to solve problems
  • Be socially conscious and interested in public affairs

Career Options After Completing a Criminal Justice Degree:

Students can choose to work as:

  • Uniformed and state police officers

  • County sheriffs or deputies

  • Detectives, investigative officers, and private investigators

  • Crime scene investigators

  • Federal Government employees, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

  • U.S. marshals and deputy marshals

  • U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service agents

  • U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents

  • Special agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms

  • Customs inspectors

  • Probation officers

  • Compliance and corrections officers

  • Forensic psychology and sciences

  • CIA agents

  • Criminologists

  • Court clerks or reporters

Criminal Justice Courses, Degrees, and Certification

Prospective criminal justice program students can obtain a degree in a variety of ways. Both an Associate's degree program and Bachelor's degree are available. As an alternative to an on-site education, a criminal justice online degree program can offer additional training and options.

An Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice can provide a solid foundation in law enforcement. Courses in this program may focus on corrections, court law, and liberal arts. A Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice can offer a more comprehensive educational program, incorporating specialized skills in research and analysis. Courses in this program may emphasize law enforcement, parole, probation, and juvenile justice.

An Associate of Arts or Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice is another option. Courses in this educational path may include current criminal justice issues, courts and correctional institution study, juvenile counseling, investigation theory, and law enforcement operations. These programs can lead to criminal justice careers as probation officers, loss prevention, and private investigation agencies at the national level. Associate degree programs are generally two years in length.

A criminal justice program may also focus on a specialized field. Degree programs can range from a Masters in Public Administration and Emergency Response Policy, to a Masters of Public Administration in Public Safety Management. Bachelor's and Master's degree programs can range from 4-6 years in length.

Criminal justice certification is another option for students who wish to pursue a specialized course of study. A school may offer a Crime Scene Technician Certificate, Certificate in Terrorism and National Security Management, or a Certificate in Criminal Justice. Transfer of credits towards a degree is another option, and these are one year in length.

Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs

Online degree programs offer students a chance to receive an education from a distance. Instructors can make use of advanced technology and specialized techniques to educate students. Online degree programs can be flexible to accommodate different schedules. Associate and Bachelor's degree in criminal justice programs are available in a variety of fields. Common online degree programs include:
  • Law Enforcement

  • Crime Scene

  • Economic Crime

  • Forensics

  • Legal Studies

  • Paralegal or Legal Assistance

  • Security & Loss Prevention

Criminal Justice Programs Accreditation

The majority of criminal justice schools are accredited by the regional Commission on Higher Education. Online programs are accredited by the representative university.

Earning Potential and Employment Prospects

An increased population in prisons and probation institutions makes a criminal justice career a strong employment prospect. The demand for graduates is steadily increasing, and criminal justice career options are available at the state, federal, and local government levels. The most common career paths include law enforcement, investigations, security, court, law, forensic science, and public safety. Earnings vary by skill level, experience, and division. In 2004, the average annual earnings for a criminal justice lawyer were between $61,060 and $136,810, while a police captain earned $70,177. Federal laws regulate the salaries of Federal employees who are involved in law enforcement. Related occupations include:

  • DEA Agents

  • Paralegals

  • Coast Guards

  • ATF Agents

  • Police Detectives

  • Secret Services

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