A criminal justice professional will have to work with non-uniformed and uniformed employees of county, city, state, and federal enforcement agencies, defense and prosecuting attorneys, corrections and probation officers, judges, as well as court reporters and paralegals. Based on individual interest, one can opt for a career in juvenile justice, justice administration, or law enforcement.
Most criminal justice professionals gain experience in all three areas. For example, a police officer aspiring to become a supervisor or detective could better their chances by obtaining a justice administration degree.
To be considered for a sheriff, police officer, or detective position one needs to pass out of the police academy, have U.S. citizenship, have a minimum age of 20, and meet personal and physical qualifications. Though a college degree is not essential to become a police officer, some opportunities in special departments mandate either a college degree or one to two years successful study at a college. Many police departments encourage high school graduates with interest in law enforcement to opt for courses in law enforcement or justice administration.
Most law agencies pay part or all of the tuition fees for current police officers taking courses that help them obtain degrees in justice administration or criminal justice, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also says that those with degrees earn more than those without degrees. With a degree, a police officer has better chances of being promoted as detective or allowed to specialize in, say, juvenile justice. An FBI agent must have at least a bachelor's degree as well as three years of experience in the police, or a master's degree with two years experience with the police force. Most other federal workers are required to have at least a bachelor's degree.
You can get an associate's, master's, bachelor's, PhD, a certificate in criminal justice. While a certificate course typically requires a year to complete, an associate's degree takes two years, a bachelor's degree needs four years, and a master's degree and PhD can take between two and five years to acquire. The degree programs give you the option to choose from among justice administration, juvenile justice, and general criminal justice. Whatever program you choose, your focus should be justice, crime, and the legal system.
An online course in criminal justice permits you to retain your current job even as you obtain your degree or certificate. Apart from offering flexible timings, online courses help hone computer skills, improving your career prospects.
Those who are aiming for advanced positions in the field of criminal justice a degree in criminal justice administration is apt. In the criminal justice field the norm is to join at the entry-level and earn your promotions. However, those with a degree in administration have better chances of promotions after gaining experience. Even for those not keen on supervisory roles, a degree in criminal justice administration offers more choices in work profile.
A good justice administration degree course teaches the student to interpret and study laws; investigate evidence; operate computers; gather and analyze data; and enhance their writing skills. Some courses include domestic and international criminology, psychology, sociology, and finance.
You can obtain an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree depending on the time you are willing to spend getting an education and your specific career goals. While an associate's degree takes two years; a bachelor's degree takes four years to obtain. A master's degree needs tow additional years after a bachelor’s degree has been obtained. Sometimes, you will be permitted to transfer credits obtained while studying for a degree to get a higher degree. For example, if after getting an associate's degree, you decide to study for a bachelor's degree, the credits from your associate’s degree can reduce the number of required courses for your bachelor's degree.
By studying for an online justice administration degree, you will have the flexibility to follow your own schedule. This renders it possible for you to enter the police academy or work elsewhere while studying.