Criminal Justice Degree – Deciding On Jobs And Programs

You can earn a criminal justice degree within two to four years. Your choice of a criminal justice degree program will largely be determined by factors such as cost, schedule and how soon you want to start working.

Shortest route

The fastest is by way of an associate degree that can be completed in two years or even less, through distance learning. Many law enforcement agencies, especially at the state and federal levels, now require college credits from its applicants and this will be handy to boost your chances of being accepted.

An associate degree will give you an overview of the criminal justice system, particularly the 3 Cs: cops, courts, corrections. Knowledge about these areas will prepare you for entry-level work in this field. You should also determine what specific area in criminal justice you wish to concentrate on to get more definitive training.

Police officers do not necessarily require a criminal justice degree to be qualified for the job. But they will eventually need criminal justice education to advance.

You can benefit from a criminal justice associate degree with other entry-level positions in this field, such as crime investigators, court clerks, forensic technicians or corrections officer.

More intensive studies

Earning a criminal justice bachelor degree will make you more qualified for your chosen career. This is especially good for federal law enforcement workers such as agents of the FBI, CIA, DEA or the Secret Service, who handle cases that are sensitive in nature.

Likewise, those who wish to specialize in forensic science are better equipped with a bachelor degree. However, your competence at the job will also be based on the quality of hands-on training you received and not just your criminal justice degree.

Bachelor degrees are usually completed in four years. But those who have associate degrees can credit their previous courses and earn this in less time.

Boosting your criminal justice career

People already enjoying rewarding careers in criminal justice eventually aspire for leadership, management or administrative positions. A master degree will prepare them to understand all aspects of criminal justice from the viewpoint of a manager or administrator. They will learn the skills for formulating policy directions to better implement the law and ensure the peace and order within a community.

There are criminal justice master degree programs for justice leadership, justice administration and justice management.

Criminal justice careers in the private sector also benefit from specializations, particularly in the area of security, loss prevention, fraud and cyber crimes. Some colleges and universities have developed specialized training courses for these.

You may also wish to go into teaching or training, for which a master or PhD degree will qualify you for such criminal justice job opportunities.

Most, if not all, criminal justice degree programs are also available online. Distance learning has made it more convenient to pursue further studies, or to allow the completion of more formal education not just in criminal justice but in most disciplines.

The list grows longer the more specific each area of criminal justice becomes. But a criminal justice degree is a good start for building a rewarding career.