Criminal Justice Education and Job Information
Criminal justice is the all-encompassing term for how society responds to criminal or unwanted activities and behaviors. From policing to the court system, incarceration to rehabilitation, careers in this field play an integral role in the health of our society. Job prospects are said to be excellent, but education is an imperative first step.
The sciences of investigation and enforcement, and the psychology of criminals and their victims form the backbone of your studies. From crime scene investigation and victim advocacy to interview techniques and loss prevention, you will learn what causes crime, and how to prevent it. You will also learn about laws governing our society (and how they are enforced), incarceration and parole, and even threats to national security, and how to react to them.
In the traditional areas, entry-level careers include security guard, corrections officer, loss-prevention officer, private investigator, and others. Additional areas you may not have considered include fish and game wardens, and transit authority. Upon graduation, you may also be prepared to enter police academies for jobs with local law enforcement agencies. In the field of rehabilitation, positions exist for youth counselors and social workers. If you enjoy working with technology, consider computer forensics and security. In the court system, there is a need for court reporters. To learn more, read our detailed article, What Can You Do With a Criminal Justice Degree?.
According to information collected in 2014, the median annual pay of private investigators and detectives was $44,570. The highest earners made over $85,560. For probation officers and correctional treatment workers, the median was $49,060. And police officers earned median pay of $56,810.* However, wages vary drastically depending on geography, experience, and the specific industry of employment.
Diploma and associate's degrees usually require two years of full-time study, while bachelor's degrees are usually four years.
Certification and Licensure
In all likelihood, you will be required to obtain some form of certificate, license, or both. However, regulations vary greatly depending on the state in which you intend to work, so it is best to consult local policies. Licensure or certification may include relevant education, a passing grade on a written exam, a minimum level of experience, and a criminal background check.
Heightened national and personal security concerns are fueling demand in law enforcement and justice. Also, as technology continues to push boundaries, computer forensics is seen as a growth area, as we attempt to protect personal information that is increasingly being stored on computers and networks. In corrections, many states are dealing with budget restraints, forcing a review of prison costs and mandatory sentencing requirements. That has led to a focus on prevention, rehabilitation, and parole, putting counselors and probation officers in demand.
Distance learning options are available in the criminal justice field. Your best bet for finding an online program is to use our convenient search tool, below.
Criminal behavior is a fact of life, and society will always require qualified, resolute individuals who can react quickly to curb that conduct. So, if you're looking for an education that prepares you to become a contributing member of society, a career in this field may be just right.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, website accessed on March 17, 2016.