Criminal Justice Degrees
Criminal justice starts with the law enforcement officers who solve crimes. It ends with justice being serviced in our court systems. Police officers, criminal investigators, attorneys, and judges all play a role in identifying, apprehending, judging, and punishing criminals. A Criminal Justice degree can lead to a career in many different fields of work, from a police officer to a forensic scientist. While studying for a Criminal Justice degree, you will be introduced to all aspects of the criminal justice system which would include the study of:
- Law enforcement practices
- Criminal law and police science
- Social and psychological factors relating to crime
- Rules for handling evidence
- Investigation and forensics
An associate’s degree in criminal justice will prepare you to work in an entry-level position in law enforcement, corrections, paralegal, court reporting, or private security. This two year program will teach you the basics of the criminal justice system such as political science, forensic science, legal studies, psychology and sociology. The credits you earn with your associates degree can often be applied toward a future bachelor’s degree if you wish to further your education.
A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is a four year program, and will provide further training and education in any of the programs offered at the associate’s level. There are more job opportunities as a social worker, probation officer, and correctional treatment specialist, among others. Many federal and private agencies require job applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.
Earning a master’s degree in criminal justice can help advance your career, and usually requires two more years of study, after the completion of your bachelor degree. You can qualify for a position as a FBI agent, police chief, college instructor, and other supervisory positions in law enforcement.
There are also criminal justice certificate programs available for those who want to take specific courses to gain a general understanding of the criminal justice system. These usually require at least one year of study, but vary according to the program.
Job Opportunities for Criminal Justice Degrees
Employment in the criminal justice field, specifically among police and detectives, will grow 10 percent from 2008-2018. This demand comes mainly from population growth, and the ongoing need to serve and protect our society.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 Edition