Online Criminal Justice Degrees and Careers
The BLS estimates a 4% growth in job opportunities for individuals in the criminal justice field through the year 2024.
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Students interested in an ethics-centered, competency- and evidence-based approach to criminology and conflict-resolution are well-suited to Capella’s online degree in criminal justice. Graduates are prepared for parole, probation, and prison system positions, as well as others within law enforcement and corrections.
Nine master’s in criminal justice concentrations are available, including a general program. The general concentration requires students to complete a credit in foundation courses and 45 credits in core courses. Walden allows students to transfer up to 23 credits. Graduates are prepared for careers as border patrol agents, narcotics officers, pre-trial investigators, and more.
Earning Your Criminal Justice Degree Online
With an increased national focus on law enforcement, immigration, and public safety combined with major advances in distance-learning technology, earning a criminal justice degree online is now more attractive than ever. Online criminal justice degrees are perfect for those who are interested in pursuing a career in the field, but need the flexibility to take classes at their own pace and on their own schedule. For professionals already working in the field and seeking to pursue an advanced degree, enrolling in one of the many criminal justice online schools allows professionals to balance work and school.
Most online criminal justice degrees can be completed almost entirely online, but some institution’s programs require a short internship or shadowing component. Coursework mirrors that of traditional programs, and is taught by the same instructors as the brick-and-mortar school alternatives. Students also take part in discussions in online forums, watch live and recorded lectures, and take exams online. Distance learners can expect classes in topics such as criminology, security and police administration, juvenile justice, and law.
Job Outlook for Criminal Justice Graduates
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates a 4% growth in job opportunities for individuals in this field through the year 2024. However, as the field of criminal justice encompasses many areas (including law enforcement, corrections, the legal system, and criminal investigations), some careers within the field are seeing even higher growth numbers. As national security, border protection, and globalization continue to be frequent topics of discussion and debate, the profession is likely to continue to grow.
This job growth, coupled with increasing interest in the field and a growing need for trained criminal justice professionals, might be a factor in the increased enrollment in degree programs. Last year, Missouri Southern State University reported a 27% increase in enrollment in their criminal justice degree program.
Steven Brancazio. faculty chair for Capella University’s Criminal Justice Undergraduate Studies, believes that advanced degrees in criminal justice are crucial, and will continue to become more common. Policing is changing, he said. It used to be authoritative, reactive, a very strict hierarchy and chain of command. Today, officers are given more authority and are more involved in the community. They need better critical thinking skills. More decision-making responsibility at lower levels means a law enforcement officer needs to know what’s involved.
The bottom line is that a criminal justice degree can improve your prospects in law enforcement, Brancazio said. Education is probably the most powerful weapon any officer carries.
Types of Criminal Justice Careers and Salaries
Criminal justice is a wide and varied field, with concentrations and careers to meet every professional’s area of interest. These areas include law enforcement, forensics, criminology, corrections, and even social work. Each comes with its own specific job functions and payscale.
Forensic Science Technician
No doubt in part due to the rise of popular television shows focused on the field, crime scene investigator positions are on the rise. Professionals in this field gather evidence from crime scenes, and then conduct research in labs and write reports on their findings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that job growth will be high through 2024, increasing by 27% and boasting an average salary of $56,750.
Police officers enforce laws, patrol neighborhoods and assigned areas, and respond to emergency situations. This is a job many people probably think of when hearing criminal justice, and it’s a demanding and stressful position. The median salary for a police officer is $61,600.
Probation officers work with released probationers to ensure they don’t commit new crimes. They set up frequent evaluations to make sure probation violations aren’t occurring, and help probationers find a place of employment. Probation officers make an average of $50,160 every year.
Pretrial Service Officer
Pretrial officers work with defendants from the moment they are booked in jail until they enter the courtroom. They ensure their legal rights are protected and process all of their items and information. This position s average salary is $59,024.
Professionals working in this area of criminal justice focus work in jails or prisons, where they perform a variety of tasks. For example, they supervise inmates and ensure order is kept at all times. A correctional officer’s average salary is $42,820 .
Types of Criminal Justice Degrees
Research shows that police officers and criminal justice professionals perform better on the job with advanced training and degrees. Those who receive their bachelor’s, master’s, and even doctorate enjoy better opportunities for job promotion, and are better equipped to handle the potentially stressful and demanding functions of their profession.
Individuals in criminal justice fields receive a considerable amount of on-the-job training, but additional degrees can work to the professional’s advantage as they advance in their careers, providing them with more expertise in management, human behavior, and criminal justice ethics and policy.