Is a Criminal Justice Degree Right for You?
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Students who pursue criminal justice degrees will learn about law, court systems, and the effects that society and relationships have on humans and the way they behave. Criminal justice students research and study the foundations of law enforcement, public safety, the legal system, the behavior of criminals and social work. As the need for public safety and corrections continue to grow, so will the demand for trained individuals working in this field. It is important for students to have strong communication skills, an excellent eye for detail and a desire to understand the human mind.
Advice for Earning Your Criminal Justice Degree Online
Online criminal justice programs offer students the opportunity to complete course work on their own time and from the convenience of their homes. Students can choose to earn an associate, bachelor's or graduate degree. Regardless of the degree you choose to pursue, you should ensure that the learning institution in which you enroll is accredited, either regionally or nationally. Employers often require that their workers have a degree from an accredited college or university because it is one way to tell whether a school offers a high-quality education. It also ensures that the institution has policies and procedures in place to ensure students learn the skills they need to excel in the workplace.
During your studies as a criminal justice major, you will learn the development of policies and procedures within the criminal justice field. You will also explore the techniques used in the field and how to apply them to every day scenarios. These skills will assist you in learning to think clearly when faced with common problems. Most criminal justice degree programs focus on several aspects of the justice system, including the study of the agencies and institutions that exist within the system, such as corrections, probation and parole, law enforcement and judiciary. Common courses include an introduction to criminal justice, criminology, criminal procedure, criminal law, information systems, crime prevention, sociology, ethics and research methods in criminal justice.
Common Career Paths
The need for laws, governing bodies, law enforcement and corrections will continue to grow, as they are essential to promoting public safety. Graduates of criminal justice degree programs will be ready to enter the workforce in a number of fields, including immigration, probation, security services and forensics. Jobs can be found at the local, state or federal levels and in the private sector. Common careers include (but are not limited to):
Police officers protect people and property. Although the specific job duties of police officers depend on their departments and the size and type of their organization, they work to uphold the law and ensure public safety in their communities. When a law has been broken or an illegal act has been committed, police officers apprehend individuals to either cite them or use the necessary steps to ensure justice is reached. They patrol their jurisdictions and enforce traffic laws, investigate suspicious activity, respond to calls from individuals, resolve problems and conflict within their communities, and write reports to keep records of incidents for which they may need to testify at a later date in court. On any given time during their shift, police officers may need to identify, pursue and arrest people who have been suspected of crimes.
Employment of police officers and detectives is expected to increase 7 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $55,010 in 2010.
Probation officers work with individuals who have been convicted of crimes but were placed on probation instead of being sent to prison. During this period, the offenders are expected to keep out of trouble and meet various requirements. Probation officers are the specialists trained to supervise them and monitor their activities to help keep them from committing more crimes. Probation officers also work with the courts on a regular basis, as they investigate the backgrounds of suspects and recommend appropriate sentences. They also may be required to testify in court with their findings and recommendations.
Employment of probation officers is projected to grow 18 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $47,200 in 2010.
Social workers help other people by improving their housing conditions and other aspects of their lives. Social workers must have a strong desire to help people because they work with individuals from various backgrounds, and who may be troubled. They help people cope with a wide range of problems, including disabilities, diseases, unemployment, poverty and drug and substance abuse. They often also work with families that have domestic conflicts.
Employment of social workers is forecast to expand 25 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their median annual salary was $42,480 in 2010.