Is a Law Degree Right for You?
A bachelor’s degree in law is ideal for any student who wants to pursue a career in the legal system. However, there are many law positions that do not require a bachelor’s degree, like police and correctional officers or crime scene specialists, which only require an associate degree. A bachelor’s degree in law, on the other hand, provides with the most options, as some law occupations and agencies are only available to those with bachelor’s degrees. If you want the maximum amount of mobility in your legal career, whether you want to work for the FBI or eventually become an attorney, a bachelor’s degree in law is the way to go.
Advice for Earning Your Law Degree Online
The coursework in most law bachelor’s degree programs is lecture-based, making it easy to complete the degree requirements through distance learning. As a result, there are lots of online options for this field. However, the degree titles can vary, from law and society to legal studies to law enforcement.
If you aren’t sure which degree appeals most to you and your career goals, review the degree requirements and course descriptions carefully. While there are similarities between these programs, identify the differences before enrolling in a program. Also, make sure the institution you choose is nationally- or regionally-accredited to ensure program quality, access to federal financial aid, and eligibility for graduate programs.
Online Law degree programs are interdisciplinary, with courses in criminal justice, political science, history, sociology, and more as part of the major curriculum. Students will also take general education classes in math, science, literature, and social sciences. Some required courses might include:
- Law and Society
- Rights in America
- Philosophy of Law and Legal Ethics
- Criminal Justice
- Constitutional Law
Common Career Paths
Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in Law include:
Paralegals and Legal Assistants
- Expected Growth: 18%
- Average Annual Salary: $52,165
Legal assistants support lawyers. This generally entails conducting research, organizing information, writing reports, drafting correspondence, and getting affidavits and other formal statements that could be used in court. Legal assistants mostly work in legal services, though may also be employed in the state and local government, federal government, and finance and insurance sectors. The above salary and employment growth figures were gathered from the BLS, and represent average incomes.
- Expected Growth: 7%
- Average Annual Salary: $55,800
Arbitrators, or mediators, help resolve conflict. They are an alternative to going to court and might be employed by a business in-house or work for an independent contractor. However, most are employed by local, state, and federal governments. There are several pathways for becoming an arbitrator, including certificate programs, master’s degrees in dispute resolution or conflict management, or doctoral degrees. In that sense, a bachelor’s degree could be a stepping stone in a career towards becoming an arbitrator. Figures above were provided by the BLS.
Police and Detectives
- Expected Growth: 7%
- Average Annual Salary: $68,820
Detectives work in law enforcement agencies at local and state levels. Most detectives begin their careers as police officers and work their way to a detective or investigator position. Detectives usually have a bachelor’s degree and work with crime scene investigators and police officers to find fault in unsolved crimes. Figures above were provided by the BLS.
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
- Expected Growth: 18%
- Average Annual Salary: $55,835
Probation officers counsel criminal offenders after they have been released from a prison sentence or are carrying out a probation period. They work with clients directly to ensure they meet the requirements of their probation and monitor their progress. While some corrections positions require only some college coursework, probation officers and correctional treatment specialists must have a bachelor’s degree in legal studies, law, criminal justice, or a related field. Figures above were provided by the BLS.
Private Detectives and Investigators
- Expected Growth: 21%
- Average Annual Salary: $50,365
Private investigators usually work independently and are hired to investigate legal, financial, and personal problems. They usually offer a range of services from background checks to surveillance to investigating crimes. Most private investigators have a background in law enforcement or investigation and have extensive knowledge of the law, either through a bachelor’s degree or on-the-job training. Figures above were provided by the BLS.