How to Get a Criminal Justice Degree

A criminal justice degree can lead to many interesting law enforcement careers. Students who wish to pursue this goal have many education options. This article will give interested students an overview of the possible degree paths. Criminal justice students must master a wide variety of subjects. Careers in this field often involve difficult ethical choices. Understanding human behavior and developing strong communications skills are also a must. Also, people who work in law enforcement need strong analytical skills.

A criminal justice education is also good preparation for aspiring law students. Law school demands a very specific type of reasoning which can be difficult to learn. The criminal justice degree exposes students the pattern of thinking that they need to excel in law school. Many academic institutions offer Criminal Justice degrees. In most cases, students can choose between online or traditional programs.

Criminal Justice Certificate

This is the shortest possible education pathway, taking from eight to 12 months to complete. Students can earn certificates at both two-year and four-year colleges. Typical jobs you can get with a certificate are police officer, corrections officer, security officer and bailiff. Graduates can expect to earn between $30,000 and $60,000 per year.

Associate's Degree

Junior colleges offer these two-year programs in Criminal Justice. An associates degree allows you to pursue jobs like paralegal and customs inspector along with jobs you can gain with a certificate. Graduates can expect to earn between $30,000 to $60,000 per year.

Bachelor's Degree

A bachelors degree is generally offered as part of a four-year program. Four-year degrees allow students many more interesting career options. The bachelor degree can qualify students to become an FBI agent, crime scene investigator, homeland security agent, fish and game warden and Secret Service agent. Graduates can expect to earn between $30,000 and $77,000.

Master's Degree in Criminal Justice

A master's requires two more years of education after obtaining a bachelor's degree. The undergraduate degree does not have to be criminal justice, but can be in a related field. The master's degree includes study of psychology and human behavior and focuses more on the reasons why people commit crimes. A master's degree allows graduates to become criminal justice instructors, forensic investigators, substance abuse counsellors and law enforcement instructors. Graduates can expect to earn between $45,000 and $77,000.

Doctorate in Criminal Justice

Typically, student who pursue doctorates in criminal justice already have a master's. But, some students seek a criminal justice doctorate after earning a Juris Doctor. This degree path prepares students for policy-making roles in the criminal justice system such as: judge, lawyer, criminology professor, criminology researcher and other thought leaders.

Aside from the many criminal justice degree levels, students can specialize within the field. There are many aspects to the criminal justice system such as counterterrorism, forensic science, forensic accounting, criminology, corrections, security, computer forensics, criminal psychology and many more.

A criminal justice degree can open the door to almost every aspect of the criminal justice system. It's a great way to began a career in law enforcement.