The criminal justice field is growing by leaps and bounds as a growing population creates the need for more officers, professionals, technicians, and workers for all aspects of criminal justice, all of whom can benefit from an online criminal justice degree. For most entry-level criminal justice jobs, you may not need a bachelor’s degree, but to advance to positions with better pay and more opportunity, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice is a valuable start. So what degree do you need for criminal justice careers? There are many possible specializations in criminal justice, but they almost all start with a bachelor’s in criminal justice.
What Degree Do You Need for Criminal Justice Careers?
A criminal justice degree focuses on the criminal justice system, specifically in the areas of corrections and law enforcement. An associate’s degree in criminal justice may be a solid start, but a higher criminal justice salary, a bachelor’s degree is the best starting point. A criminal justice degree should not be confused with a bachelor’s degree in criminology, which studies the causes, the costs and the consequences of crime. Bachelors in criminal justice jobs include professionals who apply the methods and techniques in response to those who commit crimes. The coursework includes extensive studies regarding the corrections systems, law enforcement and court system – which determines the guilt or innocence of an alleged perpetrator. Bachelors in criminal justice jobs lead to successful careers as a community officer, a correctional officer or as a police officer.
Getting Into an Online Criminal Justice Bachelor Degree Program
Students are admitted to criminal justice degree programs fresh out of high school (GPA minimums are school specific), as transfer students, or by switching majors as a student already enrolled in their school of choice. Most criminal justice degree programs require that an incoming criminal justice student takes and passes the ACT entrance exam passed in accordance with program guidelines. If a student has met their school’s admission requirements, they are then ready to begin to answer the question: What degree do you need for criminal justice in your preferred specialization?
The bottom-line: Admission to a Criminal Justice degree program depends upon a student’s ability to demonstrate they have the academic aptitude to successfully pass the program’s coursework.
Finding Entry Level Criminal Justice Jobs
Bachelors in criminal justice jobs open professional pathways for those who want to be a part of the criminal justice system, or to enforce relevant law that dictates how one responds to those who commit crimes. Entry level criminal justice jobs are available for graduates who want to be part of law enforcement, an integral member of the court’s ancillary staff, or to work within the department of corrections.
Entry level criminal justice jobs allow students to choose a career path that matches their interests, their skill set and their salary requirements. Career options include:
- Probation Officer
- Forensic Science Techie
- Private Investigator
- Police Officer
- Crime Scene Investigator
- State Trooper
- Postal Inspector
- FBI or the CIA agent
- DEA agent
- NSA agent
- Secret Service agent
- ATF agent
Be aware that many of these careers will require a separate license or certification beyond the criminal justice degree. Becoming a probation officer or state trooper, for instance, will require training and exams; there’s a rigorous process to become an FBI or CIA agent. Sometimes, these licenses will be state-by-state, such as becoming a forensic investigator. Seek out degree programs that have the qualifications for licensure exams built in to save yourself time.
Criminal Justice Salary Expectations
Criminal justice graduate salaries are based upon their area of specialty. The highest range for a criminal justice salary per hour maxes out for an FBI supervisor at about $43/hour, or approximately $90,000 per annum. The average criminal justice salary per hour falls between $20/hour and $30/hour.
Criminal Justice salary with associates degree will find a slightly lowered entry level salary than those who hold a bachelors in criminal justice degree. This is typical as the higher degree one attains, the higher the salary offered. A Criminal Justice salary with an associates degree is just the beginning. Consider advanced degrees to improve your salary options.