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Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice

If you have an utmost level of respect for the law and you find the court systems intriguing, then maybe you should consider pursuing your Bachelors degree in criminal justice. Or if you have a desire to spend your career protecting the citizens of a town, then a career in criminal justice may be the answer. This degree program, which typically results in a Bachelor of Science degree, will help you transition smoothly into the field of criminal justice. Remember, before you can begin working towards your bachelor's degree you must first obtain your high school diploma.

criminal justice degree As you start the course work needed to obtain your degree in criminal justice you will first be required to complete some general education type classes. These classes will cover areas such as English, history, math, social sciences, psychology, and physical sciences. Once you are ready to begin completing your more concentrated classes you will be required to take courses like: ethics in criminal justice, principles of investigation, gender and criminal justice, juvenile delinquency, crime and the media, correctional institutional systems, and the origins of criminal justice.

Generally speaking, you will be learning how to analyze criminal behavior, how to identify criminal patterns, how the justice system works, strategies for controlling and limiting crime, and how to accurately process evidence. If you are particularly interested in terrorism and homeland security, many traditional colleges and universities are now offering courses that will allow you to focus on this field of study.

After obtaining your Bachelor's degree in criminal justice you will be prepared to work in law enforcement, as a forensic scientist, or as a crime scene technologist. While a bachelor's degree in criminal justice is not required to work in law enforcement, this degree will make it more likely for you to be able to advance within a department or to work to become the sheriff of a town. However, your Bachelor's degree will allow you to work within federal or local law enforcement, to work in a correctional facility, to work in homeland security, to work in drug enforcement, or to become a detective.

If you choose to work within federal or local law enforcement, you could spend your time focusing your work on white collar crimes, organized crimes, or misdemeanor crimes. Should you pursue employment as a forensic scientist, you will likely need to continue your education beyond a Bachelor's degree. If becoming a crime scene technologist sounds appealing to you, then a degree will make that possible. In this capacity you will spend much of your time analyzing and preserving a crime scene and working to properly obtain evidence.

Should you decide to further your educational level beyond your degree, you may be required to complete an internship relative to your area of concentration. You will also be required to complete course work that addresses advanced theories relative to the criminal justice system. Typically, this course work will build upon the criminal justice foundation that you already have.


Court Reporting Bachelor’s Degree – Become a court reporting with the proper training. Earn your BA degree from an accredited school.

Crime Scene Investigation Degree – Start your degree training today. Learn about crime scene investigation and take courses in criminal justice and law.

Criminal Justice Administration Degree – Work for a law firm at the front desk and handle all of their administration duties.

Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science – Want to become a fireman or arson investigator? Start your degree program today after you research any of the online or campus locations listed.

Homeland Security – Join the fight against terrorism and earn your Bachelor’s degree in homeland security. Learn about TSA, emergency planning, disaster management and more.

Law Enforcement Degree – Start down the right path to becoming a police office or a career in law enforcement. Earn your Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college.

Paralegal Bachelor’s Degree – Want to work in a legal setting as a paralegal? Begin your degree training from an online school.

Private Investigation Degree – Learn how to become a private investigator with the end goals of owning your own business.


Criminal Justice Graduates

Criminal Justice is an interesting subject. In addition to the nature and content of education, the many TV shows that highlight this career play a role in why many people are now choosing this career path. If you want to pursue it as a profession and want to find out more about the career opportunities, you’ve come to the right place. There is much more to this line of work than you see on television. Therefore, before venturing deep into this field, it is essential to learn as much as possible about this crime-fighting industry.

It is not a profession for the weak-hearted. You will have to study and train hard to flourish in your desired post. In fact, the minimum requirement for most Criminal Justice career paths is a bachelor’s degree. Before enrolling into a school and investing your time and money, make sure that the skills required for criminal justice match your abilities and interests.

After studying criminal justice, you can work as an investigator, correctional officers, adult probation officer, attorneys, prosecutors or judges. You can serve as a juvenile detention and probation officer or work at police agencies as detectives, officers or security officers. Other options could be working at private organizations or local and federal government agencies.

What You Will Learn at School

To simply state what you will be taught as a criminal justice major, you will be educated about the various legal and correction systems in the country. You will learn the philosophy of punishment and how to discourage criminal activities. The schools focus on teaching the ethical codes of behavior which you must always keep in mind while utilizing your knowledge. After you graduate, you will be prepared to work in law enforcement, victim services, court administration and corrections. A great side of the criminal justice degree is that you can use the degree to study in law school and other relevant graduate programs.

With passing time and the advancement of technology, the field of criminal behavior and law enforcement education is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Individuals who make up current police forces, correctional facilities, court systems or similar related agencies are expected to have a good social science background. This basically prepares them for an array of career opportunities. American law requires professionals in this industry to be well-educated before they take responsibility and are assigned duties to serve the nation. After you attain your criminal justice bachelor’s degree, you can choose to move in many career directions. Some of the common choices have been stated below:

- Attorney
- FBI Agent
- Coroner
- Police Detective
- Private Investigator
- Contracts Administrator
- Public Defender
- Child Welfare Caseworker
- Counter Intelligence Agent
- Corrections Facilities Manager
- Criminologist
- District Attorney
- Court Administrator
- Criminal Investigator
- Law Librarian
- Penologist
- Substance Abuse Counselor
- Warden


Having a bachelor’s degree can effectively prepare you for work in local law enforcement (park police, county police, juvenile justice centers, sheriff department), state law enforcement (crime labs, state crime commissions, court system, attorney general offices, narcotics bureaus, liquor control boards, state police), federal law enforcement (Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Transportation, Federal Trade Commission, Veterans Affairs, Customs Agency, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Food and Drug Administration, Office of the Inspector General) and private sector law enforcement (insurance companies, private detectives, safety officers, security patrol officers).

Requirements You Must Fulfill

Upon deciding that you want to consider applying for a particular position, you have to also assess whether you are eligible for it. You just always to be willing to learn and ready to take on challenges. You must also be prepared to function as a team member in structured settings. If you have all these skills, you can continue application process for the job. Additional benefits you may enjoy in this industry are vacation leave, sick leave paid holidays, retirement, group life and health insurance, dental programs, free meals while working, uniforms and equipment and laundry fees of uniforms. You can secure the job and enjoy all of these lucrative benefits in addition to a handsome salary amount if you fulfill the below requirements:

1. You have to be a US citizen or authorized to work in the country.
2. You should be 18 years of age or older.
3. You have to have a High School Diploma from a reputed senior high school. Another option is to get a military or state-issued General Education Development certificate.
4. You should be able to perform the functions of the post you are applying to.
5. Male applicants between age 18 to 25 are expected to provide proof of exemption from Selective Service registration or Selective Service registration.

You cannot apply if you are on active military duty, or have been discharged from the Armed Forces because of dishonorable conditions. You will not be considered for the position if you have ever been convicted of a felony, a drug-related offense or any offense related to domestic violence. In fact, you must not be probation for any kind of criminal offense. Your application will be disregarded if you have any pending criminal charges or have outstanding warrants. You cannot have a history of Class A misdemeanor conviction within the last 10 years or a Class B misdemeanor conviction within the last 5 years.

Some Career Option for Criminal Justice Graduates

1. Detective and Private Investigators
Both of these roles will require you to analyze and find out facts about various personal, financial, and also legal matters. Some examples of your service could be:
- Protecting celebrities
- Verifying people's backgrounds
- Investigating computer crimes
- Tracing missing persons.

You can apply for either job with minimal college experience. However, some jobs expect applicants to have special requirements. Most agencies are willing to teach on the job. It is very helpful to have prior work experience. In most states, private detectives and investigators must have a license to practice. The work environment for them cannot be generalized as it varies on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, they may be assigned to perform surveillance or conduct interviews. But the task may also be limited to office work such as making phone calls and researching on the computer. Considering all of these expense on a criminal justice bachelor’s degree is a wise decision as the profession that impressive return on investment. You will be financially benefited as mean yearly salary is around $80,540.

2. Police Officers
Police officers have the option to become detectives and criminal investigators, also referred to as special agents. They collect evidence and facts of any possible crimes. Your duties will be decided depending on the type of company you work for and the size of that organization. Education requirements for this post range from a high school diploma to a reputed college degree. You might also need on-the-job training. Some officers graduate from the agency's training academy. To be eligible, you must be 21 years old or older. You will also have to be a United States citizen who meets all the personal and physical qualifications needed for this job.

Police officers’ work environment might be dangerous. The nature of the job is physically demanding and it can be stressful sometimes. They have high fatalities and are prone to on-the-job injuries. If you wish to get a criminal justice degree and the become a law enforcement officer, your mean income could be $59,560. Before making the decision, research properly about the duties and skills relevant to this job.

3. Paralegals
Paralegals are professionals who assist attorneys in every aspect of their legal profession. Their job description ranges from summarizing legal precedent to the drafting motions. Just like lawyers, they can different types of laws including family, immigration, criminal and corporate law. How much they can be involved in cases depend solely on the employer. Some paralegals have narrow and restricted roles. Others enjoy very high level of autonomy and responsibility at the workplace. Top paralegals are team players. They usually work behind the scenes. No strict educational requirements regarding becoming a paralegal are there. Some of them have associate's degrees in paralegal studies. There are professionals who flaunt bachelor's degree and get certification in paralegal studies after graduation. The different certification programs offer an intense introduction to the field. These programs are usually only a few months long.

Before you enroll in any programs, you must learn about the placement rate of recent graduates. Investing time and money in these courses will be inefficient if you are unable to land a job later. Often, you will be able to find jobs after an internship. It also makes on-the-job training more effective. The average wage of paralegals in the United States is $24.92 per hour. You can earn around $51,840 per year from this profession.

4. Probation Officers
The main job of a probation officer is to work with offenders who have been sentenced on probation but will not go to prison for the crimes committed. These officers write reports on different criminals and help the court or judge to decide sentencing. They help decide what level of probation each criminal will receive. To become a skilled probation officer, you have to attain a bachelor's degree from a reputed college. You can get a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Other options are degrees in corrections, psychology or social work. If you want to be considered for federal and higher positions, you have to get a master's degree in criminal justice, counseling, social work, etc.

Most departments require that candidates should not have any felony on record. They have to be older than 21 years. Preferred qualities include impressive interview and written skills. It is plus point to have computer skills as technological advances in the industry are quite common. In some states, probation officers have to have at least 2 years of experience in corrections parole or correctional treatment. Average annual salary for this job is $53,360.

5. Correctional Officers
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) employs around 25,000 Correctional Officers in its 100 prison units scattered all over Texas. If you are seeking job a job with good salary and benefits, this is a great choice. The post offers stability, opportunities for promotion and the scope to perform an array of challenging and meaningful work. There are multiple units in the state and so, you will get the opportunity to work in your area of choice. The task of a correctional officer is to look over individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial, or those who have been sentenced to serve time. In order to qualify for this position, you have to undergo training. You will also have to participate in on-the-job training sessions. The qualifications expected from different agencies vary but the minimum requirement is usually a high school diploma. Some agencies even require a college education or additional work experience.

The work environment for correctional officers can be dangerous and stressful. You can be at risk of being injured while working with inmates. In fact, they have the highest overall injury rate. On average, they earn an annual salary of $44,910. Criminal justice is undoubtedly an interesting subject to study. However, most jobs related to this field have high responsibility and risk factor. As any of the aforementioned kinds of officers, you will be in charge of keeping the general public safe. Your work will involve office work and field work. You may be exposed to dangerous situations where you can get injured. In serious situations, it may lead to death. Yet, the feeling of serving the nation is fulfilling. If you ready for intense training and long hours of work, enroll into a criminal justice program.