The Benefits of Earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice
August 2, 2019 1:55pm
Does earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice really matter when it comes to a career? Does it really create more job variety, earning potential, or advancement opportunities? The short answer to all those questions is yes. Having an undergraduate degree can be one of the best things to do for a career in the field. Here are just a few of the benefits.
According to Lionel Santiago, Orlando Police Department detective and lead faculty for criminal justice and security management programs at Southwestern College, a criminal justice degree is one of the most versatile degrees today.
“A criminal justice degree will equip you with the knowledge and skills sought by local, state, and federal criminal justice organizations,” he says. “In addition, your knowledge and skills translate across to the private sector in areas such as banking, insurance and security organizations, among many others.”
From police departments to private security companies and jobs in the court system, there are many options to choose from once you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree.
Here are just a few of the jobs you will be better qualified and prepared for:
• Corrections officer
• ATF agent
• Court reporter
• Criminal law paralegal
• Fingerprint specialist
• Private investigator
• FBI agent
• Fraud analyst
Opportunity for career advancement
Though some police departments require a degree to become a police officer, most only require candidates to complete their academy and then complete on-the-job training. But if you want to choose from a wider variety of careers, higher paying jobs, and promotions, completing your undergraduate degree in criminal justice is the ticket.
A degree shows that you have dedicated the time to develop your communication, leadership, and critical thinking skills – all of which set a foundation for what makes someone in the criminal justice field invaluable. And not only will the knowledge you’ve gained while earning your degree help you move up the ranks in your field, it can also help you move into another sector of law enforcement. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, many federal agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation require a bachelor’s degree for detectives. And if you want to move out of the front lines of police work and into a position behind the scenes, a degree will only better your chances of making that happen.
Having your bachelor’s degree may also increase your earning potential. According to a survey done by California State University – Fullerton, nearly three quarters of the more than 900 agencies surveyed in every state reported paying police officers 1% to 7.49% more for having a bachelor’s degree. Having your degree can not only pay off at the start of your career, it can elevate you to higher paying positions down the road.
Preparation for graduate programs
Your bachelor’s degree is a stepping stone to earning your master’s degree, which will be an asset should you decide to elevate yours career to administrative positions, security, banking, and law.
If you have your sights set on becoming a police chief, FBI or CIA agent, for example, having your master’s degree may not be a requirement, but it can make you a more attractive candidate over those who don’t possess one. That same survey by California State University – Fullerton found that 32.1% of police chiefs and sheriffs have a master’s degree. And if you are considering jobs in forensic psychology, emergency management, or district attorney, a master’s degree will be mandatory.
Once you’ve earned your bachelor’s degree, you will have the discipline, knowledge, and skills necessary for accomplishing a graduate-level degree. And today, earning your degree while you already have a career is more manageable than ever. Online programs make it possible for law enforcement personnel to work toward degree completion day or night from anywhere while they juggle their job and personal life. There is no better time than the present to get started.
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