Are you studying for a job in the law enforcement department? If yes, you must be wondering what can I do with an associates degree in criminal justice? Having a job in the field of criminal justice can provide you with a great chance to work for and give back to your community. Moreover, it is one of the best career options available in today’s time. In order to make sure that the laws and rules are maintained in a society, and that the innocent are safeguarded whereas the guilty are penalized, law enforcement jobs, social work or jobs in the legal system and in forensic science are extremely important. A great thing about having jobs in the criminal justice department is that you can acquire them with even just an associates degree in the field along with a clean background. In simple words, instead of a four year degree program, you can even complete two years of college coursework, and help make a difference in your community.
Acquiring an associate degree in criminal justice (CJ) provides students with a basic knowledge and expertise in various areas, for example, homeland security, law enforcement, and firefighting. Some of the positions that graduates can work in are as a paralegal, a parole officer, or a forensic science technician. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs for forensic science technicians are to increase by almost 14% from 2018-2028. Continue reading this article to find out about more opportunities that you can avail with a criminal justice associates degree.
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What Is Criminal Justice?
As far as the legal definition of criminal justice is concerned, it is bringing to justice someone who has committed a crime or someone against whom the crime was committed. Moreover, this system is actually a series of federal agencies and institutions whose goals are to rehabilitate criminal offenders, prevent other crimes, and provide victims with moral support. The fundamental institutions that fall under the criminal justice system are the police, defense lawyers, prosecution, prisons, courts, probation agencies and law enforcement agencies. In the criminal justice system, these specific agencies work together as the most significant means of maintaining the rule and regulations in a community.
Benefits Of An Associates Degree In Criminal Justice
An academic program that usually takes about two years to complete is an Associate of Arts degree (AA). It can even be considered as a halfway bachelors degree and typically when students decide to continue their bachelor’s, the credits from the associate degree are transferred to their bachelors degree. However, even if you just decide to stick with your associate’s degree, there is not anything to worry about as far as your career is concerned, because an AA degree is also very valuable and can help you get a great head start for your career.
One of the best parts about an AA degree is that you will enter the professional field and would be gaining valuable experience much earlier than you would have if you were studying for a bachelor’s degree. Federal laws regarding criminal justice are prone to changes which is why you will be ahead of your friends who will be studying for a bachelor’s degree since their textbooks are only as recent as the year they were published in.
Moreover, you already will have a two-year degree on your CV, so you can go back any time and acquire a bachelor’s degree by giving it another two years. People with an AA degree generally opt for a bachelor’s degree later on, if they want to apply for a better position or advance in their professional life. The fact that you will have a two year experience is going to be a huge plus point and an asset that you can use to your advantage.
Studying for an associate degree in criminal justice will give students an introduction to the field and set up a strong foundation for both their academic and professional life. Such a program requires 60 credits, which generally take two years to meet. Nevertheless, some online courses are also available where students go through the courses at a faster pace and can finish their degree in about 18 months. Moreover, student progress can also be accelerated by receiving credits for appropriate professional experience, such as basic training at police, parole, probation, or corrections academies.
The core courses in a criminal justice associates degree, involve American government, English organization, and basic reasoning. Associate programs acquaint the understudies with the degree and impacts of violations of the law in the United States. They dig into the hypotheses of crime and criminal conduct. Students likewise look at the U.S. equity framework, which covers law authorization, legal cycles, and restorative tasks.
While studying for an associates degree, students get ready for passage level criminal justice vocations as cops, prison guards, and private specialists. Graduates can likewise fill in as private safety officers, gaming observation authorities, firefighters, and paralegals and lawful collaborators.
Criminal Justice Jobs
There are so many diverse jobs that one can apply for with a criminal justice degree. All the different levels of various federal agencies and departments, along with various economic sectors, have positions open for individuals with a criminal justice degree. These career opportunities require qualified personnel with a broad skill set and provide them with a lot of room to grow and mature as professionals. Some of the most common occupations in criminal justice, can range from dealing directly with criminals, to jobs in a crime lab where you would be collecting data and analyzing forensic evidence.
Therefore, within a criminal justice career, there is an abundance of opportunities that you can follow. However, this also makes it difficult to actually choose an area of specialization. Are you more comfortable working in a law office or does the adventure that comes with law enforcement excite you? Can you see yourself working with troubled youth, or maybe at a correctional facility? Whatever it may be, one has to keep in mind that all of these jobs have their own distinct benefits and requirements. Given below is a list of all the possible opportunities for you if you want to pursue a career in this field.
- Police Officer
- Correctional Officer
- Private Investigator
- Fish and Game Warden
- Fire Inspectors and Investigators
- Crime Scene/Evidence Technician
- Police Dispatch
- Security Officer
- Victim Advocacy
- Probation Officer
- Youth Detention Counsellor
- Insurance Investigator
- Cyber Security Investigator
- Law Enforcement
- Homeland Security
- Private Security
- Judiciary Services
- Social Justice Services
What Are Some Criminal Justice Job Salaries?
As mentioned earlier, there are various job opportunities in the criminal justice sector. But how much do people in this field earn? Following are a few criminal justice jobs with great salaries:
Lawyer : $122,960
First-Line Police Supervisor: $89,030
Criminal Investigators and Special Agents: $81,920
Homeland Security: $77,000
Homicide Detective: $74,380
Forensic Accountant: $71,560
Forensic Psychologist : $69,510
Criminal Investigator: $67,170
DEA Agent: $66,450
Secret Service Agent: $65,000
FBI Agent: $64,060
Postsecondary Criminal Justice & Law Enforcement Teachers: $61,900
Police Patrol Officer: $61,380
Forensic Science Technician: $59,150
Probation and Parole Officers: $53,020
Private Detective or Investigator: $50,090
Correctional Officer: $44,330
Now you know about all you can do with an associates degree in criminal justice. So, what are you waiting for? Go and pursue your dream job now!