Online Criminal Justice Schools and Degrees: Cleanin' Up the Mean Streets
If you're fascinated by Law and Order, Cold Case, and CSI on television, you might be a great candidate for earning an online criminal justice degree. Do you dream about putting the bad guys away, fighting for truth, justice, and the American way? Well, that dream is not so far-fetched, especially after completing an online legal studies degree program. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that local law enforcement jobs will grow by 11 percent from 2006 to 2016. And given the concern for national security, state and federal job growth should also be increasing.
Earning Your Criminal Justice or Legal Studies Degree Online
So, you've got this dream of working in one of the most rewarding fields around--namely, justice--but you can't take the time off for school. Whether it's work, family, or some other time-consuming part of your life keeping you out of school, earning your degree online can work around it. The flexible hours, virtual lectures, discussion boards, and ability to submit assignments online all make going for your legal studies or criminal justice degree something well within your reach. With a wide range of programs and online schools available to you, there's no reason to put off working on your justice-oriented dreams--you're sure to find an online program that fits your hectic schedule.
Career Options with an Online Legal Studies or Criminal Justice Degree
The field of criminal justice spans a broad spectrum. Depending on the career path you choose, where you live, and what type and level of criminal justice degree program you complete, the monetary rewards can also be significant. Based on BLS studies for 2008, here are some thumbnail sketches of careers in the field:
- Gaming Investigation and Security. All but two states now allow some form of legalized gambling, so the positions of gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators have grown significantly. Using sophisticated audio and video equipment as well as direct observation, you'd be responsible for preventing cheating and theft. The mean annual income for these jobs is $31,550
- Correction and Probation. Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists are responsible for the custody and rehabilitation of offenders, as well as monitoring those on probation or parole. The mean annual compensation for this occupation is $49,520
- Teaching Criminal Justice. Post-secondary criminal justice, legal studies, and law enforcement teachers instruct students in a variety of disciplines, including criminal justice, law enforcement administration, and corrections. The mean annual income is $59,830
- Detectives and Investigators. Detectives and criminal investigators work for local police departments, state law enforcement agencies, District Attorneys' offices, and federal agencies. They are responsible for solving crimes, apprehending suspects, and preventing crime. Detectives and criminal investigators can expect to earn a mean of $63,840
- Management and Supervision. First line supervisors and managers of police and detectives also work in local, state and federal agencies, supervising and coordinating the activities the front-line law enforcement personnel. These positions are normally filled from the ranks of Detectives and Investigators, but a degree in criminal justice can put you on the fast track for promotion to management. The mean annual compensation for police supervisors is $76,820, but depending on the agency and geographic area, it can top six figures
- Private Investigator. If you wish to work in the private sector, you might consider becoming a private detective or investigator. These positions work to uncover unlawful activity for insurance companies, detect instances of industrial espionage, and investigate for private defense attorneys. Mean annual income for a private investigator is $46,480
Although a high school degree is the absolute minimum requirement for many positions in the criminal justice field, most employers prefer candidates with at least a two- or four-year degree. Earning your online legal studies or criminal justice degree can prepare for the above careers and many more, including many within law offices and keeping an eye out for baddies first hand. There's never been a better time to start in an online criminal justice program--because there's no time like the present to start realizing your dreams and giving back to your community with a rewarding career in criminal justice.