If you are currently employed in a criminal justice-related position and are considering going back to school to earn a criminal justice degree (bachelor’s or associate’s), you may be able to advance in your career further than colleagues without a college degree. Colorado Christian University, with its main campus in Lakewood, Colorado, offers a bachelor’s in criminal justice and an associate’s degree in criminal justice as well as a criminal justice certificate.
While some law enforcement agencies require only a high school diploma or GED to enter a basic law enforcement training program to become a law enforcement officer, having a degree in criminal justice may allow you to advance more quickly within the ranks of your agency or department. Obtaining a degree in your field shows your superiors that you are ambitious, have received training in management techniques, and are committed to learning more than just the basics.
Many agencies now require that command staff have at least an associate’s degree in criminal justice or human services before they can be placed in a supervisory position. Special programs at law enforcement agencies (such as DARE-Drug and Alcohol Resistance Education–for school-aged children) also require that the DARE officer have a degree beyond a GED or high school diploma.
Additionally, many careers in law enforcement require you have at least a bachelor’s degree before you can be hired at an entry level position. Probation, parole and juvenile court counseling all require a bachelor’s or higher before being hired. In order to be promoted to supervisory positions in these fields, you must have either a bachelor’s degree and several years experience or a master’s or higher degree in criminal justice or a related field.
If you pursue a corrections type of position, an advanced degree will help you move up in the system. Correctional case managers, social workers, command staff and corrections program managers must have at least a bachelor’s degree, and most law enforcement positions at the federal level require applicants to have an associate’s degree or higher in order to be considered for those positions.
If you want to be an educator in the field of criminal justice, an advanced degree is absolutely necessary. Most colleges and universities require instructors have either a master’s or doctorate in criminal justice in order to teach courses. Judiciary branch employees such as court clerks and paralegals with degrees are usually chosen for promotions and raises over employees with no advanced education. A degree in criminal justice from CCU may also help you find employment outside the traditional criminal justice arena such as jobs like social services, mental health practitioners and child advocacy services.
A degree in criminal justice can mean greater opportunities for advancement, increased pay and increased status within an agency, and studies have shown that adults with degrees often experience greater work satisfaction.
If you would like to learn more about CCU’s criminal justice program and how to enroll, simply contact the university and see what the admissions requirements are for adult students interested in pursuing a criminal justice degree.