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Top Reasons to Earn Your Criminal Justice Degree

by Laura Leddy Turner

Criminal justice is the study of the structure, functions, and public policies of justice systems and their connection to law and crime. Students of criminal justice will explore the various ways justice is dispensed and how the justice system is held accountable. While a degree in criminal justice does not offer specific job training, it provides an educational foundation for many careers, some of which are traditional and others that are newly-established.

Real Life Knowledge

Earning a college degree enhances an individual's career marketability. But earning an associate or bachelor's degree in criminal justice can also prove useful in personal life situations. Every U.S. citizen is affected at some point by the local, state or Federal justice system. Whether that experience involves serving on a jury, paying a traffic fine, or simply reading about a crime or court case, knowledge of how the criminal justice system works is very useful . A degree in criminal justice helps a person understand their rights and the rights of others.

Variety of Graduate / Post-Graduate Programs

Students who are not certain of their educational or career goals find that beginning their education in the field of criminal justice allows for several options in taking the next step. A student who earns an associate degree in criminal justice is qualified to continue their education in criminal justice as well as law, psychology or social services. Students who have earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice are qualified to apply to law school or pursue a master's degree in criminal justice, business administration, forensic psychology and public administration.

Numerous Career Choices

Criminal justice graduates have a variety of career paths. Those holding certification in criminal justice secure entry-level employment in the courts system or local police force or work as loss prevention specialists. Graduates holding an associate degree in criminal justice qualify to become police officers or evidence technicians. They secure mid-level positions in the corrections system or within private security firms. Students with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice work as federal agents, forensic specialists, Homeland Security officers or criminal investigators. Students holding a master's in criminal justice hold supervisory positions in law enforcement and public administration.

Expanding Career Options

Efforts to identify and control terrorism and the growing problem of cybercrime continue to expand the job market for those with degrees in criminal justice. Airports, banks, hospitals and utility companies have increased their private security and qualified agents are more in demand. Homeland Security has a growing need for intelligence experts, counterterrorism analysts, and border patrol agents. Those students who are able to combine computer skills with a background in criminal justice will find increasing job opportunities in cybersecurity.

About the Author

Laura Leddy Turner began her writing career in 1976. She has worked in the newspaper industry as an illustrator, columnist, staff writer and copy editor, including with Gannett and the Asbury Park Press. Turner holds a B.A. in literature and English from Ramapo College of New Jersey, with postgraduate coursework in business law.

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