Enrolling in an online criminal justice degree program can get you started in a career that is exciting and meaningful.
Criminal Justice Careers
The criminal justice field offers a wide variety of careers- from local level law enforcement to State and Federal agencies and private sector law enforcement. A career in law enforcement will allow you to make a difference whether you are a youth probation officer or an FBI agent.
One of the things that attract people to online criminal justice programs is their desire to help people. Often criminal justice is a second career for those who have found their first career to be unsatisfying. Entering the criminal justice field is an important step. An online degree program in criminal justice can get you there.
Some of the more common criminal justice occupations are described in short below. The usual educational requirements needed for each job is listed. For further information you may want to refer to the U.S. Department of Labor website and check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook for specific jobs.
Corrections Officer- Corrections officers work in jails, penitentiaries, and prisons with persons convicted of crimes or who have been arrested and are awaiting trial. Most work in State and Federal facilities with inmates. Prison workers in most State and all Federal prisons must attend college (States 2-4 years, Federal 4 years) and have previous related job experience to be considered for employment. Localities may or may not require any college. There are many criminal justice degree programs online.
Crime Scene Investigator- A crime scene investigator gathers and analyzes evidence at crime scenes. They must be trained in investigative procedures including finding, handling and preserving crime evidence. Some investigators are trained in forensic science and some are sworn police officers. Most crime scene investigators are graduates of 4 year criminal justice programs. There are also associates degree programs. Both are offered online.
ATF Agent- An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent works for the Federal agency ATF to investigate criminal violations relating to explosives, firearms, arson, alcohol and tobacco. These agents are also involved in preventing and fighting terrorism and investigate unexplained explosions and bombings. Qualifications are very stringent regarding physical and mental fitness and character. There are several grades of special agents, requiring from 4 years of college at the least to a masters degree. Previous investigative experience is also required.
Court Reporter- Court reporters are responsible for the word for word transcript of court and other legal proceedings. There are several accepted means of recording, each which require specialized training. Education required is 1 to 2 years, depending on recording method. Court reporters must have attended programs that have been approved by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA). There are several online programs approved by the NCRA.
Probation Officer- A probation officer and the related occupation parole officer supervise and monitor the activities of offenders who have been placed on probation or parole. Both work with offenders to create probation or post release plans and then evaluate their progress. Both have the goal of rehabilitating an offender and returning the offender to society. Probation and parole officers need a 4-year college degree at the minimum. There are online programs that will fulfill this requirement.
Police Officer- Police officers work for local and State police departments. Their job is to enforce the law and to protect the citizens in their jurisdictions. The duties of a police officer vary, but generally they respond to calls for assistance, arrest offenders, gather evidence, testify in court and maintain the security of their community. Most police officers are now required to complete at least two years of college in a criminal justice program as well as complete additional training after being hired. Online programs exist to fill this need.
Online Criminal Justice Degrees Available
We depend on those in the criminal justice system to keep us safe. Education and training is vital to developing and maintaining the skills necessary to perform well in these occupations. Although the above list is incomplete, it is clear that an online criminal justice degree would serve to complete the educational requirements for most occupations in the field. Whether you need an associates, bachelors, or masters degree, there is an online program for you.
Finding the right online criminal justice degree program will take some research. There are several good websites that can direct you to online criminal justice programs.
Some tips: Make sure the online college programs you are interested in will meet your needs. Find out which courses are offered and if they will be useful in the occupation you have chosen. Compare costs, as they vary greatly from school to school. Take a virtual tour online and talk directly to an admissions representative. After comparing several programs, choose the school that seems to be the best fit for you and that will help you meet your professional and personal goals.
Good luck in your search and as you start on the path to your career in criminal justice.