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Criminal Justice Degree

The Criminal Justice Degree is a general degree that encompasses the study of the judiciary, law enforcement and corrections. These branches of government are responsible for citizen protection, prevention and mitigation of crime, and implementing penalties for law violators. As a student of this program, you will learn the concepts and principles behind arrest and prosecution, defense, sentencing and imprisonment of suspects charged with criminal offense and convicted individuals.

Coursework for this degree includes the theories behind crime and criminology, the judicial process, criminal justice ethics, courses dealing with corrections, policing, law and research methods and statistics. In a bachelor’s degree, you can choose to major in any one the components of criminal justice: the courts, law enforcement and corrections. A web-based program will give you an online degree or you can take the course as an on campus education. A criminal justice bachelor’s degree may also be your pathway to a master’s degree or as an entry point for law school.

Because of its broad field, there are many employment opportunities for a criminal justice graduate in the government and in private organizations. In the judiciary, jobs available are for court administrator, court clerk, paralegal or pre-trial investigator. In law enforcement, you can be a police officer, border patrol agent, drug enforcement officer, sheriff or park ranger. If you want to work in a correctional facility, you can be a manager, prison guard or warden, a parole or probation officer. Private companies hire criminal justice graduates to be a bodyguard or an industrial security officer. For federal and state law enforcement, the FBI and CIA are potential employment options.

Salaries vary, depending on your degree level and employer. In the BLS website, national estimates for annual wages of police and sheriff’s patrol officers range from $31,700 to $83,510 as of May 2010. From the same source, correctional officers and jailers earned an annual wage range from $26,040 to $67,250 for the same period.