Degrees in criminal justice have become more and more popular among high-achieving members of the protective services community. But which degree do you need, exactly?
Criminal justice degrees are available online or on-campus, at the associate
level. While on-campus courses allow direct interaction with other students of criminal justice, online degrees allow you to fit your studies into your current schedule and still enjoy the opportunity to work closely with fellow students and instructors.
Most law enforcement agencies in the U.S. require that their employees complete at least some college, making the associate degree in criminal justice a popular choice for those eager to start work as soon as possible. (Currently employed students may choose to earn their degree online while they continue to earn a steady paycheck.) Many associate degree holders become police and sheriff patrol officers, who earn a median income of about $47,000.
If you'd like to continue your education, associate degree credits are often transferable, and may fulfill some of the requirements for a bachelor's degree program. With this degree, you may be eligible for a variety of higher-level jobs, including warden, secret service agent, deputy sheriff, and other supervisory positions. Median annual salaries of first-line police supervisors are nearly $70,000.
To be admitted into a master's degree program, you must already have your bachelor's degree. Your master's degree in criminal justice can be completed in two years. With a master's, you can advance to the highest levels of criminal justice administration, including careers as a police chief or FBI agent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these experienced professionals typically earn annual salaries between $60,000 and $100,000.