Criminal Justice Education Today

The criminal justice field in general has gotten more complex as have all businesses with the advent of technology. A quick look through the job openings listed within the Department of Homeland Security recruiting site lists positions for chemists, IT specialists, statisticians, software experts, telecommunications specialists, contract logistics managers, just to name a few.

However in the are of law enforcement a degree in criminal justice, police science or law enforcement administration are still tickets to excellent careers. For increasing numbers of local police and sheriffs’ agencies, some formal education for officer applicants has become important. Because of the increasing desire for law enforcement personnel with post secondary education, the value of a degree in the field begins at the entry level and continues throughout the ranks.

Law Enforcement Officers

Police recruits who are accepted still have to get through the police academy, in most departments. But increasingly, an associate’s degree in criminal justice or a related field is a real plus. Officers who have done course work in the field are more likely to pass any entrance exam and are going to have an easier time during the training period. Many departments welcome military veterans as officer applicants because of their experience with a rigorous training regimen.

Most departments are looking for recruits under the age of 27 or so. Often individuals who are anticipating applying for a position as a police recruit will opt for one of the many online schools that offer criminal justice degrees and obtain an associate’s degree while still working at another job.

Law Enforcement Leadership

While many police agencies still use civil service tests to develop selection lists for rank advancement, formal education is coming into play in these situations as well. Police officers with veteran status who want to move up the leadership ladder often go back to school. Here again, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or in law enforcement administration is readily available through an accredited online criminal justice school. Many officers find it more convenient to take those night classes at home than in a classroom.

Federal Law Enforcement Positions

The number of law enforcement agencies now under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security are too numerous to lay out any comprehensive analysis of educational requirements. The FBI requires a degree in accounting or computer science and three years work experience – or a master’s and less work experience, or a law degree.

Many of the enforcement positions in the Customs and Border Protection welcome recruits with criminal justice degrees. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency is the largest investigatory division in the entire DHS. The Transportation Security Administration hires law enforcement and investigation professionals as well as the familiar security teams in public transportation facilities.

Author's Bio: 

Bob Hartzell writes on education and careers for several websites.