Associates Degrees in Criminal Justice Tips

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How Can I Make A Decision As to Whether the Criminal Justice Field is For Me?

Associates Degree in Criminal Justice: A Realistic Perspective

Many people get into the field of criminal justice with a desire to help people or society as a whole better themselves. For some, entry into this field comes from a humanitarian desire to "make a difference" or reach out to those in need. While these goals are admirable and certainly attainable on a micro-level, this kind of thinking must be examined prior to entry into any service-oriented profession.

The reality is that the magnitude and depth of unjust experiences and situations all over the country (and world) cannot be alleviated by one person or one career. The good news here is that if you have positive intentions and are seeking to make a difference, it is possible to do so on a one-to-one basis by maintaining a strong level of ethics and job commitment.

If you have a difficult time seeing painful truths about people and society or if you tend to internalize other people's sadness, anger and violent behavior it is recommended that you either talk with a professional or trusted companion prior to entering the field of criminal justice. Join with someone who really knows you and be willing to receive an honest answer about your ability to set and maintain internal boundaries. In searching for any new career, particularly when it comes to the field of human and societal relations it is most important to determine your ability to engage and be successful without losing out on the quality of your own life.

What Kind of Salary Can I Expect to Make with an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice?

Associates Degree in Criminal Justice: Salary Ranges

While each job is going to vary with an associates degree in criminal justice, it is possible to estimate your opportunities and your needs prior to fronting the money to obtain your degree. The research in all areas of specialty in the field-from paralegal studies to homeland security to correctional officer jobs indicates that the salary range to expect is, on average, from the low 30's to the mid 40's.

It is recommended that you do further research on the specific areas of speciality and their related salary ranges. It is also recommended that you not only consider salary when making a career choice (while this is, of course, a major factor to consider), but benefits, job tasks, working environment, and opportunity for advancement (which includes opportunity for further education and salary increase at no additional cost to you). And remember, that if you decide to look for a job in this field, this is a prime time to negotiate salary ranges, because the need for criminal justice employees is dramatically increasing.

What Are Other Areas of Specialty to Consider with an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice?

Associates Degree in Criminal Justice: More Areas of Specialty

It would be impossible to list in a few tips the broad spectrum of career opportunities and specialties within the field of criminal justice. Associate's degree programs offer a wide variety of special interest or curriculum focused options. Some areas to consider, which haven't already been outlined above are:

  • criminal justice administration
  • paralegal studies
  • forensics
  • homeland security
  • legal administrative assistant (secretary)
Jobs in the area of law can be fulfilling, offer great benefits and not involve some of the "dramatic" or even traumatic things you may experience or witness if you choose to have a more hands-on emphasis. That being said, however, those areas of focus may not provide you with the excitement and intensity you may be seeking by obtaining a degree in criminal justice.

As with all degree/career pursuits it is highly suggested that you really research what you are getting yourself into prior to making a decision to commit your time and money (and life) to this endeavor.

  • Go to the library and read about your options
  • Talk to the career counselors at the school that interests you
  • Ask if you can converse with any current or former students with that area of focus (it is very common that students will work with admissions personnel on such matters)
  • Do some online research
  • And remember, that every bit of information you receive will be subjective, so that you will ultimately have to really practice self-awareness and examination to make the balanced decision that is right for you.

How Does the Recent Terror Conflict in the United States Affect Job Attainment with an Associates Degree?

Terrorism and Increased Security Jobs

If you are interested in obtaining an associate's degree in criminal justice, now is an excellent time to do so. Despite all the other recommendations regarding biding your time and putting forth the footwork, the job market is currently wide open in this field, and seeking increasing numbers of support people. The need is so great and the time commitment necessary to achieve higher-level degrees so consuming, that agencies are being forced to higher employees with less experience. In fact, many retired military personnel are being called back to service (at an extremely high salary requirement) to fill these needs. It is very possible that in order to avoid paying such extreme salaries for retired personnel with more experience, the option to hire someone with a new degree and less experience would be appealing.

While it is unfortunate that our country is struggling so intensely with issues surrounding war, terrorism and foreign relations, this does mean job opportunities for people with degrees in criminal justice. Since the job need is vastly increasing, this is a good time to try and get a higher level position with an associates degree (which will save time and money overall).

What Kind of Career Can I Hope to Obtain With an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice?

Careers With An Associates Degree In Criminal Justice

The term "criminal justice" has now become a very broad term for a variety of specialized career interests. There are associates degrees in criminal justice, crime scene technology, and terrorism/security management.

Note, that if you decide to embark on an associates degree program (rather than a bachelor's, master's or PhD program) that your job options may be more limited to state and local jobs. While this sound inhibiting at first, these types of jobs often offer excellent benefits packages, as well as ample vacation time and opportunity for educational advancement at no additional charge to you.

The recommendation is that since you have a great wealth of curriculum focus options that you make a list of what draws you to the field of criminal justice, complete further research on the specific tasks associated with each emphasis, and make an educated decision on what tasks, time-schedule and level of commitment are most amenable to your lifestyle and needs. Weigh the pros and cons. Consider your monetary and familial duties. Consider your energy level and desire for commitment. After you have a more detailed picture of your needs, you can look further into areas of special interest within the field.

What Should I Expect if I am Interested in a Career in Juvenile Justice?

Juvenile Justice Jobs

One of the areas in the criminal justice system with increased need and fewer educational programs is in the field of juvenile justice. Many people often think of social workers, psychologists and DCFS workers when they think of juvenile justice, but there are opportunities for those with an associates degree in the field as well.

While juvenile justice is certainly an admirable career venture, it is recommended that you really examine your motives prior to entering work with juvenile delinquents. While these adolescents and teenagers have a lot to offer if given the right set of treatment, boundaries and circumstances, it is very difficult to experience what is is like to see such youthful appearance tempered by a great deal of anger, abuse and violence. This field is not recommended for people who have not either worked with troubled teens/young adults or who have not done an ample amount of research on the difficulty in making lont-term changes when faced with juveniles who have been harshly treated, or neglected and responded to this in anti-social ways.

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