Bachelors Degrees in Criminal Justice Tips

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What Else Should I Consider Prior to Obtaining My Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice?

Bond, James Bond...Or Not.

For some, obtaining a bachelors degree in criminal justice evokes images of James Bond, high tech artillery and secret passageways. Unfortunately, these are not realistic notions about the field and, if you do not realize this prior to seeking your degree, you may end up disappointed.

While there is great potential for excitement, creativity, and even helping others in the field, the chances of hoping into your Lear jet and landing on a mound of diamonds is not realistic. All jobs, including those in the field of criminal justice, include rote tasks and aspects that are less than exciting or fun.

Additionally, it is very important for you to consider your expectations and comfort around real-life situations and experiences. The field of criminal justice often involves seeing very painful realities about people and the world. The very fact that the field of criminal justice is rapidly expanding indicates a worsening in disparaging conditions. That means that while you may be needed or helpful in some situations, that you must be prepared to resolve that there are some in -place realities and systems that are locked and that it would take a universal overhaul (not one human being) to completely change those things. The bottom line is that if you are planning to go into this field wearing your superman cape, then it is suggested that you think through your motivations prior to doing so. And if you still decide to go into the field, then have a self-care plan of action in place right from the start!

How I Determine A Timeline for Obtaining a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice?

Make An Educational Timeline

Everything is an investmet on time, even your bachelors degree. When reviewing your options for online bachelors degree programs, take into consideration everything from age to socioeconomic status to current family or job commitments. While an online degree may take less time, an online degree is often cost effective and time effective. An online degree may give you time to work during the day or enjoy an internship opportunity that helps advance your career. Consider the following questions before making your decision:

  • How much of a "college" experience am I looking for?
  • How many hours a week do I already work and is it feasible for me to go back to school full-time? This would require loans that must be paid back following graduation.
  • How many years do I want to give myself to complete my degree? This will be dependent on your financial situation, job need(s) timeline, interim experiences, and even age.
  • What is my flexibility in terms of time and finances?
These are just a few questions to get you started. No matter what you decide, it's a good idea to write down your career plans and goals so that you feel accomplished at the end of your degree when you have followed-through on something you have established for yourself!

How Do I Learn More about Specialty Areas within the Field of Criminal Justice?

Learning More About Areas of Curriculum/Career Specialty

Once you decide to obtain your bachelors degree in criminal justice, you will then have to decide which specific area you would like to focus. This specialty area will be a key factor in determining your course curriculum, any available internship opportunities, as well as job interests/potential upon graduation. Some suggestions to consider prior to making a decision on this specialty are:

  • Talk to as many people in the field as you can and try to talk to people that work within various specialties in the area of criminal justice. It is very different to read a bio about a program and to have a conversation with someone who actually works in an area.
  • If you do not know anyone in the field, contact the schools in which you are interested and ask to be in contact with a program member or alumnae so that you can hear their first-hand experience on the program.
  • Search a variety of job websites to see what kind of employment is out there. Read the job requirements. Chances are you will find a recurring theme as to what the most lucrative and marketable areas of the field will be.
  • If you know you are interested in a specialty area that has less job offerings, try to self-advocate and obtain a part-time job, internship or apprenticeship prior to obtaining your degree. This way you can make sure that you want to put forth the effort to advance your education.

Does a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice offer Areas of Specialty?

Areas of Curriculum Focus

If you opt to obtain your bachelors in criminal justice, it is likely that the school you select will offer specific areas of focus. It is important to know what specialty areas interest you so that you can select a program/university that most adequately suits your needs. Examples of specialty areas include Paralegal Studies, Economic Crime Investigation, Fraud Management, Juvenile Justice, Criminal Justice Administration, Criminology, and Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Do government agencies generally hire candidates with a bachelors degree in criminal justice?

Working For Government Agencies

The benefits of working for the government are numerous including extensive career growth and lifelong benefits. But it is not always easy to get your foot in the door. Government agencies including the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, The Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security are seeking qualified candidates. Some of these agencies also offer internships and apprenticeships nationally and abroad for those eager candidates who may not have obtained enough pre-graduate experience in the field.

What Can I Expect if I Obtain a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice

Bachelors Degrees in Criminal Justice: What Do They Mean?

A bachelors degree in criminal justice typically takes about four years to complete. This amount of time can be reduced if you are interested in earning an online degree in the field. Unlike an associates degree, which costs less money and usually takes less time, a bachelors degree will provide you with a broad amount of knowledge in the criminal justice field, while allowing you the opportunity to select a specific area of focus (such as legal studies, loss prevention, protective services, juvenile justice, etc.). While a bachelors in the field will give this opportunity to specialize, it will not provide the advanced technical or clinical skills that a masters degree or PhD program would provide.

A bachelors degree is an excellent degree program to consider if you're seeking to be a generalist in the criminal justice field, with the option to find a focus after you begin your career. While higher-level degrees, such as a masters and PhD can increase your salary range, a bachelors may, in fact, make you more marketable early on, because you will not be overspecialized or require a higher level salary from the get-go. Additionally, once you get your foot in the door in the field, criminal justice agencies are well-known for providing future educational and job opportunities within the context of your job.

If I obtain my bachelors degree in criminal justice, do I have to work, specifically, in that field?

Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice: A Means to a Different End

If you want to obtain a masters degree in social work or a masters degree in political science, it is a good idea to obtain your bachelors degree in criminal justice (or one of the specialized fields in that area). For instance, if you decide to get a masters degree in social work, then your potential employers would know that you not only acquired clinical expertise in your education, but that you also gained experience/knowledge regarding issues like forensics, crime, court systems, etc. In this time of changing societal values, such a variety of experiences would prove quite marketable in the job world, as well as leave you more job options upon graduation (rather than if you obtained your undergrad and grad degree in only one area).

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Jerry Mayo