What Type of Criminal Justice Degree is Right for You?
Are you considering a career in criminal justice, but are unsure what types of degrees are available to you? Have you contemplated the different criminal justice studies programs, but do not know which one best fits your interests? Do you know exactly what you want to do within the field of criminal justice, but are unsure what degree you need to score your dream career?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, you have come to the right place. There are many different options when it comes to earning a criminal justice degree. You can pursue an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degree in criminal justice. You can focus on Homeland Security or Public Safety. You can study the administrative or research side of criminal justice, or learn how to be at the forefront of crime and criminal investigation. You can work in the local, state, or federal criminal justice systems. The choices are all up to you.
Understanding the different paths you can take in criminal justice education is an important first step towards your career. Here are five different types of criminal justice degrees that will help you gain a solid foothold in the law enforcement field.
- Public Safety and Law Enforcement
Public safety is just what its name infers: a consistent effort to protect the public and keep society safe. A branch of the criminal justice major, public safety is particularly designed for individuals who aspire to further their careers as law enforcement officers and first responders. If you want to be a leader, a hero, and are ready to make a difference, a public safety degree may be for you. With a public safety degree, you can work in a variety of organizations such as emergency management agencies, police agencies, fire departments, or rescue squads. You may also work with private agencies or on college campuses to protect smaller communities against crime.
- Homeland Security
Homeland Security is a program with many diverse opportunities for natural protectors. In essence, homeland security professionals safeguard the country and its communities from terrorism as well as natural and man-made disasters. Homeland security majors learn how to protect borders, airports, and seaports against terrorism; prepare for and respond to both natural and man-made disasters; and offer counterterrorism or law enforcement support. If you choose to pursue a homeland study degree, you can work in emergency management, border patrol, private security, or airport security; as well as institutions such as the DEA, FBI, Secret Services, and the military.
Corrections is a popular course of study for those interested in criminal justice. Corrections professionals work as prison officers in county, state, and federal facilities. They oversee and manage people who have been convicted of crimes: processing them into the system, preventing assaults and escapes within the facility, and preparing them to transition out of the prison system. If you choose to pursue an education in corrections, you will learn various aspects of counseling and rehabilitation for inmates, probation, parole, and juvenile services. At the end of your degree program, you may land a career as a corrections, probation, or parole officer. According to Discover Criminal Justice, 86 percent of probation officers and correctional treatment specialists have a Bachelor’s degree.
Criminology is a sector of the criminal justice major that concentrates on the social aspects of crime: why a crime takes place, how society reacts to crime, and how we can prevent crime as a whole in our society. Criminology, in this sense, is a social science. If you choose to pursue a criminology degree, you will study the ins and outs of criminal behavior and explore the various precursors that lead up to a crime. You will acquire knowledge in other supplementary areas such as psychology and sociology in order to interpret criminal behavior and the criminal mind. If you want to become a forensic psychologist, prison psychologist, or criminal profiler, a criminology degree may be for you.
- Social Work
While there are many directions one can take with a social work major, there are great opportunities for social workers within the criminal justice system. A focus in criminal justice as a part of your social work degree can find you employment through any private, state, or federal organizations. You may work with prison inmates, recently released ex-offenders, or individuals attending intervention programs in efforts to prevent future crime. You will help these individuals identify their problems and opportunities, as well as pathways to a healthy, crime-free future. As a criminal justice professional with a degree in social work, you may develop rehabilitation programs for convicted individuals or help support their family members through the experience.