Criminal justice degrees are a popular choice for students with a passion for community service, as well as a career-advancing necessity for many current law enforcement professionals. A B.S. in Criminal Justice serves as a launching pad for a wide range of exciting careers, and increasingly more law enforcement agencies require an undergraduate degree to be eligible for entry-level positions.

Who is the ideal candidate for a B.S. in Criminal Justice?
Both seasoned law enforcement veterans and fresh-out-of-high-school enthusiasts find this degree to be an essential cornerstone for career success. The program is designed for:

  • A high school student who’s known since childhood that he or she wanted to be a police officer. Because a bachelor’s in criminal justice is a minimum requirement for many criminal justice professions, it’s a great way to launch and establish a career.
  • A law enforcement professional with a solid, established career seeking to advance into leadership or high-level roles. A B.S. shows current or prospective employers a candidate’s dedication to hard work and assures them that he or she has developed the skill sets required for promotion. It’s the perfect way to elevate a career.
  • An empathetic person who wants to put their faith into action as a dedicated public servant committed to protecting the people and property in their community.

What’s involved in a Criminal Justice degree program?
OKWU’s bachelor’s degree program in Criminal Justice empowers students to meet the challenges facing them by providing a well-rounded core understanding of criminal justice concepts through courses such as:

• Criminal law and the court system
• Evidence and procedure
• Victimology
• Ethics
• Asset security

Additionally, OKWU’s Criminal Justice degree program stands out from the competition by integrating God’s love for all humanity and emphasizing the value of all individuals.

What can you do with a B.S. in Criminal Justice?
Once a student graduates with a degree in criminal justice, he has a multitude of possible career paths to travel. The wide range of roles available makes it easy to find a position that’s a natural fit for a students’ unique skills, interests, and salary expectations. Here are some of the most popular and rewarding, but a following article will also highlight the more unique opportunities afforded a student with a B.S. in Criminal Justice.

Police officer or detective
Many of the professionals working on the front lines of law enforcement and criminal justice are police officers and detectives. Employment in this demanding, fast-paced field is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). “The continued need for public safety is expected to lead to new openings for officers,” since every city and municipality in the country needs a police force. The BLS cites the median annual wage for police and detectives as $61,600 in May 2016.

Private detective
In addition to assisting public detectives and local police forces in criminal cases, private detectives and investigators also enjoy opportunities in the private sector. They often perform background checks, conduct surveillance, and collect evidence related to divorce cases or worker’s compensation claims. Many private detectives have a degree in criminal justice and a background as a detective or officer in the public sector.

Fish and game warden
Love wildlife and biology? Use your criminal justice degree to help prevent fish and game law violations or ensure the safety of wildlife and visitors in national parks.

Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists
A bachelor’s degree is the typical entry-level education required for these professionals who assist in the rehabilitation of law offenders in custody or on probation or parole. The BLS reports the 2016 median wage for probation officers is $50,160 and predicts “job openings should remain plentiful because many people leave the occupation each year.”

Federal agency positions
Federal agencies typically require prospective detectives and investigators to have a bachelor’s degree. Some of the most exciting positions include:

  • FBI agent: Investigate crime scenes and enforce federal law by working against terrorism, organized crime, violent crime, civil rights violations, public corruption, or major thefts.
  • CIA agent: Help the federal government investigate violations of the law all over the world, often working covertly. A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice combined with at least five years of experience in investigation is a standard requirement.
  • Immigration and customs enforcement agent: Investigate, arrest, and deport individuals who do not have permission to be in the United States. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement division is a component of the Department of Homeland Security, and applicants with a degree in criminal justice have an advantage when entering this dynamic field.
  • Drug Enforcement Administration agent: DEA agents work for the U.S. Justice Department to enforce the drug laws of the United States and to interrupt the flow of drug traffic before it reaches potential users through overt and covert operations.
  • Secret Service Agent: In addition to protecting high-level governmental officials, the U.S. Secret Service is tasked with protecting the country’s financial security. Agents work to prevent cybercrimes, telecommunications fraud, and document forgery.

Forensic science technician
You’ll find these analytical professionals working in labs, government agencies, hospitals, and courtrooms, reconstructing events based on clues such as fingerprints, hair samples, and broken material. Employment of forensic science technicians is projected to grow 17 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, reports the BLS, and competition for jobs will be strong. The median annual wage for forensic science technicians was $56,750 in May 2016.

Blood spatter analyst
These forensic scientists visit the scene of a crime, help locate and preserve blood samples, and perform in-depth analysis at the lab. They try to replicate the blood spatter pattern to help the criminal justice system identify persons responsible for crimes. Not a career for the squeamish, but a fascinating and rewarding choice if you’ve got an analytical mind and an investigator’s heart.

If you’d like to learn more about professions like these that enable you to serve wholeheartedly and faithfully with your criminal justice degree, or if you want to learn more about a Bible-based, Christ-centered education at OKWU, we’d love to introduce you to Christian perspectives at work in any field of study. For more information on how Oklahoma Wesleyan University can help you pursue your goals, please phone us at 918-335-6200 or email info@okwu.edu.

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