How To Advance Your Career in Miami’s Criminal Justice Sector

How To Advance Your Career in Miami's Criminal Justice Sector

Can you work in the criminal justice field in Miami without a degree? Sure you can. However, no one wants to remain stagnant in pay and position. The earlier you start the process of getting your education, the earlier you can see the doors open to the positions in the sector that will place you where you want to be in your life.

What Are the Highest Average Paying Positions?

Comparing government statistics on salaries (see chart below), the highest paying positions in criminal justice, outside of supervisory roles, match the highest paying positions in the private sector: Scientists (lab work) and Information Technology. At FNU, as part of our degree programs, we offer classes for students who wish to add technology-based skills sets.

Although suggested electives in our Criminal Justice BA and AA are mostly in the criminal justice and legal fields, you can arrange with the department head to integrate classes from our Computer Information Technology, Computer Development and Networking Systems programs.

Anywhere in the state of Florida, you will need some basic education to get into these positions. In some cases you will need to go through their academies (in the case of law enforcement) or certification programs for court/legal work. As a Police Officer, you at minimum need an Associate’s Degree and to complete the academy program in Miami. On the other hand, to apply for a Court Reporter position, you would only need to pass a certification exam.

Compilation of Average Salary Data for Criminal Justice-related positions in Florida* in Relation To Their Educational Requirements

Pay Scale* Criminal Justice Career Title Requires High School Diploma Requires Associate Degree Requires Baccalaureate Degree
$88,270 Computer Systems Analysts**
$73,000 FBI Evidence Specialist (Lab)**
$62,960 Police Officer HS
$61,050 Patrol Officer  HS
$57,850 Forensic Science Technician  AA/AS
$55,500 FBI Special Agent  AA/AS BA/BS
$50,620 Forensic Science Technician  AA/AS
$50,410 Paralegal & Legal Assistants AA/AS
$50,210 Court Reporter NA
$47,930 Bailiff AA/AS
$44,420 Private Detectives & Investigators AA/AS
$43,510 Correctional Officer HS
$39,640 Dispatcher  HS
$34,840 Probation Officer BA/BS
$28,530 Fish and Game Warden  BA/BS
$26,960 Security Officer HS

*Where Florida salary average was not readily available, the national average was used.
**Each position will list different requirements

Do I Need an Associate’s or Bachelor’s to Move Up in My Criminal Justice Career?

Elizabeth Caridad Barcena, JD and head of the Criminal Justice department at Florida National University says: “Students can obtain a county or state law enforcement job with [just] a high school diploma, as well as security guard positions. An AA makes them more competitive, but not required. The BS, however, is where it matters. The bachelor degree opens up federal jobs, which is where the high paying, lucrative positions are found.”

Government positions work on a concrete pay scale with formalized checkbox-like criteria for wage increases based on neutral factors including education level, years in the position, languages, location of work, hazard pay, etc.

This differs from the private sector in that pay scales are based on supply and demand and can vary wildly from city to city, person to person and are also more subject to personal biases.

In the government, a position title is listed in General Schedule (GS) with an assigned number (or code). Whenever and wherever that position title comes up, the number associated has a pay scale that is not subject to change. This number is always in a government job announcement. For a full list, see here Florida General Schedule (GS) Payscale table for 2018.

Getting a Baccalaureate Through an Associate’s Degree, Made Easy at FNU

A two-year Associates is a great start. If you get your Associate’s degree at FNU as your first step (this normally takes 2 years to complete the 60-credit course) we will also accept those credits towards your bachelor degree. You won’t lose any time or credits there, and this acts as a fast track towards advancement once you have that certificate. From there, go on to finish up the baccalaureate degree, which, as mentioned, prepares you for a higher-paying, federal position.

Options are freeing in life in general. Once you have your BA, you are able to apply for federal positions, and from there you can move anywhere in the nation – and abroad!

Our Criminal Justices courses can be taken online through our distance learning program, and, of course, in person in our brand new campus in Hialeah.

We have an Associates in Arts Criminal Justice degree program that fulfills the 60 minimum credits necessary to apply for the police academy, as well as a BA in Criminal Justice that is double the credits and includes interesting classes such as

  • Methods of Research in Criminal Justice
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Terrorism
  • Minorities and Crime
  • White Collar Crime
  • Methods of Research in Criminal Justice

We also have a roughly 2-year Paralegal Studies program and a Legal Studies BA program if you find yourself more law-minded.

Note that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency also recruits among Criminal Justice and law students. Check out the FBI Miami Recruitment page.

FNU is an Accredited University

Sometimes it’s necessary to state the obvious: a degree must come from an accredited university for it to be valid towards your application for an upward career move in any field.

FNU is fully accredited, with the license to grant recognized certificates, Bachelor’s, Associates and Master’s degrees with the licensing association, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

We are also approved for Veterans Training by the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs.

If you are considering an Associate’s degree to break into the field, there are a couple of great advantages to FNU.

“We do assist students in making connections for internships. However, our students are almost all employed full time, so internships are rarely sought out,” explains Dr. Barcena.

Indeed, many of our criminal justice students at FNU are actively working in their field already. As a university dedicated to the Hispanic community, you’ll get to network with others already working in the career you’ve chosen.

Financial Aid


Learn about tuition incentives for U.S. Armed Forces, Government Employees and more. Check out general FNU financial aid. Note that we have an Alpha Phi-Mu Zeta Presidential Award is specifically for Criminal Justice or Bachelor in Legal Studies students.

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