There was a time when enrolling in a criminal justice degree program was almost exclusively by an individual seeking entry into police academies. In South Florida, this trend lasted from the 1980s until the end of the 20th century when law enforcement agencies were flooded with applications, possibly prompted by a flurry of films and television series depicting the lives and times of police officers.
Times have changed and many criminal justice students are aiming for different careers outside of the police force. Case in point, Florida National University graduates with a Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice degree (whether online or on campus) are being offered multiple job offers, including: federal positions, corrections, and counseling.
Since law enforcement is a common and practical pathway into a career in law enforcement, we will discuss this career before moving on to others that lie outside of the yellow safety tape.
Times have changed in South Florida and now regional police academies often go through recruiting droughts that prompt them to consider candidates who may not or may not have completed a criminal justice degree. Therefore, is it worth it to get a degree?
The reality of law enforcement is that individuals who study criminal justice are still favored by police departments because it identifies candidates who will possess basic fundamental criminal justice terminology, such as: reasonable doubt, probable cause and other factors relevant to the adversarial legal system of the United States.
While an applicant might be accepted into a police officer academy without a degree, an associate’s degree in criminal justice will give your application more strength in a desirable county. It will simply offer you more options.
Here’s another reality about criminal justice degrees: not everyone who completes them will get into a law enforcement academy or government jobs, from count to federal.
So, if you do not get in to an academy or something happens down the line, your bachelor’s degree will support you. Let us say you get injured or become ill while going through the academy; if you are determined unfit to continue the program, your degree could be useful to determine your chances of returning to officer’s boot camp or can save you a desk job.
Other Careers with a Criminal Justice Degree
Private Security Specialist
Personal and commercial security is big business in Miami and across South Florida, and this is not limited to the uniformed security guards you see posted at various establishments, such as banks, auto dealerships and shopping centers. Private security specialists are often military veterans, former police officers and criminal justice graduates who receive paid, specialized training for lucrative positions, such as executive protection provider, gaming security coordinator, surveillance systems manager, safety supervisor and others. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the private security field will grow by 6 percent between now and 2026, and you could earn a starting salary of about $54,000 if you are selected to a specialized training program by virtue of your FNU bachelor degree.
An unfortunate fact about South Florida is that this is a region known for Medicare fraud. According to a recent report issued by the Department of Justice, $340 million worth of fraudulent Medicare claims were submitted by 125 suspects in South Florida during 2018 – and these are just the major cases! Smaller healthcare fraud claims are constantly looked into by special investigators hired by private insurance companies. As a fraud investigator you can work in your field, whether it is:
• government contracting
Fraud investigators tend to have a degree and experience in their specialization, so they are know their area in and out. A criminal justice degree can serve to enhance your qualifications and understanding of law and criminal activity in such a fraud investigation post.
If you are undecided between a law/paralegal and criminal justice programs offered by FNU, contact our career advisers to learn more about the courses since some of them overlap. Or read up on Paralegal Studies as a First Step Towards Your Law Career.
This position can be found in both the public and private sectors; depending on your field of specialty, you may even wear a badge and uniform, but you will be assigned to cases instead of patrol routes.
Forensics is a science, which in criminal justice is often employed for the purpose of advancing a court case or at the behest of prosecutors and is purely investigative. You may start off with crime scenes if you work for a police department, but the higher salaries are earned by those who make information technology and white-collar crime their specialties.
Forensics investigators are always in high demand; in fact, quite a few are recruited from the police force before they leave for more lucrative careers in private security. In this career, adherence to legal procedure as determined by the state bar is more important than being a skilled detective.
The “science” part of preparatory courses for this field can include:
• Natural sciences
• Computer science
See a chart of the highest paying jobs in the criminal justice field and how to move up with your degree.
U.S. Postal Inspector
Email never managed to kill the U.S. Postal Service, an institution that is highly ingrained in the fabric of both American life and crime. Postal inspectors are tasked with investigating not only suspicious packages but also the often byzantine world of the USPS, where highly sophisticated crimes often develop internally. You will need a bachelor’s degree, preferably in criminal justice, to apply for a spot at the Postal Inspection Service Career Development academy in Maryland.
Veterans Enrolling at FNU
At FNU, it is very common to find students who are military veterans enrolling in the criminal justice program. These individuals are seeking a fast track career into the job market, which includes: Florida Highway Patrol, corrections, or police academies. These students are taking advantage of their G.I. Bill or active duty benefits to make their dreams come true. FNU offers tuition incentives for military veterans, active military personnel and their families, and government employees (county, state, and federal).
If this is your case, send an email to Mrs. Yolanda Navarro, On-Line Student Admissions.
Speak with our admissions counselors to see if a criminal justice degree is the right program for your future.
FNU is a fully accredited degree-granting institution that offers the flexibility of online education along with a full campus experience at our Hialeah and southwest Miami locations.
Criminal justice is one of our degree programs that can be fully completed online for the benefit of students who are also working adults.