Is a Criminal Justice Degree Really Worth it?
There is a perception out there that people who pursue a criminal justice degree are wasting their money on a degree that’s going to be of no use. The fact is that it is a worthwhile degree if you earn it at a reputable university.
So, why are people so negative about it? Maybe because those disreputable schools with enormous advertising budgets are giving the industry a bad name. And their graduating students are not properly equipped for real world job market.
Criminal justice degree programs and many other popular programs fall under this presumption. The beginning of online learning has only contributed to this belief.
Is a criminal justice degree worth it financially?
It can be worth it financially when in conjunction with the size of the organization, your education and working hours. For instance, when it comes to law enforcement job opportunities, such as a detective, a police officer or an FBI agent, individuals applying in the mid to large-sized agencies are required to have a college degree.
Mid to large agencies offer higher paychecks than smaller ones and your level of education above the standard requirement is what really counts. If you are enrolled in an Associate’s degree, you should probably consider upgrading to a Bachelor program.
Note that entry level salaries are often low. After your probationary period is over, your salary should increase and you have advancement opportunities. Small departments situated in townships or villages may require only a GED or a high school diploma, but you will get the salary according to that minimum educational requirement.
Is a criminal justice degree right for you?
A criminal justice degree is good for you if you are interested in the criminal justice system, such as law enforcement or correctional fields. But, keep in mind that even when a college degree is required when applying for the job, then degrees in law, accounting and business are as good as criminal justice. There is one thing you should think about. Choose the field you love. It is much easier and healthier going to work when you enjoy what you do rather than when you hate each day in the office.
When a criminal justice degree is not the best choice?
If you are interested in working within the criminal justice field, if you have a clean criminal record and a good credit history, a criminal justice degree is right for you. However, a criminal justice program might not be the right choice for you:
- if you have a criminal record (felony convictions or domestic violence)
- if you have DUIs that are repetitive
- if you have bad credit (still, those with recovering credit might be considered)
- if you lack interest in the field
- if you are only looking for an office job
- if you have little interest in carrying a firearm
Therefore, a degree in criminal justice may be helpful for individuals interested in teaching opportunities and research. Keep in mind that even if you get a PhD degree, real-world experience is always preferred as an accessory to your education.