Whether you're just starting your criminal justice career or you're looking to get into a management or leadership role, there are several reasons why you should consider earning a master's degree in criminal justice. It could be one of the best decisions you'll ever make.
Education Requirements for Criminal Justice Jobs
The amount of education you'll need when pursuing a criminal justice career will vary depending on the type of job. For example, there are several jobs that only require a high school diploma or its equivalent. These will typically include openings for police and correctional officers as well as dispatchers. Training will be required, of course, but no formal college education.
Even if your particular job doesn't require a degree, there are several fields in which you may be interested that require not only a bachelor's degree but also a master's. This will take a great deal of commitment on your part, but you'll very likely find the investment in your education worth it in the long run.
In many instances, for example, you'll need a master's degree in criminal justice for a position in administration or upper management. The same is true if you're interested in becoming a forensic psychologist or a criminologist.
If you aspire to enter federal law enforcement and become an FBI agent, for instance, a master's degree could help you stand out from the competition.
Influencing Public Policy
If you are interested in a criminal justice career and want to affect how laws are made rather than enforce them, a master's degree will just about be a must.
Positions exist, for example, for assistants who research and analyze trends in the criminal justice system so that legislators have the information they need to propose laws. This can be a very lucrative career, but a master's degree will often be necessary.
Other methods of influencing public policy include performing research for think tanks that work to change the criminal justice system. This research is extensive, and it often takes a master's degree just to get your foot in the door.
Making Your Choice
Again, making the decision to pursue a master's degree in criminal justice is something that will require careful consideration. It will not only take a great deal of hard work, but there will also be expenses involved. You need to make sure getting this degree will help take your professional career where you want it to go.
You'll also need to take the time to research the different programs available, and whether you want to go the traditional route or take classes online. Also, be prepared for it to take a year or longer to earn your degree.
There is no one answer that is right for everyone. Talk to your family and friends, as well as co-workers, who may have pursued a master's. Once you've done your homework, you're likely to make the best choice possible.
Learn more about the TAMIU online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program.
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