A Criminal Justice Certificate Course May Not Be Enough

If you are looking to expand your criminal justice education, or are in need of that much-needed promotion, a criminal justice certificate course may not be enough. If you have been immersed in the criminal justice work environment for quite some time, like law enforcement, you have probably noticed that your rookie counterparts are starting out with an education in their hand. The required 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours of college-level courses is often a requirement for you to obtain a job in the criminal justice field. However, many of those newly hired law enforcement officials have a bachelors or a masters degree.

It is my contention that criminal justice certificate courses are only good for career promotion purposes. In the near future, criminal justice certificate holders will be overpowered by those that have a college degree. But, certificate courses may come useful after you obtain your bachelor or a master degree. In essence, obtaining them will show your employer that you are serious about your career.

So what do you do if you don’t have a degree?

If you don’t have at least a bachelor degree, you should not start your education by taking random courses that may offer a certificate. In my opinion, this could be a major waste of time and financial resources. Farther, I believe that you should start your education on a degree path. Doing so only if you deem yourself ready. At this time, ready may mean a lot of things to you, but I’m sure that after a mindful debate you will be able to come to a conclusion about if you are ready or not to invest in yourself.

The future of the criminal justice field

The criminal justice field, like many others, is expanding with a ferocious speed. The required education level has been progressively increasing and it will continue to increase in the future. I remember, that in the past, all you needed is a high school diploma in order to obtain a job as a police officer. Then, in the 90s requirement of some college education was presented, especially in urban areas. More rural areas stayed with the high school degree requirement, as those with some college education went to bigger cities that paid better.

Now, in the new millennium, the standards have risen again. Majority of midsize to large cities now require at least a bachelors degree in order to obtain a position at the starting level of the law enforcement field. more and more of small townships, villages, and other rural areas are retreating from the high school degree requirement. Many would like for their potential employees to have the minimum 60 semester college hours, and some, would prefer a completed degree.

The good the bad and the ugly

Certificate courses are a great addition to an already educated individual. They are also of significant importance to those that would like to start a career in criminal justice, but are still on the fence. Additionally, they are a great resource to those that like to learn about the ever evolving criminal justice field. However, with the new demands imposed by the law enforcement and the criminal justice community, a potential prospect has the desired education requirements completed. Unfortunately, these new requirements require much more than a certificate course or courses in criminal justice.

But don’t worry. If you are really serious of starting a career in criminal justice, you don’t necessarily have to complete a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Nearly all establishments that require a bachelor degree, require just that, a bachelor degree. It could be a bachelor degree in business, biology, language arts, politics, or something you like. I would recommend sticking with the popular degree paths and would urge you to stay away from a degree in basket weaving. Criminal justice, although highly desirable in the law enforcement field, isn’t the only degree accepted.

Moreover, there is an added incentive in pay for those that do have a bachelor degree or a graduate degree. In smaller towns or rural communities a prospect with a bachelor or a graduate degree is often considered as a pristine candidate. And, no matter if you work in a big city or a Small Town USA, your degree will often offer you the bargaining power for career advancement. This is something a certificate course alone cannot achieve.

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

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