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Though rewarding, criminal justice careers are not for the faint of heart. Many positions are physically and mentally demanding, fast paced, and, at times, even dangerous. By earning your criminal justice bachelor’s degree, you can be prepared to meet the field’s challenges head on, serve your community and set yourself apart from other potential job candidates.Police Officer

In a four-year criminal justice program, you will learn how to write reports, take fingerprints and document crime scenes. Your coursework will cover a broad range of criminal justice topics, as well as teach you effective communication skills and professional ethics. Upon graduation, you will have a well-rounded knowledge in criminal justice and be ready to pursue your path of interest — from law enforcement, emergency management, and homeland security, or correctional counseling.

Though there are many, here are the top five benefits of earning your criminal justice bachelor’s degree.

Competitive Advantage

Some entry-level criminal justice careers only require a high school diploma or some college credits, but many organizations, including federal agencies, typically require a bachelor’s degree. (For example, FBI and DEA special agent applicants are often college graduates.) Even if not required, a bachelor’s degree can help you stand out to employers and advance to supervisory or administrative roles.

Well-Paying Positions

Criminal justice bachelor’s degree graduates can secure a variety of well-paying positions, such as correctional treatment specialists, emergency management directors, and police officers. The median annual wage, according to, for these careers are:

Steady Job Outlook

There is always a demand for competent professionals to protect our country and its citizens because there are always risks to the public’s safety. Employment of correctional treatment specialists is projected to grow 4 percent from 2014 to 2024.

Job openings in this area should be plentiful because many people leave the occupation each year. Employment of police officers is also projected to grow 4 percent from 2014 to 2024, and the continued desire for increased public safety is expected to lead to new openings.

Employment of emergency management directors is projected to grow even faster, by 6 percent from 2014 to 2024.

Nationwide Opportunities

Though every state needs experienced criminal justice professionals, you may earn a higher salary and have more job opportunities in certain states and cities. Across the board, California has the highest employment level for correctional treatment specialists, emergency management directors, and police officers. Correctional treatment specialists can earn $81,720 a year in California, while police officers can earn $93,550 a year. Emergency management directors can make $114,230 a year in the state, but they may fare best in Washington, D.C., where the annual mean wage for this occupation is $129,110. While these figures represent a small subset of criminal justice careers, salaries can vary depending on education, experience, and geographic location.

Flexible Learning Options

Today’s students are often juggling many responsibilities, and they need options to attend and be successful in school. Based on your schedule and needs, you can choose day, evening and weekend, or online classes — so you can stay in your current job while you prepare to move forward in a fulfilling criminal justice career.

Criminal Justice Infographic