If you’re enjoying a rewarding career in the criminal justice field or are in another career path and think a switch to criminal justice might be what you’re looking for, a master’s degree could give you the leg up to make a change. With a master’s degree in criminal justice, existing officers can seek promotions while those looking to enter the field with an undergrad in something else can get the necessary training. Is this additional grad training worthwhile? Here are seven reasons why it is.
1. Open Doors to Multiple Career Options
If you’re thinking that an MS in criminal justice is just for those considering a career as a police officer, think again. The field has many different positions available, including some high-level roles that require a grad degree. With an MS in criminal justice, you can work or further your leadership opportunities as a:
- Police officer
- Victim’s rights advocate
- Case manager
- Forensic tech
- Homeland security professional
While working as a police officer is possible with this degree—along with academy training and certification—it’s not the only option. By earning an advanced degree and choosing the right concentration, you’ll help expand your career opportunities.
2. Increase Chances of a Promotion
An advanced degree in any field means more likelihood of getting a promotion, and law enforcement is no exception. With an advanced degree, you’re often on a faster track to promotions when they’re available. If you’re already working in law enforcement and want to position yourself for the best chance at success, consider an online criminal justice master’s as the route to get you there.
3. Gain Niche Expertise
Undergrad degrees in criminal justice typically provide a broad overview of the subject. Pursuing a master’s gives you the chance to delve into a specific niche or specialty.
For example, if you want to get out of the field and start working in the administrative sector, you can pursue a master’s in Criminal Justice Administration. Master’s in criminal justice administration jobs are typically less risky than jobs in the field, and they often offer more potential pay. The right grad training can position you for this. Similarly, if you love the field, you can earn an MS in criminal justice with a focus on detective work and continue doing what you do best but now in a leadership role.
The world of law enforcement has multiple niches to consider, including areas like:
- Cyber forensics – This section of law enforcement focuses on investigating and prosecuting crimes that happen on computers or over the internet. This is a growing field that’s in high demand as cybercriminals become increasingly effective.
- Administration – Administration professionals work to create policy and ensure it is applied properly. This niche focuses not on the crimes or the criminals who commit them but on the justice system and its response to crime.
- White-collar crimes – White-collar crimes are those committed by nonviolent criminals. This might include fraud and embezzlement. Criminal justice professionals who investigate this area need strong detective skills.
- Criminology – This focus delves into the study of crimes and criminals, helping students understand why criminals do what they do.
4. Improve Your Skills & Your Ability to Deal with Complex Issues
Perhaps you’re not worried about a big career change or promotion. Maybe you love what you already do but want to do it better. When you invest in a criminal justice master’s degree, you can improve your ability to protect and serve your community. Enrolling in a criminal justice master’s program online makes it possible to do this without taking time off to do so.
A truly comprehensive master’s degree program will also offer a well-rounded look at the trends facing the industry today. It will provide a blueprint on how to stay up to date in the future. And it will offer insights into resources and tools criminal justice professionals can use to deal with the complex issues that can affect their lives—from mental health to social change.
5. Give Yourself the Option to Teach
Have you ever considered a role as a criminal justice educator? To teach people pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degree in the field, you must have a master’s degree. Whether you want to start a full-time career in education or just want to teach some classes on the side, the first step is the right degree. With advanced training, you can impart what you’ve learned in the field and in the classroom to the next generation of law enforcement professionals.
6. Increase Earning Potential
With leadership roles and promotion opportunities come increased potential pay. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that people with a master’s degree earn, on average, $12,000 more a year than those with just a bachelor’s degree. Social service, which can include many criminal justice careers, is one of the career fields where workers earn significantly more with a grad degree. While your mileage may vary, the numbers show that a master’s degree typically means higher income potential.
7. Learn Criminal Justice Tech
The world of criminal justice has come a long way since its inception. Gone are the days when a magnifying glass in one hand and a gun and handcuffs in the other is what the typical detective looks like. Today, criminal justice pros use a lot of tech to get the job done. Knowing how to use that tech requires some training. Getting a graduate degree in criminal justice gives you the chance to explore some of that technology a little more deeply so you’re better prepared for work in the field and in the office.
If you’re passionate about making your community a safer place, working in criminal justice lets you turn that passion into a rewarding career. If it’s time to advance that career through grad school, consider an online criminal justice master’s program. This will give you the flexibility to pursue your grad training on your own time, while you continue working to protect your community.
If you’re interested in earning a master’s degree in criminal justice, and want the flexibility of an online program, consider enrolling at Hilbert College. Learn what Hilbert can do for you by contacting admissions or clicking here for more information.