Find a Criminal Justice School
Police officers often ask three
primary questions about receiving a criminal justice degree. What are the
benefits of a college education? Why should I pursue a degree in criminal
justice online? How can I be successful taking a criminal justice online course?
What are the benefits of a
The primary reason a police officer
should pursue a college education is because overwhelmingly, police officers
believe in leadership by example. More important than your leadership on the job
is your leadership at home. Almost all research indicates that college educated
parents produce college educated children. If you are working mid-career
professional, you need to make the sacrifice as an example to your children.
They will follow in your footsteps. As the leader you must also provide for
those at home.
According to police compensation consultants at POLICEPAY.NET, Inc., the average
hourly rate over a thirty year career for a police officer is about $27.78.
Thats it. Over 30 years youre going to make about a 1.5 million dollars. In
the meantime, some police officers are going to work a part-time job to pay for
the boat, or some other toy. And, most of the time, the part-time job falls well
below the regulation pay. But, what if someone offered you a part-time job,
guaranteed to pay $66 an hour, you work your own hours, but, the maximum you can
earn is $182,000? And, after you had completed this part-time job, other
opportunities paying more would come along.
A college education is an investment. According to many agencies across the
United States pay a college bonus or a bonus tied directly to holding an
intermediate or advanced Peace Officer Standards and Training certificate. For
instance, Whittier Police Department, in Whittier California, pays a 4% Bonus
for Intermediate POST Certificate and 5% Additional bonus for Advanced POST
Certificate. A college degree is tied directly to the POST certificates.
Earning a certificate requires a combination of years in service and college
credits. The more college credits, the few years in service.
Amazingly, the $66 an hour rate of return is calculated on the bonus equally 8%
(Whittier's is 9) paid out over the course of a 30 year career, and 15 years of
retirement. And, the $66 an hour calculation presumes you needed to complete an
entire 120 unit Criminal Justice degree. So, if you have some college, your rate
of return is probably higher.
Research the compensation issues. You will find that many Police Departments,
large and small, offer an incentive tied directly to the POST certificate or a
college degree. As examples, Beverly Hills Police Department offers 2% for an
Intermediate POST and 3% for an Advanced POST. Or, there is the City of Cotati,
California, offers a substantial above base salary bonus for a college degree.
Every shift you push that black and white around the beat without a college
degree you are losing money - a lot of money. While patrol is a great job, there
are many other great jobs in law enforcement. If you want to promote or get a
spot in a specialized unit a college degree is a real advantage. Indeed, Julie
Slama noted in an Federal Bureau of Investigation, Law Enforcement Bulletin,
that in many departments, officers need a college education to get promoted.
As you search for your path to a degree in criminal justice you should consider
that a Criminal Justice Online program offers you the flexibility to work your
part-time job almost anytime and anywhere. Criminal justice students often
make the leap to law school.
Why should I pursue a degree
in criminal justice online?
Beginning in the early 1980s, many police departments began to use Internet
Protocol based police technology. Police officers are very familiar with much of
the same technology that you need to obtain a criminal justice online degree.
Police officers use email, word processing, access listservs and they use
databases like the
Dell Computer Forensics service for research. These four technology proficiencies are the crux
success in obtaining a criminal justice online degree. You already have many of
the talents necessary to succeed.
Police work is a 24/7 operation. Your shift changes, you have extended
end-of-watch overtime because of arrest, and then court eats away at your time.
Your schedule demands you have flexibility in completing course work. An
criminal justice online degree gives you some of that flexibility. Working in
the online format you can access your course work, university websites and major
library collections online. Assigned to the desk for a shift? During lulls you
access your course work via your police departments internet connection. Got
court? Take your laptop to the waiting room and access the courts wireless
hotspot. Want coffee? Go to Starbucks and access their wireless hotspot. At
home? Turn off the television and access criminal justice online. Criminal
Justice Online is your anytime, anywhere, $66 dollar an hour part-time job.
How can I be successful
taking a criminal justice online course?
There are several good points that
can make your online college education smoother and more enjoyable. First,
research the college or university before you sign-up. Your choice in programs
is first dictated by their accreditation. You must use a regionally accredited
school. Do not use a nationally or unaccredited school. Regional accreditation
assures your Police Department will accept your degree as valid. Many Police
Departments do not recognize a nationally accredited degree. Go to the
accreditation website and read about the importance of accreditation. In
addition to your police department not accepting it, it probably is not
transferable and many masters programs will not accept anything but regional
accreditation. Get this Regional accreditation is the only way!
Enhance your skills before you start. While police officers have an advantage
because they are familiar with many of the technologies, you can hone your
skills before you start. Learn some of the advanced features of your word
processor. Your Criminal Justice Online course is going to require enhanced
skills at editing, saving, copying, etc. Learn how to use your email to attach
documents. As an example, you can go online now and use Document Processing
Tutorial & Practice, provided by a major university to learn many of the skills
you will need.
Many colleges and universities replace class discussions with what is called a
threaded discussion. Essentially, this is you and your classmates talking back
and forth through a forum. Threaded discussions, unlike chat rooms, can be done
at anytime. Your classmates pose a question, you respond when you have time.
Conversely, you respond to the class discussion at your convenience. You should
practice this skill. You can go to the Criminal Justice Forum and pose
questions, contribute to discussions and answer questions. The concept is for
you to learn how to use an online forum as a means of furthering an academic
discussion of an issue. Practice now will save you heart-burn later.
If someone in the street gave you an obvious bad name would you accept it? Of
course not. You would dig out the information. Just as you use your police
departments online databases to ferret out information on an offender, you
should learn to use the Internet and particularly academic locations for
research. As an example, you should read Conducting Research on the Internet.
Any good Criminal Justice Online program is going to have extensive access to
online databases of academically, peer reviewed articles. Whatever college or
university you choose, they should have an online library similar to the one at
the University of California, Berkley.
After your program you must plan your work and work your plan. Yes, it is
flexible. But, you still have to do the course work. On your first day of class
browse through the course requirements and assignments. What do you have to do
and how long to you have to do? Break the work up, giving yourself due dates on
small steps which lead to the conclusion of a requirement. For instance, if the
course requires a 7-10 page research paper be submitted during the last week of
the semester, begin now. Break it up. Give yourself five days to identify the
topic, do your research and gather the articles. Save the articles as files on
your computer or on a disk. When you have 15 minutes extra time you should work
the project. Waiting in the dentist office for your teenager to have the braces
fixed? Should you read the latest issue of Field and Stream or pop open your
laptop and get a quarter hour of reading done?
Make time and do it. You owe to your family, your police department and