Bachelor's degree programs in criminal justice prepare students for work in corrections administration, as well as a variety of other careers; these include law enforcement probation and private security. Applicants should have a high school diploma or equivalent. A bachelor's degree program typically takes four years to complete.
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Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
Students in Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice programs study several topics regarding crime and the justice system. Students interested in corrections can take electives focused on the corrections system. It is common for these programs to incorporate practical experience through internships or hands-on training with law enforcement technology. Material is presented in lecture and research-based courses. Common topics include the following:
- Criminal law
- Corrections systems
- Criminal behavior
- Issues in terrorism
- Internet crime
- Ethical issues in criminal justice
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
There were approximately 427,790 correctional officers and jailers employed in May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). Additionally, approximately 42,520 first-line supervisors of correctional officers were working at that time.
Between 2014 and 2024, employment for correctional officers was expected to grow by 4%, according to BLS figures. Job prospects are expected to remain favorable due to numerous factors, including a rise in population growth and the high turnover rate in the field; the latter factor is attributed to corrections work often being highly stressful, requiring shift work and involving low pay. As of May 2015, correctional officers and jailers had median annual wages of $40,530, with first-line supervisors of correctional officers earning median annual wages of $59,720 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Correctional officers and managers are required to possess a bachelor's degree. In addition, most complete on-the-job training or have a background in the military or law enforcement. Advancement into more senior administration roles for correctional officers typically comes through experience rather than education. However, for those seeking advanced study, a master's degree or Ph.D. in criminal justice may be pursued. Certification is not required for work in corrections.
While bachelor's degrees in correctional administration are uncommon, students who enroll in a bachelor's degree program in criminal justice and take elective classes focused on the corrections system can get the in-class and hands-on training needed to become first-line supervisors of correctional officers.