Become a Criminal Justice Teacher: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a criminal justice teacher. Research the education requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career teaching criminal justice.

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Should I Become a Criminal Justice Teacher?

These postsecondary teachers develop a syllabus for each criminal justice class assigned to them, according to the school's course standards. They plan lessons and assignments and then deliver instruction to students, in classrooms, online or in both formats. Teachers may also guide students outside the classroom and offer assistance during set office hours. Depending on the position, teachers may also be required to perform research and seek publication. Many postsecondary teachers' positions are part-time, especially those at smaller community colleges, and teachers may need to secure several positions to fill full-time work hours.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Corrections Admin
  • Corrections, Probation, and Parole
  • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
  • Criminal Science
  • Forensic Science
  • Juvenile Corrections
  • Law Enforcement Administration
  • Police Science and Law Enforcement
  • Securities Services Mgmt
  • Security and Theft Prevention Services

Career Requirements

Degree Level Doctoral degree is standard; community colleges may only require a master's degree
Degree Field Criminal justice or a related field
Experience Varies; employers typically look for applicants with related experience
Key Skills Writing, communication, critical-thinking and instructional skills
Salary (2014) $61,750 yearly (mean)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job postings from employers (November 2012)

Step 1: Enroll in a Bachelor's Program

Many colleges offer 4-year bachelor's degree programs in criminal justice or related fields, like criminology. Common subjects taught in these programs include psychology, sociology, criminology and criminological theory, United States law and various other topics devoted to the general study of criminal justice. These programs can prepare prospective teachers with the education needed to pursue a graduate degree.

Success Tip:

  • Complete an internship. Internship may be required or recommended in undergraduate degree programs. These internships can give students hands-on experience in criminal justice agencies as well as academic credit toward graduation. In addition to experience in a professional setting, students can also network with those in the criminal justice field.

Step 2: Obtain a Master's Degree

Pursuing a master's degree will first require meeting eligibility requirements, such as a minimum undergraduate GPA. Master's degree programs like the Master of Science in Criminology provide a stronger focus on the specific subjects of criminal justice and criminological theory. Classes might range from research to analysis to administration, as well as emphasize legal studies and forensic science. Seminars and lab work are a large part of the curriculum, and a greater exposure to professional experience is also incorporated.

Success Tip:

  • Gain teaching experience. Upon completion of a master's degree program, graduates may be able to find teaching jobs at 2-year colleges or vocational schools. Teaching experience is necessary for many positions at colleges and universities.

Step 3: Complete a Doctoral Program

To teach criminal justice at a 4-year college or university, a doctoral degree is a common requirement. Related programs include the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Criminology and Ph.D. in Criminal Justice. Primary coursework may place an emphasis on mastery of the criminal justice body of knowledge as well as development of skills in independent research, analysis and critical thinking. Students can also gain further professional development through seminars, lab work and real experience. The conclusion of the program requires completion of a doctoral dissertation, after which the doctoral graduate is considered an expert in the field of criminal justice.

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