Criminal justice instructors are highly trained professionals with a doctoral or professional degree in the field of criminal justice. They usually have criminal justice or law enforcement experience.
Criminal justice is the study of crime, the legal system and how each relates to society as a whole. It is a multidisciplinary field, incorporating aspects of sociology, psychology, law, political science, history, philosophy, economics and other areas. Criminal justice instructors, generally seasoned professionals with significant experience in the field, provide education and training to students in academic and professional settings. These professionals may be required to hold a doctoral or professional degree in a related field, depending on where they teach.
|Required Education||Varies; doctoral or professional degree may be required|
|Other Requirements||Significant criminal justice and/or law enforcement experience|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||21% for all postsecondary criminal justice and law enforcement teachers|
|Mean Salary (2015)*||$64,460 for all postsecondary criminal justice and law enforcement teachers|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Most criminal justice instructors teach in academic settings in criminal justice departments, providing the knowledge and skills students need to pursue careers in law enforcement, corrections, law, the court system and nonprofit or social work. However, positions can also be found in professional and government settings, providing job training to employees of nonprofit or law enforcement agencies, correctional facilities or the court system.
Instructors may teach one class or several, usually within a specific area of criminal justice; for example, an instructor may teach courses about law enforcement at several levels or lead classes in specific issues facing law enforcement. This generally requires developing the course syllabus, preparing and delivering lectures and presentations, preparing course materials, leading discussions, grading assignments and tests and working with students to ensure understanding of the material.
Depending on the school and the terms of the instructors' contract, job duties may include responsibilities outside of the classroom as well, such as serving on committees, administering course evaluations, attending in-service trainings and meetings or advising individual students or organizations. For part-time instructors, some of these duties may be voluntary. Instructors may teach during daytime or evening hours; some teach online courses where applicable.
Instructors who work in professional settings, like local or state law enforcement agencies, may provide training in basic or specialized areas of law enforcement. Most instructors do not have to conduct significant amounts of original research or publish in academic journals, although doing so may be beneficial for those wishing to advance into high-level or full-time positions. Instructors need to follow developments in the criminal justice field in order to ensure that their instruction is relevant to students.
Salary and Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2015, criminal justice and law enforcement instructors made a mean annual wage of $64,460. The highest wages were found at colleges, universities and professional schools, which was also the largest employer of postsecondary criminal justice and law enforcement teachers.
Jobs for criminal justice and law enforcement teachers in the postsecondary setting are expected to grow by 21% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. The same source also predicts that growth in postsecondary teaching opportunities in general will be faster than average at 13% between 2014 and 2024, due in large part to expanding college enrollment, particularly in for-profit institutions for working adults. Competition is expected to be considerable for tenure-track positions.
Criminal justice instructors can teach classes about law enforcement procedures or issues within the justice system. They develop syllabi, deliver lectures, grade tests and host office hours for students seeking help outside the classroom.