Earn your online degree in criminal justice administration to advance in the justice division of civil service. As a justice administrator, you may work for local, state or federal agencies. You may be particularly interested in supervising criminal justice fields, such as prisons, police bureaus, victim advocacy programs and terrorism units. Although the departments for employment vary, one thing all public administrators have in common: they manage government (aka public) entities and assets.
Administering a public entity is different from running a private company. Different rules of funding, accounting, hiring and contracting apply to government agencies as compared to private enterprises. These complex differences are a great reason why you may opt to earn an online degree in public administration, particularly if you seek a management position in a government criminal justice administration agency.
THE CAREER PATH
A criminal justice administration degree is geared to prepare you for public service. Classes will have more of a business and management focus–you’ll end up ready to tackle public policy and other justice issues. Many degrees also offer a criminal justice focus, which will allow you to pursue an administrative career in police work, law enforcement, or corrections. Common careers are:
- Corrections Officer—Also known as detention or parole officers, these officers oversee individuals in a jail, reformatory or penitentiary. Correctional officers maintain order and enforce rules and regulations. They monitor inmates’ activities and work assignments. They search inmates for contraband, such as weapons or drugs; settle disputes between inmates; and enforce discipline. They also inspect the facilities for contraband, fire hazards and tampering. Expect an average salary of $45,000 per year.
- Detective or Police Supervisor—Police and police supervisors protect people’s lives and property. They pursue and apprehend individuals who break the law. They also spend time writing reports and maintaining records. Detectives perform investigative duties such as gathering facts and collecting evidence, earning an average salary of $75,490. Detectives and criminal investigators earn an average of $60,910.
In civil service, salary levels are often pegged to degree attainment. Earning a public administration degree is a great way to meet the educational requirements for an increase in pay grade. The flexibility of an online program also suits the working lifestyle of many criminal justice employees.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
Because many federal agencies, like the FBI and other justice administrative agencies, value additional skills and experiences—such as knowledge of a foreign language, law, or outside work experience—coming from another career field will give you an advantage over entry-level applicants, provided you’re qualified educationally. Those with military backgrounds make ideal candidates for homeland security, immigration and related government security positions. Applicants with at least a bachelor’s degree in human services, public administration, criminal justice, criminology, law, legal studies, sociology, counseling, law enforcement, paralegal studies, justice administration and management, forensics, and the general social sciences will receive the best job offers and salary grades.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
Online public administration programs are available at all levels, ranging from certificates to doctorates. If you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree, you may want to consider the popular master’s of public administration (online MPA). The online MPA degree is targeted toward professionals whose career goals include the supervision of entire squads of security professionals or the management of correctional facilities.
You might benefit from an online administration degree program with an emphasis in justice studies, corrections, homeland security, juvenile social services or law enforcement. After graduating, you could be employed inside a prison, jail, juvenile detention center, military installation, legal aid agency or social services agency. If you’re interested in fighting crime or terrorism in a more material way, consider an online degree in criminal justice, criminology or homeland security.
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