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Criminal Justice at WGU

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Are You Looking to Get a Criminal Justice Degree?

While a criminal justice degree program isn’t currently offered at WGU, there are other online bachelor programs that are similar and can still help you achieve your educational and career goals. A Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity or a Bachelor of Science in Accounting can be applied in the pursuit of a career in criminal justice. Graduates of these online programs can go on to have careers in cybersecurity, forensic accounting, intelligence analysis, and more.

Pathways to a Career in Criminal Justice.

Although entry-level positions such as security officers, dispatchers, and others require a high school education, many jobs in the criminal justice field call for a bachelor’s degree. Students who choose a criminal law or criminal justice program can go on to get jobs in traditional law enforcement positions, like a police officer or corrections officer, or even higher profile positions in Homeland Security or other government organizations focusing on criminal law. However, there are many other online programs to consider that can give you the skills needed for a career in criminal justice. For instance, a growing number of positions in law enforcement require specialized education in areas like finance, accounting, computer science, or cybersecurity. This is where a degree in accounting or cybersecurity can be useful.


Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity

Every day, hundreds of new cybersecurity jobs in criminal justice are added to job search engines. This is because cybersecurity is quickly becoming one of the most critical concerns for businesses and government agencies. For those interested in both computer science and criminal justice, a degree in cybersecurity can prepare you a variety of career options. 

An online bachelor's degree in cybersecurity typically covers topics such as computer networking and security, scripting and programming, data management, best practices in systems and services, and data management. It also prepares students for how to investigate traditional crimes with digital methods. 

Here are just some of the jobs in criminal justice a cybersecurity degree can help prepare you for: 

  • Information assurance auditor

  • Information security officer

  • Computer forensic specialist

  • Malware analyst

  • Security systems engineer

  • Cybersecurity consultant

Explore online bachelor's degree options if you're interested in becoming a criminal justice professional. A cybersecurity degree in an online program could be a perfect fit.

Bachelor of Science in Accounting

With so much money changing hands online, the need for people with financial competency has never been greater—especially in the world of law enforcement and within the criminal justice system. If you have a knack for numbers and an interest in solving financial crimes, an accounting degree program can prepare you for a future as a criminal justice professional.

This kind of online bachelor's program will give you a great overview of essential accounting principles, giving you important skills that can make you a great asset to an employer. You’ll cover a wide variety of topics such as auditing, business law, financial recording, and taxes, all of which can prepare you for the growing field of investigations and financial crimes.

Career options in criminal justice for graduates with an accounting degree include:

  • Financial examiner

  • Fraud investigator 

  • Forensic accountant 

  • Forensic accounting manager

If you're interested in working in the criminal justice system, an online bachelor's degree in accounting could help you pursue the kind of career you're looking for.

Spreadsheet and calculator

$59,891

is average annual salary for criminal justice job, according to Zip Recruiter.

Careers in Criminal Justice

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Criminal justice is a diverse field that can open doors to jobs in law, national security, forensics, criminal law, and more. Many law enforcement jobs offer salaries above the national average, and a bachelor’s degree can certainly help you make even more money. What’s more, the demand for professionals in the criminal justice system is only getting greater. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the number of criminal justice job openings is projected to grow by 5% from now until 2029, which is faster than the national average. 

If you’re interested in some of the more specialized roles in law enforcement, it’s important to understand the kind of education you might need, as well as the tasks and responsibilities you’ll be carrying out day-to-day.

What does a lawyer do?

Lawyers advise clients on their legal rights and can represent them in both criminal and civil cases. They conduct research on legal issues and interpret laws, regulations, and rulings. Lawyers are also qualified to draw up legal documents like wills, deeds, and contracts. This career requires a bachelor’s degree, then a juris doctor (JD) degree from a school of law. Admission to the vast majority of law schools requires first taking the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). 

What does an information security analyst do?

Information security analysts protect online networks and systems to prevent, monitor, and stop attacks on private data. They typically work in the public sector for businesses and corporations, where their job is to install new safety systems, create and implement firewalls, report on security breaches, and stay up to date on security trends. A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or a related field is typically the education required for someone in this role.

What does a criminal investigator do?

Criminal investigators work with police departments, states, or the FBI to gather facts and collect evidence to help solve cases. They use the information they collect (either from computers or on the field) to prepare criminal complaints and testify in court. Some of the day-to-day duties of a criminal investigator can include interviewing witnesses, writing detailed case reports, filing records, or obtaining warrants. Criminal investigators generally need a college degree in accounting, criminal justice, criminology, forensic science, or a similar field. While a criminal justice program may be specifically required, it will depend on the type of investigating you want to pursue.

 

31%

career growth of information security analysts is projected to grow by 31% from now to 2029, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

What does a forensic accountant do?

Forensic accountants are like financial detectives. They investigate incidents such as insurance fraud, bribery, embezzlement, and money laundering by sifting through financial records, tracing assets, and gathering evidence. Forensic accountants can be found in all kinds of organizations, including government agencies, insurance companies, financial institutions, consulting firms, and more. A traditional or online bachelor's or master's degree in forensic accounting, accounting, finance, or a related field is required for forensic accountants. Additional education in a criminal justice program or law enforcement training is a plus.

What does an FBI agent do?

Sometimes referred to as special agents, FBI agents work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They collect evidence, interview witnesses, identify suspects. These agents usually specialize in a specific area such as cybercrime, terrorism, murder investigations, or organized crime, just to name a few. Careers in federal law enforcement require a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, accounting, cybersecurity, or a related field and some agents must also complete specialized training.

What does a police officer do?

The job of a police officer is to protect their community by fighting and preventing crime, as well as maintaining law and order. A day in the life of an officer might include patrolling neighborhoods, responding to emergency situations, interviewing victims and witnesses, collecting evidence at crime scenes, and arresting suspects. Most law enforcement positions, like a police officer, require a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related degree.

What does a fraud investigator do?

Fraud investigators uncover cases of financial fraud by analyzing financial data. They also conduct interviews with witnesses and suspects to build evidence in fraud cases, and sometimes they can be called on to testify in court. Accounting, law enforcement, and insurance are some common fields where fraud investigators work. Many of them have a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or a similar field.

What does a computer forensic specialist do?

Also referred to as forensic investigators, forensic specialists work with local, state, and international law enforcement to recover data or evidence from digital devices. They use software programs and cybersecurity techniques to retrieve deleted files or corrupted information. A bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity or computer science is typically required for this job. 

What does a criminal investigator do?

These types of investigators specialize in solving criminal cases such as robbery, homicide, tax evasion, and more. Criminal investigators conduct surveillance, look for evidence, prepare reports, and question suspected criminals, crime victims, and witnesses. They usually work for government agencies, such as a local law enforcement agency or the FBI, but can also work in the private sector. Criminal investigators commonly have a bachelor’s in criminal justice, cybersecurity, or a similar degree.

Why choose WGU?

Why should you choose a WGU online accounting or cybersecurity degree over a degree program somewhere else? For starters, we’re dedicated to helping our students achieve their educational goals by providing flexible online degree programs that fit their lifestyle. But that’s just the start. Here are several reasons a WGU degree is a great fit for students.

  • We make it affordable to earn your degree. Our tuition is charged per six-month term, not per credit, so graduating faster costs less. 

  • Along with our already-low tuition, our scholarships and financial aid make college even more affordable for even more students. 

  • Thanks to our competency-based education, you can pass courses by proving what you know, meaning you can accelerate your program and graduate faster. 

  • Our degree programs are designed with your employment and success in mind, so the skills you learn will translate directly to your work post-graduation. 

They're Prepared

95% said that their WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs

95% of employers said that WGU graduates were prepared for their jobs.

They're Top Candidates

96% said they would hire another WGU graduate

96% of employers said they would hire another WGU graduate.

They Wow

98% of employers said WGU graduates meet or exceed expectations

98% of employers said WGU graduates met or exceeded expectations.

Source: 2020 Harris Poll survey of 300 employers

Which Degree Should You Choose?

Both a cybersecurity and accounting bachelor's degree at WGU can prepare you for a future career in criminal justice. Choosing either degree is a great alternative to a criminal justice degree program and can make sure you have training and credentials that will help you succeed.

Accounting – B.S. Business Administration

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?...

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?...

Have a knack for numbers or fine-tuning finances?

  • Time: 62% of graduates finish within 36 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,370 per 6-month term.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Accounting manager
  • Financial director
  • Vice president of finance and operations
  • Chief financial officer
  • Forensic accountant

Take your first step toward CPA certification and learn how to use GAAP, ledgers, and journals.

Cybersecurity and Information Assurance – B.S.

Protect your career and earning potential with this degree....

Protect your career and earning potential with...

Protect your career and earning potential with this degree.

  • Employer approval: 74% of graduates finish within 18 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,845 per 6-month term.

Some careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:

  • Cyber crimes investigator
  • Director of cybersecurity
  • Chief of cyber counterintelligence
  • Cybersecurity engineer
  • Cyber operations planner

Certifications included in this program at no extra cost include:

  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) - Associate of (ISC)2 designation
  • Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP) - Associate of (ISC)2 designation
  • ITIL® Foundation Certification
  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst Certification (CySA+)
  • CompTIA IT Operations Specialist
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Network Vulnerability Assessment Professional
  • CompTIA Network Security Professional
  • CompTIA PenTest+
  • CompTIA Project+
  • CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist
  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA Security Analytics Professional

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Criminal Justice Careers

If you decide to enroll as a full-time student in an undergraduate criminal justice degree program, it will take an average of four years to complete the degree requirements.

The trends in job growth and salary all point to the worthiness of a degree in criminal justice. However, depending on the kind of criminal justice career you want to pursue, an accounting or cybersecurity degree could be a better fit and provide you with more specialized skills.

The criminal justice field offers a number of high paying career options. As with any job, salary will vary greatly depending on your education and experience. According to Indeed.com, lawyers have the highest paying jobs in criminal justice with an average annual salary of $96,989.

Here are some of the most common jobs for criminal justice majors:

 

  • Police officer

  • Court reporter

  • Forensic technician 

  • Private investigator 

  • Corrections officer 

  • Psychological profiler

  • Parole officer

  • Paralegal 

When most people think about jobs in criminal justice, they likely think of the jobs listed above. While a degree in criminal justice can help you land those types of jobs, the opportunities don’t stop there. Exploring other degree options such as accounting, psychology, computer science, cybersecurity and more can open up a world of career opportunities in law enforcement. If you’re passionate about helping others, a career focused on criminal justice and law could be the perfect fit for you.