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What is Criminal Justice?

Crime is an issue nationwide. It takes a huge variety of forms from robbery and/or assault to cyber-crime and embezzlement. And these problems exist in every state, affecting a number of industries through loss of worker productivity, loss of product or damage to product, and more.

Ohio’s largest industries include manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing and educational services, healthcare, and social assistance. Others include finance and insurance, retail and wholesale trade, professional services, construction and real estate, rental, and leasing. The revenues these industries earn range from $111.5 billion to $23.1 billion. However, as mentioned before, every industry can be vulnerable to crime. Small businesses and large alike might suffer from a cyber-attack or embezzlement. And all types of business must remain in compliance with laws that govern labor, taxes, and a number of other subjects.

A law enforcement officer, or police officer, is the most commonly thought of criminal justice professional. Other such professionals include investigators, correction workers, parole or probation officers, highway patrol, secret service, border and customs agents, and more.

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Online Criminal Justice Education in Ohio

Law enforcement officers may be called upon to investigate an embezzlement case or remove a disgruntled worker who has been fired. Law enforcement and criminal justice professionals are able to choose from several career options that can put them right at the center of the action or allow them to stay in the background, working as the backbone of investigations in a local police department or going through samples at a crime lab. Those looking for careers in law enforcement might be drawn to a career in juvenile justice, they may find employment within an Ohio family services agency or hope to work as a detective. Or they may decide to aim high and join a federal agency, such as the Homeland Security Department. There are a huge number of options for anyone considering a career in criminal justice.

Those involved in policing may work as plainclothes officers, detectives, and others. They are directly involved in responding to crimes and investigating them. They patrol streets and investigate minor crimes and robberies, as well as homicides, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and everything else the law covers.

Support personnel include many of those professionals in law enforcement who aren’t as visible to the community. They may work in forensics and analyze evidence, such as ballistics, or they may work as dispatchers, tracking events and sending officers to where they are needed.

Other professionals in law include court personnel such as bailiffs, paralegals, and others. Corrections personnel make sure punishment is administered to prisoners and also are meant to make sure that those prisoner’s rights are not violated. Other professionals include probation and parole officers. As you can see, there is a huge variety of options available to those interested in criminal justice.

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Online Associate Degree in Criminal Justice (AS)

Future students considering a career in criminal justice should earn, at minimum, an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice, or another related criminal justice degree. This type of associate degree program prepares students to work at the state or local levels, though those wishing to work at the federal level may need to earn at least a bachelor’s. No matter your long-term plans, this degree can give you insight into the field and help you decide where you want to work. As mentioned before, there are plenty of options.

In a two-year community college program, students better learn to communicate (oral and written), as well as techniques that allow them to communicate effectively in a wide range of professional roles and environments. You will likely need to complete around 60 credit hours, which will include general education courses and a number of core courses that cover your chosen major. If you attend a school that is properly accredited, you will have better access to federal financial aid and you may be able to transfer at least some of these credits when/if you choose to go on to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice (BS)

Students may prefer to transfer into a four-year program from their associate degree program rather than jumping right into their career, especially if they decide to work in law enforcement at the federal level or if they wish to find their way into law. Many universities allow for students to transfer up to 90 credit hours from an associate program. These completed associate degrees can be in police administration, law enforcement, corrections technology, or human services technology. Finding a supportive transfer program can mean the difference between starting your bachelor’s degree as a junior and starting over completely.

A bachelor’s degree usually requires that students complete around 120 credit hours to complete the program. The courses you take will depend on what program you choose, but they may include classes covering juvenile justice, the courts in the US, US law, criminology, forensics, and much more. Your core courses will be decided by what type of program you choose. These programs should help students to gain the qualifications for various criminal justice careers including those in law enforcement administration, police administration, probation and parole, adult/juvenile corrections, and forensic science.

Online Master's Degree in Criminal Justice (MS)

Graduate students majoring in criminal justice are often working professionals who continue working during the day while completing their classes at night, on the weekends, online in their down time, or however they can to get the education they need. The more flexible the degree program, the easier it will be to complete. Graduate programs in criminal justice or criminal justice administration can give graduates the chance to move their careers into leadership.

These degree programs cover subjects such as the criminal justice system, the ways society works to prevent crime from happening, corrections and corrections reform, and how crime happens. An online MBA degree may serve a graduate well if they plan to move upward into a management or administrative role. Graduate programs often aim to teach students strategic leadership skills, which can be useful in any profession.

Online PhD Degree in Criminal Justice (PhD)

PhD candidates who choose to earn their online doctorate in criminal justice may choose to engage in criminology research or another research focus in criminal justice. Candidates gain a solid foundation in criminal justice subjects at the highest level and learn a great deal about research methods of all kinds. These programs often consist of around 20 courses that make up the core requirements. Once the candidate has completed their core requirements, they may choose a specialization or concentration. Just some of the specialization areas available include crime prevention, policing, and corrections. Many doctoral degree programs also offer practicum courses in the process of research and teaching effectiveness before you ever begin your research and write your dissertation. After completing your dissertation, you will need to defend it to a panel in order to fully complete a doctoral program and receive your degree.

While there aren’t a huge variety of roles in criminal justice that require a doctoral degree, you may need one in law or to work as a tenure tack professor.

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Become a Criminal Justice Professional in Ohio

Ohio criminal justice professionals must meet specific requirements to work in a variety of roles, such as police officer or detective. For example, they must be at least 21 years of age, complete police academy training, have a high school diploma (though a higher degree will allow you to reach higher in rank), have no felony convictions, pass a background test, and more. Other roles, such as that of highway patrol officer or private investigator, have their own requirements. If you know what role you’d like to have, then you should research that role specifically with the state department that governs their rules and qualifications.

For those who already have the education they need, you might find that taking the time to participate in certificate courses can help to ensure that your education and knowledge will lead to a job offer. For instance, a professional in forensics might expand their skill set with a certificate in a new field. Someone who has worked in the corrections field may find that addiction is fueling much of the crime in their area and earn a certification in dealing with addictions before moving into a parole or probation role. Here are just some certifications that are available, though there are many more than these that work for specific roles or those who need specific types of knowledge.

  • Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP)
    Working with convicted criminals may not be easy. Add in addiction issues, and the job role becomes even more difficult. Law enforcement professionals who opt to earn a certification in addictions may find themselves more in demand than their peers because they understand people in a way their peers do not. This certification offers the chance to understand the thought patterns of a criminal who struggles with substance addictions.
  • Online Criminal Justice Graduate Certificate.

    This graduate certificate, requiring 16 credit hours, offers greater knowledge of the criminal justice profession, which can equip the professional to lead in making reforms or to confront today’s challenges in criminal justice.

    Professionals learn ethics, research, and theory, which equips them to work in criminal justice administration, as well as policy and program creation. This certificate is idea for professionals who are working in, or plan to work in public policy positions. Other professionals such as mental health professionals, social workers, and public health professionals may also benefit from this certificate.

Careers for Criminal Justice Graduates

  • Psychometrists
    A psychometrist administers psychological tests intended to diagnose mental illnesses, learning disabilities, and other mental health issues. Psychometrists work with various testing methods which helps them to quantify different issues that may not be easy to measure, including personality and mental illness.
  • Forensic Accountant
    A forensic accountant can find critically needed evidence before it is lost. They do so by reviewing complicated accounting data and following the trail of money to discover who has been stealing it, where it has gone, and whether or not it can be recovered.
  • Paralegal
    A paralegal works under an attorney’s supervision. their work may include research, interviews, and document creation and filing. This work is combined with the documents an attorney produces in order to ensure that everything dealing with a case is tracked and efficient. A paralegal does much of the legwork for an attorney - they find witness, interview them, and may even ensure regular contact with clients.

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  • Social Work
    Social workers can work in several environments. They may focus on community social work, helping to better the community; they may work in a mental health facility, offering counseling to clients (depending on their level of licensure); they may work for the rights of underserved populations, helping them access unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, or disability payments; or they may work for child protective services, helping families whose children are in foster care or helping children to get out of dangerous situations.
  • K9 Officer
    A K9 officer partners with a trained dog and aims to catch criminals and enforce laws. This officer and their canine partner may work at any level of law enforcement — local, state, and federal — and even in the military. K9 officers may also be found in the Drug Enforcement Agency, Transportation Security Administration, or Customs and Border Patrol. In all situations, these officers make use of the fact that dogs can be trained to sniff out drugs, dead bodies, and more.
  • Homeland Security Professional
    Homeland security professionals focus on the protection of our nation and the people within its borders. These professionals may be employed in infrastructure protection, emergency management, intelligence analysis, information security and law enforcement, among others.
  • Victim Advocate
    The job of a victim advocate is to work with and support victims of crime. They offer emotional support to victims, as well as victims’ rights information. They help to fill out forms, find resources the victim may need, and go with victims and their families to court hearings and other criminal justice proceedings.
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
    A substance abuse counselor is a qualified, licensed mental health professional. They focus their efforts on helping people who struggle with substance abuse or drugs or alcohol. Part of their duties include evaluating the mental and physical health of their clients and offering support to their clients and their families or caregivers.
  • Police Officer
    Police officers investigate crimes and enforce laws. They can do so at several levels, from patrolling neighborhoods or highways to interviewing victims or suspects, arresting suspects and transporting them to jail or hearings, gathering and tagging evidence, and responding to both emergency and non-emergency situations.

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