Criminal justice is both a study and an academic field. In general, criminal justice is about the institutions and people who keep society in order by upholding laws and punishing people who break them in the right way. There are two levels of study for certificate programs in this field: vocational and post-masters. A vocational certificate looks at how the law is enforced and police work. A post-certificate master’s looks at criminal justice from a theoretical, academic point of view. The goal is to help the criminal justice system’s administrators do their jobs better.
A vocational certificate in criminal justice gets you ready for an entry-level job with the police or another criminal justice or security agency. Certificate programs are also a good way to learn about the field of criminal justice before starting a full-time undergraduate program. The courses and credits in a certificate program meet the requirements for many administrative jobs and some law enforcement jobs. But many law enforcement agencies won’t hire you unless you have an associate’s degree, which takes two years to complete.
Most certificate programs can be completed in one to two years of full-time study. You’ll learn about criminal law, criminal investigation, interviewing and writing reports, police systems, traffic law, ethics, etc. In an online program, you can take many of these classes through video lectures, and your grades will be based on how well you do on tests and projects.
Criminal justice professionals who already have a master’s degree but want to specialise in a certain area can get a post-certificate. If you already work in criminal justice and want to learn something new without getting another degree, you might want to get a certificate.
The length of graduate certificate programs varies, but most of them require 15 to 30 hours of course credit. These programs let you specialise in different areas of criminal justice, such as corrections, management and justice, behaviour analysis, federal law enforcement, executive police administration, and crime analysis. The online classes you take will be taught through live streaming or video conferencing.
What’s Next for People Who Have a Certificate in Criminal Justice?
With a vocational certificate in criminal justice, you might be able to work as a security officer or in law enforcement. The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics says that most police jobs require a high school diploma. Getting a certificate in criminal justice can make you more marketable for jobs like these. But the requirements for hiring vary from one agency to the next, with some needing more education and experience. You could do many things with a post-certificate masters in criminal justice. For example, a criminal justice certificate focusing on crime analysis could lead to a job as a criminal investigator or a crime intelligence analyst at a local or federal agency.
After getting a vocational certificate, you can get a bachelor’s in criminal justice to further your education. You can get a master’s degree in criminal justice or a related field like criminology or corrections. If you decide to get a post-certificate or master’s, you can also go on to get a doctoral degree and do more graduate study. Most levels of criminal justice degrees can be earned online, but it’s harder to find Ph.D. programs that are done online.