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What majors besides criminal justice will help in law enforcement?

I am in 10th grade at Boston Collegiate Charter School and I am interested in a career involving law enforcement. I want to become a U.S. Marshall or something along that path, but I have read in previous questions about law enforcement that a major in criminal justice will not help much. I was thinking major in criminology, sociology, or even social work would help me but I am not sure. Any thoughts would be appreciated, thank you very much.


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Jeff’s Answer

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Hi Mya-


Those posts are correct in that most larger police departments and federal law enforcement agencies do not look for law enforcement degrees are they are repetitive, as most of that information will be taught in the academy. That being said two things you should consider when looking for a different type of degree other than law enforcement.


The first is what type of degree will benefit my career and give me a step up on other candidates for the job. For example, the FBI is looking for foreign language speakers, particularly middle eastern dialects. They also are looking for computer sciences, accountants, etc. The same can be said for other federal agencies. As crime becomes more and more technologically orientated, you can see how those degrees and specializations would help you out.


With that being said, you also want to get a degree in what interests you, and also what can help you in a future career. Most cops and federal officers have second careers doing something else when they retire in their 50's. It could also help you out in that area as far as future planning.


Honestly, at our department, we really don't want a LE degree. We would rather have it in something else, as it gives a different perspective when looking at a problem. We have people with degrees in; law, sociology, math, accounting, biology, physical ed, teachers, lawyers, etc.


Hopefully this helps you-


Lt Jeff Adam
Elgin Police Department


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Kim’s Answer

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Mya,
I was the first female officer in our dept to make it to retirement. (assuming you are a female..), if so, be aware of this - many do not stay in law enforcement, so a fallback plan is essential. I now work in job placement, and can tell you that the type of degree is not as important as other things.


Develop good people skills, keep your character above reproach: careful on social media, protect your credit rating, watch who you hang out with, and avoid drugs. Be careful with tattoos and piercings. Also keep yourself physically conditioned. Develop strong self-confidence. All of these are things that will keep you from getting hired.


My degree was in Sociology, but any degree will do. Make sure it is something you like, and get good grades! Best of luck!


Thank you for your advice. I was wondering how was it being a female officer? Is it any different from male officers? Mya N.

All Rookies have to prove themselves. Every officer wants to know that you can handle things. They don't like tattletales, people who are easily offended, or those who don't respond to calls quickly enough.<br> Law enforcement still has gray areas. The guys will hit on you. It's up to you to put a stop to it, laugh it off, etc. If things get really bad, of course, you report it. And, if you report someone, there's a chance you will find yourself without backup on calls. I know you are young, and maybe I should not say this, but it is the truth. So try hard to get along with everyone. The scary part of law enforcement now days is that you have to assume that every action you take, and everything you say and do, is recorded. I'm not sure I could operate in that environment. Kim Igleheart

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Michael’s Answer

If you are considering career in law enforcement, I would major in Criminal Justice.


I have 2 in college right now, and suggested they complete all their liberal arts courses first, which are needed for all degrees. This will allow you additional time to decide what you want to major in.


Many law enforcement agencies offer ride-along programs. This would allow you to see first-hand what is involved in the kind of job you are interested in.


Depending on your situation (financially, time to commit, ect) I would consider a double major, a minor, or a certificate in another subject other than Criminal Justice, THAT INTERESTS YOU AS WELL.


This would come in handy if you have obtained a career in law enforcement, and want to apply for a specialist position within your law enforcement organization.


For example, if you love photography, minor or obtain a certificate in photography. If an opening arises for a crime scene photographer, you have the knowledge, training and experience to apply for that specialist position, and would have an edge over many that apply that DON'T have the same knowledge experience & training. After you retire, you could use your experience, and become a law enforcement consultant, who specializes in photography.


Another example: If psychology interests you, minor in that. In the law enforcement field, you deal with so many types of people. This cold only help you, and open up opportunities later on after you retire, to possibly become a counselor, case worker ect.


Some Police Departments have a career incentive program where you earn an extra percentage in your weekly paycheck, based on your college degree. The police dept. I work for offers an extra 10% if you have an associates degree , 15% if you have a bachelors degree, and 25 % if you have a masters degree. The degrees must relevant to your employment, such as a degree in criminal justice, political science ect.


Hope this helps you...
Wish you the best, in your future endeavors!


Best Regards,
Michael Blanchette


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Scott D.’s Answer

Most of the federal law enforcement agencies like the Marshall's service require a college degree but they generally do not specify what major is required. In the long run, probably the best major if you are looking for a long career with upward mobility will be one in some form of management. Look for majors in public administration or better yet, business administration. If you end up deciding that a career in law enforcement is not for you down the road, the business degree is very marketable. It also has content that promotional processes will address.


Thank You! Mya N.

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Mike’s Answer

I disagree that a C J major will not help. Any class and/or degree in your field of choice will help.


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George’s Answer

Mya,


The previous posts are right on target. I retired after 21 years in Army Intelligence then went on to retire again after 23 years with the DEA. I have worked closely with the FBI, HSI and the USMS, all of these federal agencies look for people with skills in foreign languages, computer science or finance and accounting. Having a degree in psychology, business administration or other relevant field is also a good idea.


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Scott’s Answer

I have been in law enforcement for thirty-two years, I have been a field training officer and was a full time instructor at our police academy for ten years. I agree it would be best to major in something other than criminal justice. I would recommend any of the previously mentioned majors as well anything having to do with computer sciences, social sciences, or psychology. All of these majors will serve you well in the law enforcement field and in the public sector. Everything you need to learn know about law enforcement will be taught in the academy. It is smart to have a fall back plan in case something doesn't work out in law enforcement to include getting injured or secondary employment.


Thank you for the advice Mya N.

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Joshua’s Answer

Everyone who's posted is pretty much on target. When I speak to students who are interested in getting into Law Enforcement, I typically encourage them to get degrees in something other than Criminal Justice.


Something to think about: What if you get into Law Enforcement and discover it's not for you? Maybe you get hurt and have to medically retire? What if you can't get hired? With a degree in something other than Criminal Justice at least you'd be able to branch out into a different career. Also it can come into play after you retire. Many folks who retire from Law Enforcement after a long career may go into the private sector.


When it comes to other degrees? I'm a strong proponent of Business Administration degrees. You'll get incredibly valuable office and management skills that can come into play if you decide to go the Supervisor route. Just being able to be proficient in the Microsoft Office suite is a skill that will make you loved by your peers.


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Jeremy’s Answer

Mya,


A pre-law degree would be a great degree to start a career in law enforcement. You need to know the law to enforce it properly.


There are plenty of other degrees you can obtain as well that may assist you during your career in law enforcement. You are on the right path with your suggestions.


I have also found a site online that lists a few different degrees that would help.


http://www.businessresearchguide.com/degrees/best/careers-becoming/police-officer/


Good luck!


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