To become a police officer do you need to major in criminal justice?
Hello. I agree with Gary in that you do not need to major in CJ, but you should at least take some CJ classes in college. You might want to look into local cadet/explorer programs as these will give you some practical experience and exposure to just what being a police officer entails. Always keep in mind that Police Departments are looking for well-rounded candidates who have backgrounds in different fields and doing a good job as a cadet/explorer or police volunteer would definitely be a plus. Also, you might find that while you're working in law enforcement that you want to have a side business to build up on that retirement, (or as Gary says, a different are of LE) so a knowledge base in another field might come in handy. And keep in mind that a career in law enforcement can end just as quickly as it begins, so you want something that you can fall back on. I was lucky enough to make it 30 years with barely a scratch, but I have friends who had their careers end after they got hurt and others who decided (for various reasons) that they could not or did not want to continue on the LE path. Good luck to you!
If your main goal is to be a Police Officer, I would suggest majoring in Criminal Justice.
Some things to consider:
Your degree as a "criminal justice major" itself says that your goal IS a career in the Law Enforcement Field (Police Officer, Probation Officer, Corrections Officer, Deputy Sheriff, Special Agent, ect... ) If you were an employer looking to hire someone for a law enforcement position, would you look closer at a candidate that has a degree in: "liberal arts", "sociology" or criminal Justice??
SOME police departments give financial incentives, to officers that have earned a college degree "in their related field of employment." For example, in Massachusetts, if you have a Degree in Criminal Justice or Political Science, SOME police departments add an extra 10% to your base pay if you have an associates degree, An extra 20% if you have a bachelors degree, and an extra 25% if you have a Master's Degree. This varies state to state, and department to department.
When seeking a promotion in the law enforcement field, your education (and field of study) is a factor.
I would also suggest that if possible, you minor in another field of study that interests you. For example; if you minor in photography, it could help you:
- If an assignment as a "police department photographer" opens up, you now have the experience to apply for that assignment.
- You could work as a photographer when you retire from law enforcement!
Ricardo, I hope this bit of information helped answer your question.
Shoot for the Stars......
Anything Is Possible!!
A criminal justice degree for a police officer in today's world is a lot like a HS diploma, you graduated from your HS, but no one is looking at you because everyone has the same piece of paper as you do. If you want to get a degree (remember depending on the department or in the federal government where I am currently a police officer, you do not always need a degree just 60 college credits.) get one in Homeland Security. This degree goes far into more than what a degree in CJ will ever go. Look into explorer or internships for the government here is the website www.usajobs.gov. type internships in the keywords box and it will populate with all the internships for the different agencies
Shawn J Pickett
The most important thing is to be able to articulate your thoughts in written form. A college degree in just about anything should hone your writing skills. The course work for a criminal justice degree usually gives a broad overview of the criminal justice system. The broad overview doesn't necessarily make one person more prepared to become a police officer over someone with a degree in another discipline. You will learn how to be the police at the academy and through your experience in the field.
Hi- I agree with the above comments. I ran our recruitment team for years, and told all the applicants to get a degree in something else besides criminal justice. You will learn that in the police academy or on the street. What we want are people from a variety of backgrounds so that we can look at a problem from various angles. We have employees on our department with degrees in computer science, math, language arts, biology, physical ed, as well as a few lawyers.
Secondly, police work is your first career. You will probably have a second, so get it in what you will think you will be doing after police work if you are not sure. That way you have a backup plan. Finally- keep educating yourself. If you have a bachelor's degree, get a masters, etc.
As a retired Police Chief, I agree with Gary and Robert. Truthfully a degree in CJ is a dead end degree if you venture outside of law enforcement. Minor in it and take something like Business Management or Business Administration. Either of those are flexible enough to offer you opportunities in law enforcement as well as many other professions.
Education is always a good thing and a major in criminal justice would greatly help you. Anything you can do to make yourself a better candidate will enhance your chances.
A Criminal Justice degree can't hurt, but frankly if you go into policing as a career, you'll earn a Criminal Justice degree on the job. My advice would be to spend your money and time earning a different degree in college.
Alexander Rohrer, M.A.
You do not need to major in criminal justice. You can major in a variety of things (business, government, psychology, sociology, social work). I would recommend taking some criminal justice/criminology courses to have a basic understanding of the criminal justice system. I studied Psychology and also interned with a Police department.
I think it will help to major in Criminal Justice, but it is not necessary. For example, you can minor in CJ and just take a few courses and they major in something else if you wanted to. There are other jobs in law enforcement besides working as a police officer - dog handler, recruiter, trainer, forensics, management, etc.
I would suggest checking with your local police dept or sheriffs dept for programs that can help you learn about police and a law enforcement career.