Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Florida

For students pursuing a criminal justice degree online, Florida offers many opportunities. The variety of available associate and bachelor’s programs in the field allows students to choose the program that best fits their needs. Florida offers plenty of employment opportunities in the criminal justice field, with the number of available positions continuing to grow. Florida is the third-most-populous state in the country, behind California and Texas, and is a popular tourist destination. The number of residents and tourists drives demand for criminal justice professionals.

Jobs for individuals with criminal justice degrees in Florida are plentiful and include positions in police departments, correctional facilities, and security positions. BLS

According to The Sun Sentinel, Florida’s economic outlook is stable and its GDP is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2018. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for individuals with criminal justice degrees in Florida are plentiful and include positions in police departments, correctional facilities, and security positions. These positions tend to pay well and often provide long-term job security. The BLS projects the demand for police officers and detectives will continue growing at a rate roughly equal to the national average, while the number of jobs for private detectives and investigators will increase at a faster-than-average rate.

Earning an Online Criminal Justice Degree in Florida

By earning an online criminal justice degree, Florida students prepare for a variety of promising careers. Online programs offer the flexibility to study at home and allow learners to fulfill personal and professional responsibilities while earning their degrees. Online learning is ideal for those with busy schedules and for students who do not live near a school that offers the program they need. Additionally, online learning is often more affordable than on-campus programs. Online tuition sometimes costs less, and distance learners save on fees and expenses such as campus housing, transportation, parking, and books.

Format and course delivery methods vary among online programs. Some programs are available fully online, while others require limited campus visits. Schools often allow online learners to choose the number of credits they take per semester, and others require learners to complete a certain number of courses each term. By understanding each school’s requirements, learners pursuing a criminal justice degree online in Florida can choose a program that fits their lifestyle.

Accredited Criminal Justice Programs in Florida

Before pursuing a criminal justice degree, Florida students should verify that their prospective school holds accreditation. Choosing an accredited program ensures that future employers will recognize your degree. Accreditation also indicates that a school or program meets set academic standards. A degree from an accredited school proves to potential employers that your education prepared you for your career. Additionally, most forms of financial aid require recipients to attend an accredited institution, and accredited schools only accept transfer credits from other accredited institutions.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges grants regional accreditation to Florida institutions.

The two main types of institutional accreditation are regional and national. Nonprofit universities typically hold regional accreditation, which is the most prestigious type. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges grants regional accreditation to Florida institutions. National accreditation is typically reserved for trade schools and for-profit institutions. Credits earned from nationally accredited schools rarely transfer to regionally accredited institutions. Programs may also hold specialized, field-specific accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education maintains a database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs.

Education and Training Requirements for Criminal Justice Professionals in Florida

Many entry-level jobs in criminal justice do not require a degree. However, after earning an online criminal justice degree, Florida professionals qualify for career advancement and higher salary potential. An associate degree in criminal justice makes graduates more competitive candidates for a variety of positions.

A bachelor’s degree in criminal justice qualifies graduates for careers as police detectives, fraud investigators, postal inspectors, and FBI or CIA agents. A master’s degree in criminal justice prepares students to pursue supervisory positions in policing, corrections, or security. Master’s degree holders can also enter specialized roles, such as positions in criminal profiling, forensic psychology, or criminology.

Some specialized positions require additional training. For example, many jobs in forensic science require scientific and medical training. Military experience is valuable training for many law enforcement positions, so veterans often find opportunities in the field.

Licensing, Registration, and Certification Requirements in Florida

Many criminal justice positions require certification, licensure, or registration. Specific requirements vary by position and location, and state licenses and registration do not always transfer between states. Regulations change often, so students should stay updated on the current requirements for their field and location. Applicants for most criminal justice-related positions must be at least 18 years old and pass a background check. Professionals who carry weapons must complete the required training and registration.

Applicants for most criminal justice-related positions must be at least 18 years old and pass a background check.

Individuals seeking positions as law enforcement, correctional, or probation officers in Florida must complete a basic training program and pass the State Officer Certification Examination. Those with previous certification in Florida or another state, and those who were military police officers, may request an exemption from basic training. Florida’s Division of Licensing oversees industries including private investigation, private security, and recovery services. The division offers a variety of relevant licenses and certifications, including licensure for concealed carry of firearms.

Certification generally indicates that the holder has completed relevant training, and a license is a government-issued document that allows an individual to legally perform an otherwise restricted job or activity. Licensure is typically mandatory, while certification is often optional.

Because criminal justice positions have different requirements, students should research necessary training, licensure, certification, and registration. In Florida, online criminal justice degrees are not a substitute for these requirements, but may be beneficial or even mandatory to completing them.

Career and Salary Expectations

According to the BLS, a total of 235,240 Florida residents work in protective services occupations. The mean hourly salary for these jobs is $19.94, and the mean annual salary is $41,480. However, wages vary widely by occupation. Positions that require more education, training, or experience tend to pay higher salaries. As Florida’s population grows, communities require more criminal justice professionals.

After earning an online criminal justice degree, Florida residents often pursue careers as police officers, firefighters, private investigators, and security guards. Graduates also secure jobs as probation officers, lawyers, paralegals, and correctional officers. The tables below highlights the average wages for criminal justice professionals in the state.

Protective Services Occupations in Florida

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Fire Inspectors and Investigators800$31.47$65,460
Detectives and Criminal Investigators6,240$35.67$74,180
Fish and Game WardensN/AN/AN/A
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers38,770$28.08$58,400
Private Detectives and Investigators3,840$21.36$44,420
Security Guards84,840$12.09$25,150
Transportation Security Screeners4,750$19.32$40,200
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Florida

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists3,580$16.75$34,840
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates1,230$78.22$162,690
Paralegals and Legal Assistants27,460$23.61$49,110
Court Reporters1,380$24.14$50,210
Correctional Officers and Jailers33,730$20.51$42,670
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Florida

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians1,420$24.33$50,620
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary1,010N/A$68,370
Source: BLS, May 2017

Scholarships and Financial Aid

To fund an online criminal justice degree, Florida residents have access to a variety of scholarships. Some awards are reserved for criminal justice students, and others support learners at Florida schools. Below are scholarships options for students pursuing criminal justice degrees in Florida.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

Crimcheck Criminal Justice Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: Applicants must submit an essay, must have a minimum 3.0 GPA, and must be enrolled full or part time in a criminal justice program. Applicants can also be graduating seniors who have been accepted to a criminal justice program. View Scholarship

Jim and Anna Hyonjoo Lint Scholarship $1,500

Who Can Apply: This award supports students planning to pursue careers in national security, counterintelligence, or international affairs. Applicants must be enrolled in a criminal justice or related program and must submit an essay. Winners receive a mentorship with a professional in the field and a cash prize, which recipients can apply toward tuition and fees. View Scholarship

My Alarm Center Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must write an essay on a given topic related to law enforcement. Applicants must be graduating seniors or college freshmen or sophomores studying criminal justice, law enforcement, or a related field. Family members of My Alarm Center staff are not eligible to apply. View Scholarship

Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship $1,000-10,000

Who Can Apply: The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners offers scholarships for students pursuing careers in anti-fraud professions, such as fraud examination. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited, four-year program and must be majoring or minoring in criminal justice or a related field, such as accounting, finance, or business administration. View Scholarship

WIFLE Scholarship $2,500

Who Can Apply: The Women in Federal Law Enforcement Foundation offers scholarships to students at two- and four-year colleges. Applicants must have completed at least one year of college, must have at least a 3.0 GPA, and must be majoring in criminal justice or a related field. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Florida Residents

Florida Student Assistance Grant (FSAG) Program At least $200

Who Can Apply: This program awards need-based scholarships to Florida residents enrolled in post-secondary institutions in the state. Applicants must have a minimum 2.0 GPA, must not hold a previous baccalaureate degree, and cannot be in default or owe repayment under another state or federal financial aid program. View Scholarship

Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Program Varies

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be Florida residents, must hold a high school diploma or the equivalent, must have been accepted to an eligible degree or certificate program in Florida, and must not have been convicted of a felony charge. The program awards scholarships based on academic performance, institution type, and specific degree. View Scholarship

Horatio Alger State Scholarship Up to $10,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be high school seniors who demonstrate financial need. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, must have a minimum 2.0 GPA, must have a record of community service involvement, and must demonstrate a desire to earn a bachelor’s degree and a willingness to overcome challenges. View Scholarship

Ralph H. and Ruth Frank Gross Memorial Scholarship $500-2,500

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is awarded to Florida residents who have not received another scholarship or grant. Applicants must plan to attend a university, college, or a vocational school in the state. Recipients must agree not to use tobacco products or illegal drugs, abuse alcohol, or join a social fraternity or sorority while benefiting from the award. View Scholarship

Salute to Education Scholarship $1,500

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports students graduating from high schools in Miami-Dade or Broward County who have a minimum 3.0 GPA. The selection committee considers each applicant’s financial needs, academic success, character, ability to overcome obstacles, community service involvement, and leadership ability. View Scholarship

Resources for Criminal Justice Students in Florida

Law Enforcement Agencies in Florida

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations provide resources for students and professionals. These organizations offer educational opportunities and keep members apprised of the latest research in the field. Professional organizations often host meetings and provide print materials, online resources, and career services. Most professional organizations offer resources for students, and some focus specifically on helping students excel in their field. Many national organizations have local or regional chapters that provide in-person networking opportunities.

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences

ACJS is a professional organization devoted to research, education, and policy analysis. The organization serves criminal justice professionals, students, and scholars.

Alph​a​ Phi Sigma: The National Criminal Justice Honor Society

Alpha Phi Sigma promotes strong academic performance among criminal justice students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The organization maintains chapters at schools across the country, including several major universities in Florida.

American Correctional Association

Founded in 1870, ACA is the oldest association for prison and corrections professionals. The association unites professionals from the public and private sectors to improve the justice system.

American Criminal Justice Association (Lambda Alpha Epsilon)

ACJA-LAE provides a voice for criminal justice professionals and students and improves criminal justice procedures through education and training. The organization also encourages high standards of ethics and conduct.

American Society of Criminology

ASC promotes the scientific study and measurement of crime and delinquency, their causes, and the efficacy of potential solutions. The organization’s divisions focus on specific areas of study related to criminology

American Academy of Forensic Sciences

AAFS improves the use of science in the legal system. The organization works to increase collaboration; improve scientific practices; and promote continued education, integrity, and professionalism.

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