Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Idaho

Criminal justice is a broad field with a number of different branches. The court system, corrections, and legal and protective services all work in concert to uphold law and order for a given jurisdiction. Earning a criminal justice degree online in Idaho can prepare graduates for careers that serve their communities, including as state troopers, lawyers, or forensic scientists. Several criminal justice degrees in Idaho are available on campus and online at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Earning a criminal justice degree online in Idaho can prepare graduates for careers that serve their communities, including as state troopers, lawyers, or forensic scientists.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that criminal justice jobs will grow at an average to above-average rate over the next decade, depending on the career. Given the strength of the economy in Idaho, growth across most industries -- including criminal justice -- is expected to continue. Idaho's economy currently averages a low unemployment rate of 2.9%, while its labor force participation holds steady at 64%, approximately 1.2% higher than the U.S. average.

Online criminal justice degrees in Idaho offer a wide selection of programs, and provide students with an affordable, flexible, and convenient education. There are 15 degree-granting institutions in Idaho -- seven public colleges or universities, and four private nonprofit schools -- and a number of them feature online criminal justice degree programs. This lets students in Idaho and around the world complete coursework from the comfort of their own homes, while also accommodating work, life, and family obligations.

Another benefit of online learning is the convenience. Students can work from home and forego long commute times and never miss a class. Many programs make their courses asynchronous, letting students log in anytime and anywhere it suits them. An Idaho online criminal justice degree also eliminates certain traditional costs associated with going to college, such as transportation, campus housing, and textbooks. In fact, more and more students are earning their degrees from a distance: the National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2014, over 5.75 million college students had enrolled in at least one distance course, while 14% of all college students were taking online courses exclusively.

A school's accreditation status should be a key consideration for any college-bound student. Not only does accreditation demonstrate an institution's quality, but it also impacts transfer credit and a student's eligibility for federal financial aid. To receive federal aid, schools must be accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). While the ED recognizes all regional accrediting agencies, it does not recognize every national accreditor. Moreover, many schools only accept credit for courses taken at an accredited institution.

NWCCU, or the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, is the regional accreditor for Idaho.

Accreditation is a voluntary evaluation process requested by a school. There are three types of accreditation: regional, national, and specialized. Regional and national accreditation are granted to an institution, while specialized accreditation is granted to specific programs and departments, such as a business school. Nonprofit, degree-granting institutions mainly hold regional accreditation, the older of the two types of institutional accreditation. There are six recognized regional accrediting agencies in the U.S. NWCCU, or the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, is the regional accreditor for Idaho. National accreditors, meanwhile, review a wider selection of schools, including for-profit and single-purpose schools, such as career or technical colleges. To help students check accreditation status, the ED maintains a database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs.

Depending on the criminal justice profession one wishes to pursue, educational requirements and training vary. With a high school diploma or equivalent, one can begin a career in security or as a bailiff. More doors open as an individual pursues postsecondary education. To join the Boise Police Department, for example, applicants must have completed at least 60 semester credits from a regionally accredited college/university, or have a minimum 30 credits plus prior military service. Paralegals must have at least an associate degree to qualify.

Various other criminal justice jobs -- like correctional treatment specialists, lawyers, and crime scene investigators -- require more education. Criminal justice degrees in Idaho are offered at the associate, bachelor's, and graduate levels, giving prospective students ample preparation for whichever careers they choose.

Depending on the criminal justice profession one wishes to pursue, educational requirements and training vary.

For many jobs in this field, a bachelor's degree is the minimum. Forensic science technicians typically hold a bachelor's degree and must complete extensive on-the-job training to work crime scene investigations. Fish and game wardens also typically hold a four-year degree upon entering the field.

A master's in criminal justice, on the other hand, opens more doors to leadership, supervisory, or specialty roles, such as a criminologist, a correctional officer supervisor, or a profiler. Lawyers and judges must hold law degrees after passing the bar exam, while professors of criminal justice must obtain a doctorate degree -- though a master's may allow one to teach at a community college.

Certain criminal justice jobs in Idaho require specialized training. Police officers, for example, must graduate from a police academy; emergency dispatchers can enter the workforce with a high school diploma, but must meet state training requirements; and a probation or correctional treatment specialist must complete state-sponsored training and pass a certification test to prove their competency.

Many criminal justice jobs require that employees hold relevant licensure for the state in which they work. Security guards in Idaho, for example, must register with the state in order to work. Meanwhile, Idaho is one of only five states that do not require private detectives and investigators to obtain a license at the state level. Idaho PIs, however, can apply for certification as certified private investigators.

A license is required, and grants the holder the legal authority to practice a profession within a designated scope. A certification, on the other hand, is typically not a job requirement.

Licensure requirements for criminal justice jobs in Idaho vary according to the field. To practice law in Idaho, an attorney must pass the bar exam and obtain a license. A correctional treatment specialist is not licensed, but must pass a state certification test to demonstrate competency. Meanwhile, a crime scene technician is not required to obtain a license or certificate, though many still do for credential or professional development purposes.

While the terms "licensure" and "certification" are often used interchangeably, the two credentials are different. A license is required, and grants the holder the legal authority to practice a profession within a designated scope. A certification, on the other hand, is typically not a job requirement. Certification is a voluntary credential and proof that an individual is qualified and/or has achieved a level of proficiency. A crime scene investigator (CSI), for example, may be certificatied in digital forensics or toxicology.

Another notable difference between licensure and certification is transferability: certifications are transferable to other states, while licenses, for the most part, are not. For example, a lawyer who moves to a new state will need to take the bar exam for that state to practice law. The exception is the Uniform Bar Examination, which is recognized by 28 states, including the state of Idaho.

Salaries for criminal justice careers in Idaho can vary by position, experience, and/or locale. Individuals in protective service occupations, for example, can earn a mean hourly wage of $20.42 and a mean annual wage of $42,470. While this sits just behind the national average for the same occupation, Idaho also features a lower cost of living to offset these wages.

Now is a terrific time to consider a career in criminal justice in Idaho, as the field is poised to grow. The BLS projects average to above-average growth for criminal justice jobs by 2026. Jobs for police and detectives are projected to grow by 7%, attorneys by 8%, and probation officers by 6%. Other occupations are projected to grow much faster than average, however, including CSIs (17%), paralegals (15%), and postsecondary teachers (15%).

What's more, Idaho was one of eight cities in 2017 to receive a $1 million grant for criminal justice reform. Designated for Ada County (which includes the capital of Boise), the grant aims to reduce Idaho's jail population and fund the creation of new jobs, including inmate case managers and court clerks. As the table below demonstrates, the annual wage for many of Idaho's criminal justice jobs shows that salary potential is strong, especially for occupations that require a four-year or advanced degree.

Protective Services Occupations in Idaho

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Firefighters 1,640 $19.17 $39,880
Fire Inspectors and Investigators N/A N/A N/A
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 410 $33.62 $69,940
Fish and Game Wardens 90 $25.97 $54,010
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers 2,470 $25.16 $52,340
Private Detectives and Investigators N/A $24.93 $51,860
Security Guards 2,730 $15.83 $32,920
Transportation Security Screeners 200 $18.55 $38,590
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Idaho

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 710 $20.11 $41,840
Lawyers 1,980 $47.30 $98,390
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates 210 $56.03 $116,540
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 1,000 $20.88 $43,430
Court Reporters 70 $23.07 $47,980
Bailiffs 60 $17.77 $36,970
Correctional Officers and Jailers 1,890 $18.12 $37,690
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Idaho

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians 110 $24.49 $50,940
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary 150 N/A N/A
Source: BLS, May 2017

While loans are often a source of funding for many degree-seekers, students should thoroughly research scholarships, grants, or fellowships for which they might qualify. As a first step, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal loans, grants, and work-study awards. Many scholarships are created for a particular group of students. For example, students enrolling in an online criminal justice degree in Idaho should research awards created for law enforcement, social justice, and legal careers, as well as any limited to residents of Idaho. It is recommended students begin their scholarship search in the spring, as scholarship season traditionally kicks off February 1.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Award $1,000

Who Can Apply: Created in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this scholarship is awarded to minority college students who aspire to work in criminal justice. Nominees must submit proof of acceptance into a four-year college or university and an essay on the ideals and philosophies of Dr. King. View Scholarship

Crimcheck Criminal Justice Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: Open to high school seniors who are set to pursue a degree in criminal justice. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA or higher and demonstrate academic and extracurricular excellence. View Scholarship

Study.com Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: High school seniors who are preparing to pursue an undergraduate degree in either criminal justice or law enforcement, which includes homeland security, sociology with a law/criminal emphasis, and computer forensics. Enrolled students may also apply. View Scholarship

NOBLE National Scholarships $1,500-2,500

Who Can Apply: Open to graduating high school seniors committed to a career in law enforcement or criminal justice. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.8 and submit an essay on goals and interests. With one application, students may apply to each of these awards: Irlet Anderson Scholarship Award ($2,500), Charles Fonseca Scholarship Award ($2,000), and the Bernard and Silvia Davis Thompson Scholarship ($1,500). View Scholarship

Sheryl A. Horak Memorial Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: This merit-based, one-time scholarship is awarded each year to an Explorer interested in law enforcement. Candidates are evaluated based on academic record, leadership ability, extracurricular activities, and personal statement. Applicants should secure certification of the Post Advisor, head of the participating organization, and Learning for Life representative. View Scholarship

LivSecure Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: Awarded to graduating seniors who submit an essay on one of two designated questions related to law enforcement. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Idaho Residents

Horatio Alger Association State Scholarships $10,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship provides significant financial assistance to college students who have overcome adversity or hardship in their lives. Recipient must hold a 2.0 GPA or better, demonstrate financial need, and be involved in co-curricular and/or community service. Applicant must be a high school senior and exhibit a strong commitment to pursuing a degree. View Scholarship

Idaho Opportunity Scholarship $3,500

Who Can Apply: Applicants for this renewable state scholarship must have a CGPA of 2.7 or above, be a resident of Idaho, and a graduate from an Idaho high school (or equivalent). View Scholarship

Idaho Governors Cup Scholarship $3,000

Who Can Apply: Established in 1974, this scholarship awards Idaho graduating seniors who are set to enroll full time an an academic or technical program in Idaho. Applicant must hold a CGPA of 2.8 or above, submit a personal essay on goals and interests, and commit to public service. View Scholarship

Treacy Foundation Scholarships $2,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be a starting freshman or sophomore in college who is a resident of Montana or Idaho. Application includes sections on community service, school transcript, and a personal letter. View Scholarship

D.L. Evans Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: D.L. Evans Bank annually awards high school seniors who are prepared to attend one of eight Idaho colleges. Applicant must be a student from Mini Cassia, Magic Valley, Treasure Valley, Western Idaho, Wood River, Eastern Idaho or surrounding area. Preference is given to students majoring in finance, business, or economics but all majors are considered. A 3.0 GPA or better is required. Homeschooled students must have a minimum 18 ACT or 860 SAT (minus writing section). View Scholarship

IAC Scholarship Fund $1,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is reserved for students of Idaho county employees working 20 hours or more per week, and the children/grandchildren of an elected county official, including county commissioners, clerks, coroners, prosecuting attorneys, and sheriffs. View Scholarship

Law Enforcement Agencies in Idaho

Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization can be a significant boost to one's career, especially for those just starting out in an industry like criminal justice. Professional organizations aid in both professional and personal growth, offering programs and workshops for longtime members, career services for recent graduates, and scholarships for students. For all members, networking opportunities abound at annual conferences and chapter meetings. What's more, including a professional organization on a resume tells employers that an applicant is serious about their career and contributions to the field.

Idaho Sheriffs' Association

ISA, a nonprofit professional organization for 44 county elected sheriffs, facilitates communication between members and other government entities such as city police departments, POST, and the state legislature.

Idaho State Police Association

ISPA is an independent employee association administered by the Idaho State Police Officers. The organization provides assistance to family members of other Idaho police organizations.

Idaho Peace Officers Association

Established in 1935, IPOA counts among its 625 active and retired members Idaho sheriffs, deputy sheriffs, city officers, marshals, state law enforcement officers, and state prosecutors. IPOA advocates on behalf of members any local, state, or federal legislation that supports the criminal justice community.

American Academy of Forensic Sciences

AAFS is a multidisciplinary professional organization that advances science and its application in the U.S. criminal justice system. The organization promotes education, field research, and the improvement of practice.

Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association

A nonprofit corporation whose membership includes county prosecutors and over 200 deputy prosecutors from Idaho. IPAA provides members with education through seminars, publications, and technical support.

Idaho Association of Defense Counsel

Founded in 1964, IADC promotes ethical, professional standards for Idaho's civil defense and business attorneys. IADC provides education, community, and professional development for those in civil defense, business, and commercial law.

Private Investigators Association of Idaho

This organization for Idaho private detectives and investigators provides accountability for their profession. In the state of Idaho, private investigators are not required to obtain a license; however, PIAI provides certification.

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