Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Indiana

The job outlook for graduates with criminal justice degrees in Indiana is encouraging. The state's expanding economy, favorable cost of living, and low unemployment make now a great time to pursue higher education in the state.

Over 30 schools in Indiana offer criminal justice degrees from the undergraduate to the doctoral levels, 15 of which are delivered online.

Over 30 schools in Indiana offer criminal justice degrees from the undergraduate to the doctoral levels, 15 of which are delivered online, giving prospective learners numerous options to complete their degree. In fact, job seekers who complete an online criminal justice degree in Indiana receive better salaries and greater career advancement than those with less education. Most police and probation officers, for example, earn higher starting salaries with a bachelor's in hand, or additional bonuses for degree completion.

Indiana's Department of Corrections allows degree holders to enter the field as correctional sergeants -- rather than correctional officers -- at higher pay rates. Earning a criminal justice degree online in Indiana also provides training for paralegal or court reporter positions, or for specialized careers like internet security and forensics. An online criminal justice degree in Indiana can also provide a background for graduate, law, and professional studies, opening up even more opportunities for advancement.

With a multitude of programs available, students should first consider whether a traditional brick-and-mortar school or online program best suits them. For self-motivated learners interested in completing their work at their convenience, an online program provides the necessary flexibility and autonomy.

Online learning has many other benefits, as well: students can continue to work full time or raise a family while completing their degree; courses can be completed whenever and wherever one has internet access; and most of Indiana's online criminal justice degrees are competitively priced compared to their on-site counterparts. Additionally, online learners can take as many or as few credits per term as they can handle, and are eligible for the same financial aid opportunities available to on-campus students. Students in online programs can save further on transportation, housing, and other on-campus expenses.

As part of its commitment to increasing the number of working-age adults holding postsecondary degrees, Indiana collaborates with its colleges and universities to expand their distance learning options. Through the state's affiliation with the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, Indiana students enrolled online at public colleges in any of the 12 member states have access to a variety of programs, simplified transfer credit policies, and in-state tuition rates.

Accreditation is one of the most important factors to consider in one's degree search. For criminal justice degrees in Indiana to be accredited, schools must be approved by the Higher Learning Commission, one of six regional accreditation agencies for colleges and universities. Accreditation provides evidence that schools adhere to recognized standards of performance. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) provides a list of accredited institutions, and most programs publish their accreditation information on their websites.

For criminal justice degrees in Indiana to be accredited, schools must be approved by the Higher Learning Commission.

Schools generally receive either national or regional accreditation. The former is granted to vocational or technical schools -- or those offering only online programs -- and feature relatively inexpensive tuition and open admissions policies. The most respected and popular form of accreditation, however, is regional. Regionally accredited schools are more likely to have their transfer credits accepted at other schools, while graduate programs restrict admission to applicants who have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited school. Job applicants may also find that employers give preferential consideration to graduates from these institutions.

Finally, some criminal justice programs in Indiana may carry accreditation from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Students should know that federal and state financial aid is only available for schools that hold an ED-approved accreditation.

Graduates of Indiana's online criminal justice programs have several rewarding career paths available to them. An associate degree can lead to entry-level opportunities as police and probation officers, security guards, court reporters, or paralegals. A bachelor's degree is the key to wider opportunities, however.

In law enforcement, a bachelor's is usually the minimum educational requirement for detectives, forensic investigators, and Drug Enforcement Agency agents. Applicants for the Transportation Security Administration's transportation security inspector positions can waive the on-the-job work experience requirement if they have completed their bachelor's. Careers in supervisory positions, homeland security, border protection, crisis management, and information security all require at least a four-year degree.

For many law enforcement careers, an associate or bachelor's degree is a terrific start. However, a growing number of specialized, technological and high-demand careers in areas like emergency preparedness, cybercrime, and internet assurance require graduate training. Many law enforcement and emergency services professionals must also earn certification or state licensing that requires training and/or continuing education. Additionally, as more opportunities expand throughout Indiana for criminal justice personnel of all kinds, educators and trainers that hold master's and doctoral degrees will be needed to teach them.

The requirements for licensing and certification in criminal justice professions vary by state and the type of position, and are periodically revised. Some criminal justice positions, particularly in law enforcement, are required to hold state licensing or specialized certification. Prospective employers and state agencies verify licensing and credential requirements for certain categories of employment, so students should research their intended career to learn more about what's required.

The difference between licensing and certification can be confusing, and the terms are frequently used interchangeably. A license grants permission to practice an occupation under the jurisdiction of a local, state or federal agency. Licensing is mandatory for some law enforcement jobs, and the state imposes criminal penalties for working without a valid license. A license must be kept current and ongoing continuing education is required for renewal.

Some criminal justice positions, particularly in law enforcement, are required to hold state licensing or specialized certification.

In contrast to licensing, certifications are granted to individuals who voluntarily pursue professional training to move ahead in their careers. Certifications distinguish different occupations and provide opportunities for career advancement. Like licenses, they must be renewed periodically by the granting organization. Certificates are increasingly required for criminal justice professionals who want to advance in corrections, parole, and probation management positions.

For example, all law enforcement professionals who carry firearms must be licensed by the state, which requires a rigorous criminal background investigation and appropriate training. Private investigators, security guards, and agencies that offer these services within the state must receive licensing from the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency. Meanwhile, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security coordinates several certification programs for emergency personnel, and the American Correctional Association offers four levels of certification to qualify correction officers in Indiana to advance into supervisory and managerial roles. Many criminal justice degrees in Indiana also offer career-focused certificates for academic credit -- either as alongside their programs or as free-standing units.

Career prospects for graduates with online criminal justice degrees in Indiana mirror national employment trends. Nationally, positions for police officers and detectives is projected to grow by 7% within the next decade, while the demand for paralegals, legal assistants, and forensic specialists is expected to increase much faster than other occupations.

The tables below highlight current employment levels and mean salaries for several popular criminal justice careers in Indiana. For example, the average salary for all protective services occupations in the state is $39,490 annually, with an hourly average wage at $18.99. Detectives and criminal investigators are the top earners in this category in Indiana, with police and sheriff's officers earning the second highest salaries.

Clearly, post baccalaureate degrees substantially increase one's earning potential: judges, magistrates and attorneys practicing in Indiana can earn six-figure salaries. Paralegals and legal assistants, who require only an associate degree, can expect expanding opportunities and an annual mean salary of $48,460. Careers in forensic science and other specialized positions that require advanced technological and graduate training are also in demand. In Indiana, forensic science technicians earn an annual mean salary of $58,040.

Finally, as the demand for criminal justice personnel continues to increase in both the public and private sectors, so does the need for postsecondary educators to train them. While the average annual salary for criminal justice teachers across fields is $52,250, these educators may command higher salaries depending on their degree and employer.

Protective Services Occupations in Indiana

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Firefighters 7,600 $23.07 $47,980
Fire Inspectors and Investigators 170 $24.58 $51,130
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 1,070 $34.59 $71,960
Fish and Game Wardens N/A N/A N/A
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers 11,920 $25.60 $53,260
Private Detectives and Investigators 190 $23.98 $49,890
Security Guards 17,530 $13.33 $27,740
Transportation Security Screeners 370 $18.19 $37,830
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Indiana

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 1,720 $22.70 $47,220
Lawyers 8,080 $54.74 $113,850
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates 770 $57.63 $119,870
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 3,670 $23.30 $48,460
Court Reporters 730 $18.18 $37,820
Bailiffs 540 $17.20 $35,780
Correctional Officers and Jailers 7,740 $16.38 $34,060
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Indiana

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians 280 $27.90 $58,040
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary 210 N/A $52,250
Source: BLS, May 2017

Once you decide to pursue a criminal justice degree online in Indiana, the next step is figuring out how to pay for it. As a first step, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Several scholarships are also available to students with a record of academic excellence, community service, and leadership, while others are reserved for students who can demonstrate financial need or hold a particular career interest. Still others are restricted to residents of Indiana or students from certain racial or ethnic groups.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

Irlet Anderson Scholarship Award $2,500

Who Can Apply: The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives offers this scholarship to an African American high school senior planning to pursue a career in criminal justice. Applicants must have a 3.8 GPA and demonstrate financial need. View Scholarship

The Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association (HAPCOA) Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: High school seniors or currently-enrolled college students of Hispanic or Latino heritage are eligible. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and provide evidence of service and leadership. Applications include a personal essay addressing "Why I want to pursue a career in the law enforcement or criminal justice profession." View Scholarship

National Criminal Justice Association/Lambda Alpha Epsilon Student Paper Competition Varies

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is open to Lambda Alpha Epsilon members in good standing, and can be applied to programs from the undergraduate to doctoral levels. Students must submit an original research paper that focuses on a criminal justice issue. View Scholarship

Captain James J. Regan Memorial Scholarship $2,500

Who Can Apply: This award is open to high school seniors enrolling in accredited college programs in law enforcement or a related area, or to students currently enrolled. Applicants must demonstrate a record of academic achievement, leadership, and extracurricular activities. They also must submit a personal statement on the significance of possessing a technical background in law enforcement. View Scholarship

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

Who Can Apply: The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners awards this scholarship to undergraduate students majoring in criminal justice, finance, accounting, or business administration. Students must demonstrate an interest in careers in fraud-related areas. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Indiana Residents

21st Century Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: This is an innovative, need-based scholarship that selects promising Indiana students -- as early as the seventh or eighth grade -- to prepare for college. Successful participants in the program receive full tuition at any public college or university in the state. View Scholarship

Frank OBannon Grant Varies

Who Can Apply: This is a need-based scholarship for Indiana residents funded by the Indiana General Assembly. Eligibility is determined by a student's FAFSA. View Scholarship

Adult Student Grant $2,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship assists returning students starting or completing an associate or bachelor's degree or a certificate program in Indiana. Applicants must be financially independent as determined by the FAFSA, demonstrate financial need, and enrolled in six or more credit hours. View Scholarship

Children and Spouse of Indiana Public Safety Officers Full tuition and fees

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is restricted to students who are children or spouses of Indiana public safety officers who were killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. View Scholarship

Indiana University Provosts Scholarship $1,000-8,000

Who Can Apply: Indiana University awards the Dean's Scholarship to first-time incoming freshman with a demonstrated record of academic excellence, and who are also Indiana residents. View Scholarship

Law Enforcement Agencies in Indiana

Professional Organizations

For those currently enrolled in one of Indiana's online criminal justice degrees, joining a professional association can be a good way to gain a competitive advantage in the job market. Professional associations at the national and state levels bring together criminal justice practitioners, policymakers, and educators, providing members resources to internships, job banks, mentoring, and other career support. They also provide opportunities to expand personal and professional networks. Student memberships are often available at reduced rates.

American Correctional Association

Representing the interests of corrections professionals, the ACA establishes standards for accrediting corrections organizations. ACA offers training programs and administers the Certified Corrections Professional Certificate program.

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences

Boasting a membership of over 2,800 educators, researchers and professionals, ACJS is one of the largest criminal justice associations in the nation. It sponsors conferences, publishes research, and administers the ACJS certification program.

Indiana Paralegal Association

IPA offers networking opportunities, a job bank, and information on national and local trends affecting the profession. It sponsors the IPA salary and needs survey, certification training, and professional development opportunities.

Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police

IACP provides continuing education and networking opportunities that promote professionalism for law enforcement executives in the state of Indiana. It sponsors legislative briefings and training workshops for police chiefs.

Indiana Association for Addiction Professionals

Membership in this organization is open to professionals who work in the fields of addictions and substance abuse counseling throughout the state. It provides certification information and a forum for networking and continuing education.

Indiana Criminal Justice Association

Open to professionals, educators, and students from all areas of criminal justice, ICJA works to raise professional standards in the delivery of rehabilitative and treatment services throughout the state of Indiana. It also sponsors training and professional development opportunities.

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