Every day, criminal justice professionals make vital contributions across the Bluegrass State. One of the most versatile degree options, criminal justice degrees in Kentucky prepare graduates for careers in growing fields like protective services, the court system, and corrections. After earning a criminal justice degree, graduates often work as criminal investigators, firefighters, and forensic science technicians. Others become legal professionals, such as lawyers, paralegals, or court officers. In Kentucky, criminal justice majors can contribute to the commonwealth by joining the Kentucky State Police, working for the Department of Corrections, and contributing to the Kentucky Department of Criminal Investigations.
Criminal justice majors can contribute to the commonwealth by joining the Kentucky State Police, working for the Department of Corrections, and contributing to the Kentucky Department of Criminal Investigations.
Since criminal justice coursework is applicable to many potential career paths, criminal justice students often choose to specialize in a certain area that best suits their professional interests. Kentucky students benefit from the flexibility of an online degree in criminal justice from an accredited institution, which qualifies them for a variety of jobs. Graduates who earn criminal justice degrees in Kentucky often pursue careers in law enforcement, corrections, and legal services. Graduate degrees in criminal justice can lead to career advancement and increased salaries.
Earning an Online Criminal Justice Degree in Kentucky
Many students rely on the flexibility and accessibility of a Kentucky online criminal justice degree. Online students can arrange classes around their professional and family obligations, which appeals to working students and those with children. While some on-campus programs only enroll new students during fall semester, many online programs offer multiple start dates throughout the year. And unlike on-campus programs, online programs provide access to class materials at any time, from any location. Students can also save money by choosing an online program. Online students spend less on commuting costs and avoid on-campus housing fees, and many schools provide a tuition discount for online students.
Today, some of the top criminal justice programs in the country offer online degree options. That means students don't need to relocate or leave behind careers and families to earn a degree. Online students benefit from the same resources, faculty, and networking opportunities as on-campus students. With so many options, prospective students can find the online criminal justice program that best fits their career goals.
Accredited Criminal Justice Programs in Kentucky
The accreditation process ensures that colleges and universities meet standards of academic excellence and commit to continued improvement. Higher education institutions voluntarily undergo a review process, conducted by nonprofit accrediting agencies. These organizations operate as regional, national, or specialized accrediting agencies. While specialized accrediting agencies review specific programs, such as a business school or teaching program, regional and national accreditation agencies review an entire college or university.
In Kentucky, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges confers regional accreditation
Regional accreditation holds greater prestige than national accreditation; credits earned at a regionally accredited institution are more likely to transfer to other programs, and some graduate programs, certifications, and licensing boards only accept degrees from regionally accredited institutions. In addition, institutions with regional accreditation qualify to offer federal financial aid. In Kentucky, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges confers regional accreditation.
Criminal justice programs do not have a specialized accreditation agency. However, some programs, including law schools, receive accreditation from specialized agencies. Prospective criminal justice students need to prioritize institutions with regional accreditation during their program search. The U.S. Department of Education maintains a database of accredited colleges and programs to help students find an accredited institution.
Education and Training Requirements for Criminal Justice Professionals in Kentucky
Criminal justice is a broad field, and graduates with a Kentucky online criminal justice degree can pursue a variety of career paths. Because of this, Kentucky criminal justice jobs require varying amounts of education and training. For example, the Kentucky State Police require at least a high school diploma or GED and three years of work experience. In contrast, some federal corrections officer positions require a bachelor's degree, while lawyers must hold a doctoral degree from a law school.
In addition to educational requirements, many criminal justice jobs require additional training. State troopers, for example, must complete basic training through the Kentucky State Police Academy, which takes 24 weeks. All Kentucky law enforcement personnel must complete 40 hours of advanced training annually to remain in good standing.
In criminal justice, as in many fields, higher levels of education translate into increased salary opportunities. For example, a master's degree in criminal justice allows graduates to hold advanced leadership positions, which typically command higher salaries. Because education and training requirements vary, criminal justice students must carefully consider the best degree for their intended field. Researching bachelor's programs in criminal justice and master's programs in criminal justice can help prospective students find the program that best fits their career goals.
Licensing, Registration, and Certification Requirements in Kentucky
Before working in many criminal justice positions, employees must apply for the appropriate state license. Criminal justice licenses may require applicants to meet educational requirements and training guidelines. For example, security guards and law enforcement officers must register with the appropriate state government authority in order to carry a weapon as part of their job. These licensure requirements vary by state and career, so criminal justice graduates must research the requirements in their profession and desired location.
In Kentucky, the Department of Professional Licensing issues licenses for many common professions. Some specialized professions require applicants to attain licensure through independent agencies. For example, lawyers must apply for a license through the Kentucky Bar Association. Attorneys must meet continuing education requirements to maintain the license.
In Kentucky, the Department of Professional Licensing issues licenses for many common professions.
In addition to licensing requirements, criminal justice professionals may also benefit from certifications. A certification stands as a marker of distinction, demonstrating the professional's advanced skills in their field. Addiction counselors, for example, earn the criminal justice addictions professional credential with advanced knowledge and experience in counseling. Applicants must complete an examination and meet work experience and educational requirements.
Law enforcement professionals may need to apply for certification from the appropriate agencies. The Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training issues certification for law enforcement officers and court security officers. They also certify instructors at the training academy. For those working on the legal side of criminal justice, paralegals can earn a certified paralegal credential from the National Association of Legal Assistants. Applicants must pass a detailed examination and meet minimum educational and professional experience requirements.
Some Kentucky licenses and certifications may not transfer to other states. Licensing regulations also change frequently. Criminal justice graduates should verify the requirements for their intended field as part of their job search.
Career and Salary Expectations
Kentucky's criminal justice graduates enter an active job market, often working in protective service careers, as law enforcement officers, security guards, and firefighters. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Kentucky protective service professionals earn an average hourly wage of $17.15 and an annual mean wage of $35,660. With over 37,000 protective service professionals in the state, the field is a significant sector of Kentucky's economy.
In addition to protective services, criminal justice majors work in legal services as lawyers, paralegals, and correctional officers. Professionals in legal occupations earn $37.15 an hour on average, and an annual mean wage of over $77,000. Some legal careers require a graduate degree, most commonly a law degree. This lucrative field employs nearly 10,000 Kentuckians.
For graduates with an online criminal justice degree, Kentucky offers a variety of career options. Prospective students considering a criminal justice occupation can learn more about employment statistics, hourly wages, and annual wages in the following tables. This data, from the BLS, includes employment information for a variety of criminal justice careers, including firefighters, detectives, forensic scientists, and correctional officers.
Protective Services Occupations in Kentucky
|Occupation||Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average annual Wage|
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators||120||$21.33||$44,370|
|Detectives and Criminal Investigators||580||$34.76||$72,300|
|Fish and Game Wardens||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers||7,520||$21.64||$45,010|
|Private Detectives and Investigators||290||$22.77||$47,370|
|Transportation Security Screeners||350||$18.88||$39,270|
Court and Corrections Occupations in Kentucky
|Occupation||Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average annual Wage|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||900||$18.50||$38,470|
|Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates||300||$62.16||$129,300|
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants||2,770||$21.92||$45,590|
|Correctional Officers and Jailers||6,040||$16.91||$35,160|
Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Kentucky
|Occupation||Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average annual Wage|
|Forensic Science Technicians||60||$21.39||$44,490|
|Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary||130||N/A||$82,800|
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Criminal justice students in Kentucky benefit from national and state scholarships, which help cover the cost of a degree. For state residents pursuing higher education, including those earning an online criminal justice degree, Kentucky offers a variety of state-specific scholarships and grants.
Criminal Justice Scholarships
Women in Federal Law Enforcement Scholarship $2,500
My Alarm Center Scholarship $1,000
Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Award $1,000
National Black Police Association Alphonso Deal Scholarship Varies
American Criminal Justice Association Scholarship Up to $400
Scholarships for Kentucky Residents
Kentucky Educational Excellence Scholarship Up to $2,500
Kentucky Tuition Grant Up to $3,000
Mary Barrett Marshall Scholarship $500
Kentucky Go Higher Grant Up to $1,000
Kentucky Coal County College Completion Scholarship Up to $7,700
Resources for Criminal Justice Students in Kentucky
Law Enforcement Agencies in Kentucky
- Kentucky Department of Corrections
- Kentucky State Police
- Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice
- Kentucky Department of Criminal Investigations
- Louisville Metro Police Department
While earning their online criminal justice degree, Kentucky students can join a variety of professional associations dedicated to the field. These professional organizations specialize in areas like corrections, law enforcement, and criminology, acting as advocates for their members. They provide networking opportunities, access to new research and professional standards, and specialized publications. Many hold annual conferences and offer scholarships for criminal justice majors, including those earning a criminal justice degree online in Kentucky. Professional organizations also often provide employment support for members, typically through job boards.
An organization that dates back to 1870, ACA sets professional standards for the correction field and holds an annual conference.
With resources including training, publications, and an annual conference, AJA supports professionals working in jails across the U.S.
A professional association for more than 25,000 federal law enforcement officers from over 65 different agencies, FLEOA provides scholarships, legal representation in work-related matters, a hotline for emergency situations, and an annual conference for members.
Founded in 1941, ASC works to prevent, control, treat, and measure crime and delinquency. The organization holds a yearly conference, maintains a job listing board, and offers its members journals, a newsletter, and awards.
With a national presence, this association supports criminal justice professionals and students, offering an annual scholarship to qualified individuals.
An advocacy group, NCJA promotes effective criminal justice policies. The association represents state and local governments on issues involving criminal and juvenile justice.