Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Louisiana

Earning a Louisiana online criminal justice degree offers an exciting opportunity for distance learners, especially since the state recently enacted comprehensive criminal justice reform. In 2017, the Louisiana governor signed into law a series of 10 legislative bills to reform criminal justice and reduce Louisiana's imprisonment rate, which ranks as the highest in the country, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 2016, Louisiana also imprisoned 760 individuals per every 100,000 residents, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BLS).

Louisiana saw positive economic growth in 2017 with the per capita personal income rising 2.9% BEA

The new laws call for changes to the criminal justice system in Louisiana, including expanding probation and prison alternatives; improving victim services; and investing funds in juvenile justice and recidivism reduction programs in prisons, jails, and work release facilities. The new criminal justice reform laws will require hiring new criminal justice employees, especially lawyers, probation officers, and victim advocates.

With an unemployment rate of 4.4% as of March 2018, according to the BLS, Louisiana's job market remains a lucrative place for recent graduates to seek employment. Louisiana saw positive economic growth in 2017 with the per capita personal income rising 2.9%, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

With positive economic growth and low unemployment, Louisiana is an ideal location to earn a degree. Distance learners can earn an online degree in criminal justice from out of state at one of Louisiana's top colleges.

Earning a Louisiana online criminal justice degree provides distance learners with a number of benefits, including flexibility and convenience.

Many online criminal justice degrees are offered in an asynchronous format. This allows students to complete work on their own schedules and maintain work and family responsibilities. Cohort programs, which require students to move through the curriculum with a group of learners, still allow students to complete work online, but they usually include synchronous components and take longer to complete.

Online students receive direct access to instructors through email and online forums to ask a question or seek additional assistance.

An educational institution may also accept hours earned from a basic police training course, as prescribed and certified by the Louisiana Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), in exchange for college credit. Universities or colleges may also accept basic training completed outside of Louisiana to replace college credit.

This exchange can save a degree candidate money by reducing the amount of classes required. The reduction also allows a learner to complete a Louisiana online criminal justice degree earlier than expected by reducing the number of required credits to graduate. Distance learners also save money on transportation and parking costs.

Earning a criminal justice degree online can also provide learners with more individualized attention than in a large, physical classroom. Students receive direct access to instructors through email and online forums to ask a question or seek additional assistance.

When researching a criminal justice program in Louisiana, students should check the school's accreditation status. In Louisiana, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) serves as the main regional accrediting agency.

Credible educational institutions typically receive regional, national, or specialized accreditation. A specific regional agency reviews and awards accreditation based on the school's specific geographic location and whether they meet certain academic standards. SACSCOC overseas all colleges and universities in 11 southeastern states.

In Louisiana, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) serves as the main regional accrediting agency.

Agencies sponsored by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) award national accreditation. Unlike regional or national accreditation, specialized accreditation usually applies to a university's department, program, or college or school.

Accreditation can affect a student's employment long after graduation since not all employers accept degrees and certificates from unaccredited schools. Accreditation may also affect transfer credits, as some institution only accept credits from schools with the same type of accreditation.

You can search for your program or school in the U.S. Department of Education's database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs here.

A job applicant may need to meet certain educational requirements for a criminal justice occupation.

In Louisiana, applicants can apply to become a police officer or firefighter with only a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate. However, an associate degree can prepare students for more career options, including positions in corrections, legal assisting, and law enforcement, as well as preparing them to earn a bachelor's degree. A bachelor's degree in criminal justice helps prepare learners for mid-level careers or degree advancement. Such careers include parole officer, lobbyist, statistician, and witness advocate.

Depending on the criminal justice job, an applicant may need additional training, testing, or certification.

Leadership positions in Louisiana may require a master's degree in criminal justice, which also provides degree candidates with a competitive edge in the job market. Potential careers with a master's degree include air marshal, college instructor, law enforcement performance auditor, federal agent, policy analyst, and juvenile probation officer.

Depending on the criminal justice job, an applicant may need additional training, testing, or certification. To become a lawyer in Louisiana, a degree candidate must complete a written examination known as the bar exam. The Louisiana Supreme Court Committee on Bar Admissions administers the bar exam. To join the State Police, a cadet must attend the Louisiana State Police Training Academy, which provides basic training and continuing education for troopers.

Many criminal justice jobs require applicants to hold a specific licence in the state where they work. Security guards must register in most states, especially if carrying a firearm, according to the BLS. Requirements for licensure vary based on the job position and state.

In Louisiana, specific criminal justice jobs require licensure with the state. For example, private investigators must apply for licensure with the Louisiana State Board of Private Investigator Examiners in order to work. Even with licensure, an applicant must complete an online continuing education course every two years to maintain a private investigator license. Security officers must seek licensing from the Louisiana State Board of Private Security Examiners, the state's regulatory body for the private security industry.

To practice some professions, a state requires a type of license under state law. A certification, by contrast, typically remains a voluntary process in which an employee seeks to demonstrate professionalism and competency in the field.

Many criminal justice jobs require applicants to hold a specific licence in the state where they work.

In 1978, Louisiana created POST to mandate training standards for peace officers in the state. The definition of a peace officer includes any full-time or part-time employee in the state who makes arrests, performs searches, issues warrants, and prevents or detects crime. Unlike other voluntary certifications, a peace officer must complete a basic training course within the first year of employment in accordance with state law. The course includes testing, a state exam, and firearms training.

POST awards three basic types of certification: certification for basic law enforcement peace officers, certification for basic correctional peace officer, and certification for jailer training officers. An applicant who presents an out-of-state POST certificate may still qualify for certification by passing a statewide exam with a minimum required score, qualifying on the firearms course, and completing a basic training manual.

Since licensure instructions can change frequently, job seekers should verify requirements with the local municipality where they plan to work.

Despite crime rates falling throughout the country, the need for police officers and other criminal justice professionals will continue to rise in the near future, according to the BLS. However, employment demand will depend on location. Protective service occupations may include police officer, firefighter, security guard, correctional officer, lawyer, judge, or other law profession.

Jobseekers in Louisiana will see protective service occupations grow 5% from 2016 to 2026, according to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. Employment for private detectives will grow at a rate of 11%, which is faster than the national average. The BLS projects national employment of correctional officers to decline 7% from 2016 to 2026. In Louisiana, a protective service occupation offers a mean hourly wage of $17.44 and an annual mean wage of $36,270, according to the BLS.

The table below shows protective service occupations in Louisiana, along with employment rates and average hourly and annual wages. Criminal justice students and graduates interested in finding a job in the state can compare and contrast the different professions, including court and corrections occupations, and how much the jobs pay by using the information provided below.

Protective Services Occupations in Louisiana

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Firefighters 6,290 $15.73 $32,710
Fire Inspectors and Investigators 140 $23.72 $49,340
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 2,030 $30.49 $63,420
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers 11,230 $19.06 $39,650
Private Detectives and Investigators 310 $22.59 $46,980
Security Guards 16,720 $13.13 $27,320
Transportation Security Screeners 500 $18.27 $38,000
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Louisiana

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 950 $23.52 $48,930
Lawyers 6,820 $48.64 $101,170
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates 160 $30.58 $63,610
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 4,440 $23.74 $49,380
Court Reporters 330 $20.72 $43,110
Bailiffs 420 $18.16 $37,760
Correctional Officers and Jailers 7,950 $16.60 $34,540
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Louisiana

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians 220 $23.75 $49,410
Source: BLS, May 2017

Many scholarship opportunities exist for students seeking careers in criminal justice. Eligibility for financial awards may require a written essay or minimum GPA. As a first step, all prospective students should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for grants, loans, and work-study awards.

The list below shows 10 available scholarships, including five for students seeking a career in the criminal justice field and five for degree candidates residing in Louisiana.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

Brian A. Terry Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: The Brian Terry Foundation, a nonprofit created in honor of fallen U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry, awards financial support for students interested in studying criminal justice or a related field of study. Students must write a personal essay and submit an application. View Scholarship

V.A. Leonard Scholarship $1,500

Who Can Apply: Established in 1982 to honor Dr. V.A. Leonard, who founded the Alpha Phi Sigma criminal justice honor society, this scholarship is awarded to a member of the honor society studying criminal justice or a related field. Applicants must submit transcripts, three papers based on writing prompts, and three letters of recommendation. The scholarship is open to Alpha Phi Sigma members only. View Scholarship

My Alarm Center $1,000

Who Can Apply: My Alarm Center awards a scholarship each year to a graduating high school senior, or a freshman or sophomore in college studying law enforcement, law, criminal justice, or a related field. Applicants must write a security-focused essay that responds to a writing prompt. View Scholarship

Crimcheck Criminal Justice Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: Crimcheck offers an annual scholarship to a recent high school graduate or college student pursuing a career in criminal justice. To be eligible, students must hold a minimum 3.0 GPA, submit transcripts with an application, and write an essay describing the applicant's ambitions and goals. View Scholarship

Out to Protect Scholarship $500-1,000

Who Can Apply: Out to Protect awards a scholarship to individuals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender who want to pursue a career in law enforcement by attending a law enforcement training program. The scholarship rewards individuals who serve as law enforcement role models. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Louisiana Residents

Claude L. Cockerham III Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: The Claude L. Cockerham III Criminal Justice Scholarship offers this award to high school seniors looking to enter the criminal justice profession. To be eligible, an applicant must graduate from East Ascension High School in Gonzales, Louisiana; pursue a postsecondary education in criminal justice or enter the U.S. armed forces; earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0; and participate in ROTC during high school. View Scholarship

George and Cecil Bedsole Endowed Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: This scholarship awards funds to graduates of high schools in Tangipahoa, Livingston, or St. Helena Parish. Applicants must hold a high school or college GPA of 3.0, show U.S. citizenship, and demonstrate full-time status as a criminal justice major. View Scholarship

Louisiana Sheriffs' Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office awards scholarships to full-time undergraduate students attending a college or university in Louisiana. The applicant must prove permanent residence of Jefferson Parish, enroll as a full-time undergraduate student, and use the funds at a school in Louisiana. Relatives of sheriff office employees may apply. View Scholarship

Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance Go Grant $300-3,000

Who Can Apply: This award provides college funds to students who need additional financial aid. To be eligible for a Go Grant, an applicant must reside in Louisiana, receive a Pell grant, complete the FAFSA, demonstrate remaining financial need, and enroll at least half time in a Louisiana educational institution. View Scholarship

Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Scholarship $500-2,500

Who Can Apply: Based on financial need and academic performance, the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation awards individual scholarships and grants to Louisiana high school students attending colleges or universities in the state. Students must reside in Louisiana, hold a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA in high school, submit a reference letter, earn an ACT score of 19 or better, graduate from a Louisiana high school, and enroll full time at a Louisiana college or university. View Scholarship

Law Enforcement Agencies in Louisiana

Professional Organizations

A professional organization provides criminal justice students and recent graduates with valuable career services and professional benefits. Associations provide members with networking opportunities, online discussion boards, discounts on products and services, job listings, professional publications, scholarship information, and access to the latest research in the field.

The list featured below shows six of the most common criminal justice professional organizations in Louisiana for individuals working in police departments, correctional institutions, and law offices.

Louisiana Correctional Association

Serving individuals working in the criminal justice field, this association provides information about effective methods used in modern institutional and community corrections on the state and local levels.

Louisiana State Troopers Association

A fraternal organization representing the men and women of the Louisiana State Police, this association works to improve pay and benefits, assure a better work environment, and provide professional support for members.

Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police

This association serves more than 350 municipal police departments in Louisiana, providing members with the latest police training, education, and information, as well as representation in the Louisiana State Legislature.

Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

LACD, the only association devoted to the criminal defense profession in Louisiana, offers members many benefits, including access to a membership directory, online discussion forums, award and scholarship opportunities, and the chance to attend meetings and seminars.

Louisiana State Bar Association

The LSBA provides members with a number of benefits, including resources for law students preparing for bar admissions, career services, law publications, discounted business services, and online resources. This association also provides legal resources for the public.

Louisiana Peace Officers Association

Dedicated to men and women serving and protecting the citizens of Louisiana, this association provides online resources to members and access to annual meetings.

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