Online Criminal Justice Degrees in New Jersey

New Jersey has a higher-than-average household income and a low unemployment rate. The state's prosperous economy is one reason many students choose to earn criminal justice degrees in New Jersey. Although property taxes in the state are higher than average, New Jersey has relatively low income and sales taxes.

New Jersey's violent crime rate is below the national average, largely due to the efforts of the state's criminal justice professionals. NeighborhoodScout

After earning an online criminal justice degree, New Jersey graduates can pursue roles as police officers, fraud investigators, criminal psychologists, and court interpreters. Criminal justice is a broad field with many specialization areas such as consumer affairs, substance control, law, and agricultural regulation. According to NeighborhoodScout, New Jersey's violent crime rate is below the national average, largely due to the efforts of the state's criminal justice professionals.

Online learning is an increasingly popular option for students. As tuition rates continue to rise, online programs offer an affordable alternative to on-campus learning. By earning an online criminal justice degree, New Jersey students can save money on campus fees, housing, and textbooks. Additionally, many online programs charge out-of-state students the equivalent of in-state tuition rates. Distance learning also provides flexibility for busy students; while some programs include synchronous elements, many are entirely asynchronous, allowing students to complete coursework at their convenience.

Distance learning is ideal for working professionals. By earning an online criminal justice degree, New Jersey students can continue working full time. For students who prefer face-to-face learning but need the flexibility of an online program, many schools offer hybrid programs that combine on-campus and online learning. Hybrid programs typically schedule on-campus classes on weekends or during evenings. Employers do not differentiate between online and on-campus degrees, making distance learning an affordable, convenient option that does not sacrifice quality or hinder career prospects.

Prospective students should ensure any school they consider holds accreditation. Accreditation demonstrates that an institution or program meets certain standards of quality. Attending an accredited school is crucial to ensuring future employers and other institutions recognize earned degrees and credits.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education awards regional accreditation to New Jersey institutions.

The two main types of institutional accreditation are national and regional. National accreditation is typically reserved for schools focused on vocational and career training. Regional accreditation is the most widely recognized and respected. Regional accreditation standards are more stringent, and attending a regionally accredited school ensures credits will transfer and that students are eligible for financial aid.

The Middle States Commission on Higher Education awards regional accreditation to New Jersey institutions. Many programs also receive specialized, field-specific accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education maintains a searchable database of accredited institutions and programs.

Careers in criminal justice require various education levels. After earning a criminal justice degree online, New Jersey graduates qualify for most entry-level positions. Associate degree holders qualify for positions as paralegals, research analysts, community corrections officers, and probation officers. A bachelor's in criminal justice prepares students for positions in crime scene investigation, immigration and customs enforcement, computer forensics investigation, and government. Professionals with a master's in criminal justice are eligible for specialized roles in law, security, and criminology.

While many careers in the field require only a high school education, candidates with an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree in criminal justice are more competitive for positions and qualify for advanced roles. Some occupations require additional training or experience. For example, aspiring police officers must complete academy training. Those who want to become judges must first gain years of experience as a lawyer.

After earning a criminal justice degree online, New Jersey professionals must often obtain additional credentials. Candidates for criminal justice positions must typically meet age requirements and health restrictions, in addition to completing specialized training. Licensing requirements vary by position and state. Private detectives in any state must pass a physical test and must demonstrate proficiency in state, local, and federal legislation. Security professionals must understand the law, and those who carry firearms must register with the appropriate government agency.

Criminal justice professionals typically need licensure, and many pursue certification.

Criminal justice professionals typically need licensure, and many pursue certification. Certification is a voluntary credential that helps professionals advance their careers. A license qualifies the holder to work in a specific occupation. Candidates for licensure must demonstrate job-specific knowledge through state-sanctioned testing and adequate physical ability.

Criminal justice positions have varying requirements. Roles within the police force require specialized certifications. Operators must complete a three-year certification process comprising instruction and practical training. Instructors complete all requirements for operators, along with formal academy training and further instruction.

Salaries for criminal justice and protective services positions vary by industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), New Jersey individuals in protective services occupations earn a mean hourly wage of $26.78 and an annual mean wage of $55,700. These wages are above the national averages for protective services professionals, which lie at $22.69 per hour and $47,190 per year.

The criminal justice industry maintains consistent demand for qualified professionals. The declining crime rates in New Jersey reflect the value the state places on criminal justice professionals. The tables below highlight average salaries, hourly wages, and employment by occupation in the protective service and court and corrections fields.

Protective Services Occupations in New Jersey

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Firefighters 5,530 $36.48 $75,880
Fire Inspectors and Investigators 1,290 $26.19 $54,480
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 3,090 $48.55 $100,980
Fish and Game Wardens N/A N/A N/A
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers 19,580 $40.18 $83,570
Private Detectives and Investigators 710 $32.27 $67,130
Security Guards 39,160 $15.05 $31,310
Transportation Security Screeners 1,230 $20.97 $43,610
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in New Jersey

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 2,820 $36.84 $76,630
Lawyers 20,730 $67.47 $140,340
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates 1,020 $72.24 $150,260
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 8,060 $29.64 $61,650
Court Reporters N/A $28.09 $58,420
Bailiffs 90 $23.64 $49,180
Correctional Officers and Jailers 10,800 $33.85 $70,400
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in New Jersey

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians 70 $26.38 $54,860
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary 500 N/A $82,740
Source: BLS, May 2017

To finance their online criminal justice degrees, New Jersey students can pursue local and national scholarship opportunities. Many scholarships are available only to students attending accredited institutions. New Jersey students can apply for state-specific scholarships and awards reserved for criminal justice students. The awards below are available to New Jersey residents and those pursuing a degree in the criminal justice field.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

George A. Strait Minority Scholarships Varies

Who Can Apply: These annual scholarships support members of minority groups, as defined by the U.S. government. Applicants must be pursuing master's or doctoral degree in legal studies. View Scholarship

Captain James J. Regan Memorial Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is awarded to high school seniors and college students attending an accredited criminal justice program. The selection committee considers each applicant's extracurricular involvement, academic performance, and personal statement. View Scholarship

Ritchie Jennings Memorial Scholarship $10,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports learners who are pursuing an education in criminal justice. Students planning to pursue a career in anti-fraud work receive preference. View Scholarship

Out to Protect Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: Out to Protect offers this scholarship to LGBT students who are pursuing an associate, bachelor's, or master's degree in law enforcement. View Scholarship

Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Award $1,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports members of minority groups. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and a commitment to earning a degree in criminal justice or a related field. Applicants must submit an essay about the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. View Scholarship

Scholarships for New Jersey Residents

AAA South Jersey Scholarship Program $5,000

Who Can Apply: This annual essay contest supports high school seniors planning to attend an accredited two- or four-year institution. Multiple winners are selected each year. Applicants must submit an essay on an assigned topic. View Scholarship

AAHA Lou Manzione Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: The Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association awards this scholarship to high school students pursuing higher education. Applicants must be residents of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Delaware. View Scholarship

Betsy Niles Scholarship $5,000

Who Can Apply: Offered in memory of children's book editor Betsy Niles, this scholarship supports high school seniors accepted into an accredited college program. Applicants must be awareness advocates or have been personally affected by tissue donation and transplantation. View Scholarship

Camden County American Association of University Women Varies

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be female residents of Camden, Gloucester, or Burlington counties and must have completed at least one year of postsecondary education. Current college students are considered on an individual basis. View Scholarship

CBC Spouses Education Scholarship $8,200

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to African-American or black students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree full time. Applicants must have have a minimum 2.5 GPA. View Scholarship

Law Enforcement Agencies in New Jersey

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations help individuals connect with peers in the field. Professional organizations exist for most industries and provide members with access to organization connections, networking events, career services, and research. Below are several professional organizations open to students and professionals in the criminal justice field.

National Criminal Justice Association

NCIA represents state, local, and tribal governments and focuses on the prevention of crime. Members comprise professionals in various positions within the criminal justice and juvenile justice fields.

American Correctional Association

Founded as the National Prison Association in 1870, the ACA serves corrections professionals. The association works to maintain standards of correctional effectiveness.

American Probation and Parole Association

APPA empowers, challenges, and serves members through training, education, communication, and influence. The organization unites corrections across the nation.

International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology

This organization provides convicted criminals with mental health care and promotes research on the nature of criminal behavior. The majority of members are behavioral scientists.

American Polygraph Association

The APA provides a trustworthy and reliable means with which to verify the truth. The association establishes high standards of ethical, professional, and moral conduct in the field of polygraph sciences.

American Society of Criminology

ASC is an in international community concerned with criminology and the prevention, control, and treatment of delinquency. The organization creates a multidisciplinary forum and promotes criminology research.

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