Online Criminal Justice Degrees in North Carolina

North Carolina will continue to experience steady economic growth in the coming years. The North Carolina Department of Commerce projects that employment for all occupations in the state will grow 1.2% annually through 2024. This translates to roughly 1.6 million new jobs in the next several years.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce projects that employment for all occupations in the state will grow 1.2% annually through 2024.

Protective services occupations will account for approximately 35,000 of those job openings. Through 2024, the Department of Commerce projects that there will be more than 8,000 open positions for police and sheriff’s patrol officers, more than 5,000 positions for correctional officers and jailers, and more than 7,000 positions for security guards across the state.

Many of the jobs in this field, particularly the higher-paying positions in law enforcement management and investigation, require some kind of postsecondary education. Earning an online criminal justice degree in North Carolina can help you develop the skills and knowledge necessary to take advantage of these opportunities.

Earning an Online Criminal Justice Degree in North Carolina

There are many benefits to earning an online criminal justice degree in North Carolina. Online programs allow you to continue your education on your own terms. Instead of traveling to campus at a given time, you can watch lectures and complete course assignments whenever and wherever is most convenient for you. This kind of flexibility is particularly important to students who need to schedule their coursework around full-time jobs or family obligations.

Online programs can also be more affordable than on-campus programs. Because you are not limited by geography, you may be able to find a less expensive option at a school in a different area. Some schools do not charge online students for on-campus services such as athletic facilities. Distance learners also avoid paying for room and board, which can be a considerable expense.

Finally, local schools may not feature a program in the area you are hoping to study. Nearby colleges may not offer the same resources as schools that are farther away. Earning a criminal justice degree online in North Carolina allows you to select from a number of different public and private colleges throughout the state, making it more likely you can find a program that is the right fit for you.

Accredited Criminal Justice Programs in North Carolina

Attending an accredited school is vitally important. Accreditation ensures that schools meet certain educational standards and adequately prepare students for careers after graduation. If you attend an unaccredited school, you may not qualify for financial aid or be able to transfer your credits to another institution.

Students in North Carolina should look for schools accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

There are three types of accreditation: regional, national, and specialized. The most common and prestigious form is regional accreditation. Typically, nonprofit colleges and universities receive this form of accreditation. Six agencies grant regional accreditation to schools within their area. Students in North Carolina should look for schools accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) authorizes ten agencies to administer national accreditation. For the most part, nationally accredited schools focus on vocational skills. For-profit institutions also receive national accreditation.

Both regional and national accreditation apply to the school as a whole rather than specific programs. However, specialized accrediting agencies review programs in certain fields or disciplines. For example, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) accredits criminal justice programs.

You can review a database of all regionally, nationally, and specially accredited schools and programs on the ED website.

Education and Training Requirements for Criminal Justice Professionals in North Carolina

To become a law enforcement or corrections officer in North Carolina, you need a high school diploma or GED. However, you may have better advancement opportunities with a postsecondary degree.

For example, North Carolina’s professional certificate program rewards officers who choose to continue their education with higher salaries and promotion opportunities. One way of earning an intermediate law enforcement certificate is to complete an associate degree at an accredited institution. Officers with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and six years of experience qualify for an advanced law enforcement certificate. Professionals who earn a master’s degree in criminal justice can receive an advanced certificate with only four years of professional experience.

Some jobs may require professionals to hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field. For example, North Carolina requires all parole and probation officers to hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Residents of the state interested in working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation must also have, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Certain specialized roles, such as crime scene investigator, may require a master’s or doctoral degree.

Licensing, Registration, and Certification Requirements in North Carolina

In addition to a high school or postsecondary degree, all criminal justice professionals in North Carolina must also meet the licensing requirements for their chosen career. To become licensed law enforcement officers in North Carolina, candidates should be at least 20 years old and hold a high school diploma or GED. Individuals must complete the state’s basic law enforcement training and pass the relevant state exam. The North Carolina Justice Academy administers all law enforcement training.

Correctional officers must also hold a high school diploma to become licensed, but candidates can apply for these positions once they turn 18 years old. All corrections personnel must pass a physical ability test and complete a four-week academy that covers subjects such as self-defense and medical training.

In addition to a high school or postsecondary degree, all criminal justice professionals in North Carolina must also meet the licensing requirements for their chosen career.

All security guards in North Carolina, whether armed or unarmed, must register with the state’s Department of Public Safety. Unarmed security guards must be at least 18 years old, undergo a criminal background check, and complete 16 hours of training. Armed security guards must be at least 21 years old and complete additional training, including courses in firearms use and safety.

To receive a private investigator license in North Carolina, individuals should have at least three years of professional investigatory experience. Candidates without this level of experience can apply for an associate license and work underneath another licensed investigator.

Licenses do not automatically transfer from state to state. However, licensed criminal justice professionals from other states often meet many of the requirements for licensure in North Carolina. Regulations change often, so stay up-to-date on recent developments. Make sure to check with the proper state or local agency to ensure you follow the proper steps for licensure.

Criminal justice professionals can also pursue certification to demonstrate advanced expertise in a particular area. The North Carolina Justice Academy offers certificate programs in community policing, criminal investigation, tactical training, and management


Career and Salary Expectations

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean hourly wage for protective service occupations in North Carolina was $18.57 in May of 2017. At that same time, the mean annual salary for these jobs was $38,610. These figures fall below the average rates for all occupations both in the state and the nation as a whole. However, North Carolina’s cost of living falls below the national average, meaning your money goes farther in this state than it does elsewhere in the country.

Despite the relatively low levels of compensation, several criminal justice occupations in the state should experience considerable growth through 2024. Projections Central (PC), a clearinghouse for state economic data, projects that employment for police and sheriff’s patrol officers in North Carolina will grow by 7.9%. Similarly, PC projects that employment for security guards in the state will grow by 8.2% and employment for detectives and criminal investigators will grow by 5.4%.

The table below includes employment and compensation data for more than a dozen careers you may pursue after earning a North Carolina online criminal justice degree.

Protective Services Occupations in North Carolina

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Fire Inspectors and Investigators600$25.40$52,830
Detectives and Criminal Investigators2,880$28.72$59,730
Fish and Game Wardens350$20.05$41,700
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers23,370$22.81$47,440
Private Detectives and Investigators520$23.97$49,850
Security Guards24,860$13.99$29,110
Transportation Security Screeners1,110$18.63$38,760
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in North Carolina

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists2,810$20.76$43,190
Paralegals and Legal Assistants9,190$22.93$47,700
Court Reporters50$19.59$40,740
Correctional Officers and Jailers15,870$17.78$36,990
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in North Carolina

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians520$22.69$47,200
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers, Postsecondary1,930N/A$56,730
Source: BLS, May 2017

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Students pursuing criminal justice degrees in North Carolina can apply to a number of different scholarship programs. Some organizations offer scholarships specifically for students majoring in criminal justice, while others provide financial aid to all North Carolina residents attending a college or university in the state.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

Women in Federal Law Enforcement Scholarship Program $2,500

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is open to women pursuing a degree in criminal justice. Applicants must have completed at least one full year of college with a 3.0 GPA. View Scholarship

National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) Scholarships $1,500-2,500

Who Can Apply: To apply to any of NOBLE’s three scholarship programs, students must receive acceptance at an accredited academic institution and commit to working in the field of criminal justice. Students must also demonstrate financial need and hold a minimum 3.8 GPA. View Scholarship

Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: The American Correctional Association encourages minority students planning to work in criminal justice to apply for this award. Applicants must demonstrate financial need. View Scholarship

Crimcheck Criminal Justice Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: Crimcheck scholarship applicants must be pursuing postsecondary education with the intent of starting a career in criminal justice. Candidates must also have a 3.0 GPA. View Scholarship

Brian Terry Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: The Brian Terry Foundation awards scholarships to students currently seeking an undergraduate degree in criminal justice. View Scholarship

Scholarships for North Carolina Residents

Crumley Roberts Scholarship active: $2,500

Who Can Apply: To apply, students must have a 3.2 GPA or higher and plan to attend an accredited four-year college or university in North Carolina. View Scholarship

Florence Kidder Memorial Scholarship $1,000-3,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be high school seniors planning to attend a postsecondary institution in North Carolina. Candidates must also write an essay. View Scholarship

NC Sheriffs Association Undergraduate Criminal Justice Scholarship $2,000

Who Can Apply: This program is open to full-time undergraduates pursuing an on-campus or online criminal justice degree in North Carolina. Students must demonstrate financial need. View Scholarship

Winston-Salem Foundation Scholarships Varies

Who Can Apply: The Winston-Salem Foundation offers a variety of scholarships with different requirements. Some are strictly merit-based, while others primarily consider financial need. Students can apply for all scholarships through one application. View Scholarship

Resources for Criminal Justice Students in North Carolina

Law Enforcement Agencies in North Carolina

Professional Organizations

After earning an online criminal justice degree in North Carolina, you should consider joining a state or national professional organization. These organizations can help you network with other criminal justice professionals, access educational and professional development resources, and find new job opportunities in the field. Many of these organizations also work to negotiate better wages and working conditions for their members.

North Carolina Law Enforcement Women’s Association

NCLEWA serves women working in law enforcement agencies throughout the state. The association hosts an annual training conference and offers scholarships to female students pursuing criminal justice degrees in North Carolina.

North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police

NCACP represents senior police leaders working in the state. The association administers entry and promotional exams for law enforcement personnel.

North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police

With more than 6,000 members, NCFOP is the largest law enforcement organization in the state. The organization works to improve police working conditions and police-community relations.

North Carolina Criminal Justice Association

Serving all kinds of criminal justice professionals, the NCCJA organizes an annual networking conference, publishes a newsletter, gives awards to criminal justice students, and hosts a job board.

North Carolina Jail Administrators’ Association

NCJAA represents certified corrections personnel in the state. Alongside other educational resources, the organization provides a comprehensive guide for new jail administrators.

North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association

NCSA advocates on behalf of North Carolina’s 100 sheriffs. The association supports training programs for sheriff’s deputies and promotes collaboration among law enforcement agencies.

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