Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Ohio

The state of Ohio is currently experiencing increased wages and employment opportunities. A survey conducted by PNC Financial Services found that 40% of business owners in Ohio expect to increase wages for their employees in 2018. Roughly one-third of those owners plan to hire additional full-time staff this year. The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) projects that employment will continue to grow through 2024, with approximately 170,000 new jobs being added to the state each year.

employment will continue to grow through 2024, with approximately 170,000 new jobs being added to the state each year Ohio Department of Job and Family Services

Employment in protective service occupations will grow at a slower, albeit steady, rate of 3.7% during that same period. ODJFS anticipates the need for more than 800 police and sheriff's patrol officers in the state each year, along with nearly 600 security guards and close to 400 correctional officers and jailers.

Earning an online criminal justice degree in Ohio can position you to take advantage of these opportunities. You can pursue an online associate degree at one of the state's community colleges to prepare for an entry-level job in the field. Many public and private universities in Ohio also offer online bachelor's and master's programs in criminal justice, equipping you with the skills and knowledge needed for jobs in law enforcement management, federal corrections, or crime scene investigation.

Students can pursue criminal justice degrees in Ohio both online and in-person. While it is important to pick the kind of learning that is right for you, online programs offer a number of benefits, especially for students balancing studies with work or family obligations.

For instance, students can complete online courses on their own schedules from the comfort of their own homes. Many programs do not require students to log in at certain times. However, online classes usually require students to watch lectures and submit assignments by particular deadlines. Students can usually take their exams online, though some programs may require students to travel to a proctored test center near them.

Online programs can be less expensive as well. While most schools charge similar rates for online and on-campus learning, some colleges offer discounts for distance learners. Online students also avoid paying for room and board. Some schools exempt distance learners from paying fees associated with campus services such as athletic or medical facilities.

Finally, online programs give students more academic options. Because you are not limited by geography, you may be able to find a program of study -- like criminal justice technology -- that is not available at your local college or university.

When researching criminal justice degrees online in Ohio, make sure to find a program that is accredited. Accreditation ensures that schools meet certain educational standards and prepare students for relevant careers. Attending an accredited school also ensures that you qualify for financial aid and can transfer your credits to another institution.

Employers and other colleges generally prefer degrees from regionally accredited schools since they meet higher standards and undergo a more rigorous process

There are three types of accreditation: regional, national, and specialized. Six agencies administer regional accreditation in the United States. Most nonprofit colleges and universities receive regional accreditation. Employers and other colleges generally prefer degrees from regionally accredited schools since they meet higher standards and undergo a more rigorous process. The regional accrediting agency for the state of Ohio is the Higher Learning Commission.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) authorizes 10 bodies to oversee national accreditation. For the most part, for-profit schools and vocational institutions receive this form of accreditation.

Specialized accrediting agencies review programs in a specific field or discipline. For example, law schools may receive specialized accreditation from the American Bar Association. The Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences grants accreditation to certain criminal justice programs.

You can review a database of all accredited postsecondary institutions and programs on the ED website.

For most criminal justice jobs in the state, you will need at least a high school diploma or GED. However, earning an online criminal justice degree in Ohio may improve your job opportunities and salary potential.

For example, while not a requirement, some county sheriffs explicitly state that they prefer to hire deputies with at least an associate degree in criminal justice or a related field. Likewise, admission to the Ohio State Highway Patrol training academy is highly competitive, and candidates with a bachelor's degree hold a significant advantage.

A bachelor's degree in criminal justice may qualify you for federal jobs and more advanced positions in state law enforcement agencies. For example, individuals must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation or one of Ohio's federal correctional institutions. Similarly, many managerial and investigatory positions at state and local law enforcement agencies require candidates to have a four-year degree.

Some specialized roles in the field, such as crime scene investigator or forensic science technician, may require a master's degree in criminal justice or another field. In addition to having a diploma or degree, all criminal justice professionals must also meet the licensing and training requirements of their chosen occupation.

To become a licensed law enforcement officer in Ohio, candidates must enroll in a peace officer basic training academy approved by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission (OPOTC). Entry requirements for these academies vary, but generally, candidates must be at least 21 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, meet certain physical standards, and pass a criminal background check. Graduates of these academies qualify for positions in most local law enforcement agencies.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol maintains a separate licensing process. Rather than attending a basic training academy, highway patrol candidates must attend a 24-26 week paramilitary training academy in Columbus. The physical and academic requirements are more rigorous than those for other law enforcement officers in the state.

To work as a corrections officer, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, pass a written and physical assessment, and undergo a background check

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction licenses corrections personnel in the state. To work as a corrections officer, applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, pass a written and physical assessment, and undergo a background check.

Armed security guards and private investigators must receive a license from the state's Department of Public Safety. Security guards must complete firearms training, pass a criminal background check, and work for a licensed private security company. Private investigators must have an acceptable combination of education and professional experience, either as law enforcement officers or members of the military.

Licenses do not automatically transfer from state to state, so it is important to check with the proper state or local authority to make sure you have the met the requirements for a position in law enforcement, corrections, or private security.

In addition to licensure, many criminal justice professionals seek certification to demonstrate their expertise in a given area. For example, the OPOTC offers certificates in areas such as traffic collision investigation, court security screening, and weapons instruction. Certification may help you earn a promotion or a higher salary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean hourly wage for protective service occupations in Ohio was $20.99 in May of 2017. At that same time, the mean annual salary for these jobs was $43,660. These are slightly below the average pay rates for all other occupations both in the state and the nation as a whole. However, Ohio's cost of living falls below the national average, meaning your money goes farther in this state than it does in other areas of the country.

Several criminal justice occupations in the state should experience noticeable growth through 2024. Projections Central, a clearinghouse for state level economic data, projects that employment for police and sheriff's patrol officers in Ohio will grow by 3.7%. Similarly, PC projects that employment for security guards will grow by 4.4% and employment for first-line supervisors of police and detectives will grow by 3.3%.

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

Protective Services Occupations in Ohio

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Firefighters 18,670 $22.46 $46,710
Fire Inspectors and Investigators 340 $30.36 $63,150
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 2,020 $34.86 $72,500
Fish and Game Wardens 130 $29.83 $62,040
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers 24,950 $28.50 $59,280
Private Detectives and Investigators 1,130 $20.33 $42,290
Security Guards 33,580 $14.63 $30,430
Transportation Security Screeners 760 $19.46 $40,490
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Ohio

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 2,970 $23.76 $49,420
Lawyers 1,626 $54.62 $113,610
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates 2,420 $38.88 $80,870
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 7,820 $23.23 $48,310
Court Reporters 470 $22.60 $47,000
Bailiffs 1,460 $21.95 $45,660
Correctional Officers and Jailers 13,100 $20.67 $43,000
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Ohio

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average Annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians 400 $31.68 $65,890
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers 440 N/A $85,270
Source: BLS, May 2017

Scholarships are the best way to pay for an online criminal justice degree in Ohio. Unlike loans, students do not need to pay back scholarships and grants once they graduate. You can apply to scholarship programs that specifically serve students majoring in criminal justice, or you can seek out scholarships available to all Ohio residents. You can also research scholarships offered by local businesses, professional associations, and state governments.

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 gain acceptance into an accredited academic institution and commit to working in the field of criminal justice. Applicants 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 recipients must be pursuing postsecondary education with the intent of starting a career in criminal justice. Students 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 Ohio Residents

Beat the Odds Scholarship $5,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be current high school seniors with a 3.0 GPA. Candidates must also have overcome significant adversity. View Scholarship

Ohio College Opportunity Grant Varies

Who Can Apply: To apply, students must enroll at a postsecondary institution in Ohio and earn a household income of less than $96,000. View Scholarship

Ohio War Orphans Scholarship $6,398

Who Can Apply: This program is open to Ohio residents whose parents died or became severely disabled during service in the armed forces. Students must also have a 2.0 GPA. View Scholarship

Ohio Safety Officers College Memorial Fund $7,044

Who Can Apply: This scholarship assists children and spouses of peace officers and firefighters who died in the line of duty. View Scholarship

Don Schmidt Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: To apply, students must be residents of the state, hold a 3.0 GPA, and plan to pursue a parks administration degree, law enforcement degree, or criminal justice degree in Ohio. View Scholarship

Law Enforcement Agencies in Ohio

Professional Organizations

After you have completed your online criminal justice degree in Ohio, you should consider joining a professional organization. These groups provide networking opportunities through conferences and events, continuing education, and professional development opportunities. Members can also find employment through job listings. Many of these organizations advocate for improved criminal justice policy, higher wages, and better working conditions for criminal justice professionals.

Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police

OACP serves senior law enforcement executives working in the state. The association advocates for more effective criminal justice policies, supports the training of Ohio police officers, and coordinates law enforcement activities at the state and national level.

Ohio Crime Prevention Association

OCPA brings together law enforcement officers, government officials, business owners, and community residents to prevent crime in the state. The association offers training and accreditation for crime prevention specialists.

Ohio Law Enforcement Foundation

LEF works to deepen the connection between law enforcement agencies and the communities they represent. The foundation also certifies DARE and school resource officers.

Ohio Community Corrections Association

OCCA represents community corrections service providers in the state. The association organizes an annual networking conference and provides continuing education opportunities to corrections personnel.

Ohio Chapter of the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice

Created to serve the unique needs of African Americans in criminal justice occupations, the Ohio chapter of the NABCJ works to ensure adequate minority representation in criminal justice practice and policy.

Ohio Association of Security and Investigation Services

OASIS supports private investigators and security guards through legislative and legal advocacy. The organization provides an online directory for employers looking to hire members.

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