Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Pennsylvania
The general economic outlook in Pennsylvania remains fair. Forbes reports that Pennsylvania boasts the sixth largest economy in the U.S. and is home of 42 of the country’s largest 1,000 public and private companies. For those pursuing an online criminal justice degree in Pennsylvania, the state has much to offer.
Pennsylvania boasts the sixth largest economy in the U.S. and is home of 42 of the country’s largest 1,000 public and private companies
This moment presents a particularly salient time to gain criminal justice degrees in Pennsylvania. The Times Leader reports that Governor Tom Wolf recently partnered with legislators and advocacy groups to call for criminal justice reform. In a news release, Wolf outlined a package of initiatives for reform. If passed, these initiatives could offer exciting changes for students interested in pursuing an online criminal justice degree in Pennsylvania.
Earning an Online Criminal Justice Degree in Pennsylvania
Online criminal justice degrees in Pennsylvania, as opposed to more traditional on-campus options, provide several benefits to individuals pursuing higher education. Typically, an online criminal justice degree in Pennsylvania costs a bit less than campus-based programs, particularly for out-of-state students. When students complete their degree programs online, they entirely eliminate costs like on-campus housing, dining hall meal plans, and transportation to and from class.
Universities often conduct online courses asynchronously, which allows students to complete coursework on their own schedules. This provides more flexibility for students with outside obligations and responsibilities. Additionally, students can often customize their course loads to suit their time and ability. Students complete coursework and attend online classes remotely, which is not only convenient, but also allows students with limited mobility to break through the physical barriers to education.
Accredited Criminal Justice Programs in Pennsylvania
Proper accreditation ensures that a degree or program is reputable. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is the main regional accrediting agency for colleges in Pennsylvania, as recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The MSCHE is one of six regional accrediting agencies in the U.S. Students can usually transfer credits acquired through regionally accredited universities and institutions to other similarly accredited schools.
National accreditation, on the other hand, generally focuses more on schools and universities within a particular career track or involving a religious focus. Specialized or programmatic accreditation specifically gives accreditation to departments, programs, or schools within larger universities, which are typically accredited either nationally, regionally, or both. For more information for those seeking an accredited criminal justice degree online in Pennsylvania, students may browse the U.S. Department of Education’s database of accredited postsecondary institutions and programs.
Education and Training Requirements for Criminal Justice Professionals in Pennsylvania
Earning a Pennsylvania online criminal justice degree prepares students for a variety of careers. An associate degree or 60 semester credit hours meets the minimum education requirements for Pennsylvania state police cadets. Cadets also must hold either a GED or high school diploma, be U.S. citizens, have a valid Pennsylvania driver’s license, and be between the ages of 20 and 40. Associate degree holders can also find work as probation officers, legal assistants, corrections officers, insurance officers, campus security personnel, evidence technicians, and crime statistics analysts.
Completing a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in criminal justice will enhance your career prospects in the field. CriminalJustice.com features rankings for the best criminal justice bachelor’s degree programs and the best criminal justice master’s degree programs. Many criminal justice careers in Pennsylvania require additional training, such as police academy school or weapons training, while other jobs may call for specific licensing and registration.
Licensing, Registration, and Certification Requirements in Pennsylvania
Certain criminal justice careers and positions may require that practitioners to hold relevant licensure for the state in which they practice. For example, personnel who carry weapons, such as security guards, must typically be registered by the appropriate government authority. Although specific standards and rules may vary state-to-state, most states require applicants to complete training, be above the age of 18, and complete a background check. Generally, guards who carry weapons must fulfill more strenuous testing than their unarmed counterparts. While most surveillance and guard positions require applicants to have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent, most security occupations also require that applicants register themselves and their weapons with the state. Applicants may also need some experience with video surveillance and familiarity with security work.
Pennsylvania’s private investigator requirements vary by county, but the Private Detective Act of 1953 requires three years of investigative experience
Some criminal justice professionals must obtain specific certifications required for their career. Private investigator license requirements, for example, change from state-to-state. Pennsylvania’s private investigator requirements vary by county, but the Private Detective Act of 1953 requires three years of investigative experience. In Pennsylvania, a county judge must issue each private investigator license.
Although a licensed occupation typically calls for state licensing, some jobs may require particular certifications. Depending on the license or certification, some may allow multi-state provisions, while others maintain that applicants must obtain each certification or license within each state or department they will practice. For example, the constable and deputy constable training and certification program falls within the territory of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. This certification program requires 80 hours of basic training and 40 hours of basic firearms training, but offers an optional 20 hours of advanced firearms training. Continuing education requires an annual 20 hours of training while also offering an optional 16 hours of additional training.
Career and Salary Expectations
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly wage for all protective service occupations in Pennsylvania is $21.54, and the annual mean wage is $44,800. There are plenty of jobs in the field: there are nearly 130,000 Pennsylvanians currently employed in protective services and another 43,000 employed in legal occupations. The mean hourly wage for legal occupations in Pennsylvania is $50.18, and the mean annual wage $104,360.
The tables below break down these employment numbers, and provide information on the average hourly wage and average annual wage for protective services, court and corrections, and other criminal justice occupations in Pennsylvania.
Protective Services Occupations in Pennsylvania
|Average Hourly Wage
|Average annual Wage
|Fire Inspectors and Investigators
|Detectives and Criminal Investigators
|Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers
|Private Detectives and Investigators
|Transportation Security Screeners
Court and Corrections Occupations in Pennsylvania
|Average Hourly Wage
|Average annual Wage
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists
|Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates
|Paralegals and Legal Assistants
|Correctional Officers and Jailers
Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Pennsylvania
|Average Hourly Wage
|Average annual Wage
|Forensic Science Technicians
|Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Many students require some form of financial aid or assistance to complete college degree programs. A plethora of scholarships are available to help students in need. There are also awards specifically designated for criminal justice students and learners from Pennsylvania. The following selection features a few examples of scholarships offered to criminal justice students in general, and then a sample of Pennsylvania student scholarships.
Criminal Justice Scholarships
Alpha Phi Sigma Undergraduate Best Paper Scholarship $150-$500
Brian Terry Foundation Scholarship Program Varies
Crimcheck Criminal Justice Scholarship $500
My Alarm Center Student Scholarship $1,000
Ruth D. Peterson Fellowship for Racial and Ethnic Diversity $6,000
Scholarships for Pennsylvania Residents
NAAAP Philadelphia Future Leaders Scholarship Program $1,000
The Beverly J. Smith Memorial Scholarship $2,500
Pennsylvania Chafee Education and Training Grant Program Varies
Postsecondary Educational Gratuity Program Varies
Horatio Alger State Scholarship $10,000
Resources for Criminal Justice Students in Pennsylvania
Law Enforcement Agencies in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
- Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole
- Pennsylvania State Police
- Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
- Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board
Joining a professional organization benefits both students pursuing criminal justice degrees in Pennsylvania and professionals in the field. Professional organizations vary, but most offer members networking opportunities for establishing useful contacts, job search assistance, educational resources, and additional members-only perks.
Since the early 1980s, the PACJE has been committed to nurturing criminal justice education in training centers and academic settings statewide.
A professional bar association, the NACJL began operations in 1958. The NACJL has about 40,000 attorneys in 90 affiliate organizations on the provincial, local, and state levels.
An association serving more than 2,000 plaintiffs attorneys, PAJustice provides education and information resources to its members and the public regarding courtroom processes and citizens’ constitutional rights.
Members of the ASC include professionals, students, and academics involved in criminal justice, criminology, or a related field. This international organization serves members all over the world.
The NCJA advocates for criminal justice related policy-making and funding for justice assistance programs covering a versatile range of topics, such as drug treatment, corrections, local law enforcement, violent crime reduction, and pretrial justice reform.