Online Criminal Justice Degrees in South Carolina

Law enforcement professionals protect property, solve crimes, save lives, and maintain the safety of communities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job openings in protective service occupations to grow 5% from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the national average for all occupations. South Carolina has a low cost of living, and its growing economy offers plenty of opportunities for criminal justice professionals.

job openings in protective service occupations to grow 5% from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the national average for all occupations BLS

Many criminal justice professionals work for local, state, or county police departments, and others pursue careers as private investigators. After earning an online criminal justice degree, South Carolina graduates qualify for advanced leadership roles. A graduate degree helps current law enforcement and criminal justice professionals secure positions as college professors, researchers, and policy analysts.

Offered through many institutions in South Carolina, online criminal justice degrees provide the flexibility for students to work full time while pursuing their degree. Online programs are ideal for busy students with personal or professional obligations and offer the same quality education as on-campus programs.

Earning an Online Criminal Justice Degree in South Carolina

After earning an online criminal justice degree, South Carolina graduates pursue careers as law enforcement professionals, juvenile justice officers, private investigators, and probation officers. A bachelor’s degree helps established professionals advance their careers. Other students use their undergraduate education as a route to a new occupation. For students planning to pursue an online criminal justice degree, South Carolina colleges and universities offer a variety of options. Flexible online programs allow students to balance education with family responsibilities and professional commitments.

Online courses include the same content and are typically taught by the same professors as on-campus classes, meaning online students receive the same quality education as on-campus students

Online learners study anywhere, at any time, according to their schedule and lifestyle. Online courses include the same content and are typically taught by the same professors as on-campus classes, meaning online students receive the same quality education as on-campus students. Many criminal justice degrees in South Carolina require an internship or a hands-on learning project, which distance learners complete at a local police station, law office, or other site.

Online degrees are often more affordable than on-campus programs. Although tuition rates are typically the same, distance education students save money on student housing, meal plans, transportation, and childcare. Online students can also maintain full-time or part-time employment while earning their degrees.

Accredited Criminal Justice Programs in South Carolina

Before pursuing an online criminal justice degree, South Carolina students should ensure their school holds accreditation. Accreditation is a voluntary process that involves an extensive review of a school’s services and programs. An institution’s accreditation status impacts credit transfer options, eligibility for financial aid, and credibility with future employers.

The two main types of institutional accreditation are regional and national. Regional accreditation is the most recognized type of accreditation in the United States. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges awards regional accreditation to schools offering criminal justice degrees in South Carolina. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) maintains a database of accredited programs and institutions.

Not all national accreditors hold recognition from the ED. Degrees and credits earned from nationally accredited institutions rarely transfer to regionally accredited schools, and employers may not recognize degrees earned from schools with national accreditation. Programs may hold specialized, field-specific accreditation. Criminal justice programs may hold certification from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Education and Training Requirements for Criminal Justice Professionals in South Carolina

Criminal justice professions require different education and training. Some occupations require only a high school diploma, while candidates for other positions in the field must hold an advanced degree. Private security guards, corrections officers, and private investigators need only a high school education, and county police officers, city officers, and paralegals must have an associate degree; however, bachelor’s degree holders are more competitive candidates for these positions. Fish and game wardens, police supervisors, detectives, Federal Bureau of Investigation officers, and forensic science technicians all need at least a four-year degree.

Some criminal justice careers require a master’s degree. Police chiefs posts, criminal justice professorships, and managerial positions require a graduate degree. For most criminal justice professions, formal education is only part of the necessary background. Many criminal justice positions in South Carolina require licensure; professionals including state troopers and corrections officers complete intense, specialized training to qualify for a state license.

Licensing, Registration, and Certification Requirements in South Carolina

Most criminal justice professionals work in state or local government agencies, though some work for corporations or as private investigators. Nearly every criminal justice occupation requires a state license, which qualifies the holder to legally practice a specific profession. Certification, on the other hand, is a voluntary credential that demonstrates the holder’s competence in an area. Both private association and government agencies often award certification.

In the criminal justice field, license and certification requirements vary by occupation. For example, most security guards must complete training and pass a background check. In South Carolina, security guards apply through their employer for a license from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Private investigators in South Carolina, including computer forensics investigators, must also hold a license from SLED.

Candidates for licensure must be at least 18 years old and must pass a background check; armed candidates must be at least 21 years old. To own their own business, private investigators must show at least three years of full-time employment as an investigating police officer or a registered employee at a licensed private investigation firm. Formal training may count toward the required experience. South Carolina private investigators cannot transfer their license to another state.

Those working in South Carolina Department of Corrections’ facilities need to complete a 40-hour orientation. To receive the Correctional Officer Certification, officers must undergo an additional 172-hour training program over five months that includes instruction in self-defense, firearms, and physical agility. South Carolina State Troopers attend the South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCHP) Training Program. These regulations can change so job-seekers should be aware of any recent updates to these requirements by going to the appropriate South Carolina government website.

Career and Salary Expectations

South Carolina’s natural beauty and low cost of living attracts many individuals to study and work in the state. According to the BLS, South Carolina’s unemployment rate is 4.4% and according to economists at the Greenville News, the state’s labor shortage creates ample job opportunities for residents. The automotive and aerospace industries drive much of the state’s economic growth.

the mean wage for all occupations in South Carolina is $42,240 per year, or $20.31 per hour

After earning a criminal justice degree online, South Carolina professionals earn competitive salaries. According to the BLS, the mean wage for all occupations in South Carolina is $42,240 per year, or $20.31 per hour. South Carolina residents in protective service occupations earn an annual mean wage of $37,460. However, positions that require a criminal justice degree, such as police supervisors and detectives, earn higher salaries. In South Carolina, police supervisors and detectives earn mean wages of more than $60,000 per year.

Additionally, South Carolina has a low cost of living; the cost of living in Greenville County, for example, is 5% lower than the national average, according to PayScale. Even the state’s most expensive place to live, Charleston County, is only 4% above the national average. The tables below highlight common careers for professionals with criminal justice degrees in South Carolina.

Protective Services Occupations in South Carolina

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Fire Inspectors and Investigators290$23.35$48,560
Detectives and Criminal Investigators1,140$28.96$60,250
Fish and Game Wardens40$22.99$47,820
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers11,890$20.35$42,330
Private Detectives and Investigators250$23.29$48,450
Security Guards15,220$14.40$29,960
Transportation Security Screeners410$17.22$35,820
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in South Carolina

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists420$21.32$44,350
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates660$27.24$56,670
Paralegals and Legal Assistants5,350$21.44$44,590
Court Reporters160$23.29$48,450
Correctional Officers and Jailers6,630$17.17$35,710
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in South Dakota

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians110$22.81$47,450
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers160N/A$75,400
Source: BLS, May 2017

Scholarships and Financial Aid

South Carolina maintains three state-sponsored scholarship programs to help residents attain higher education. Private organizations in South Carolina also offer scholarships. Aspiring criminal justice majors can pursue awards specifically for students in the field, including at least one scholarship reserved for South Carolina residents pursuing a degree in criminal justice.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

Irlet Anderson Scholarship Award $2,500

Who Can Apply: The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives awards this annual scholarship to a graduating high school senior who has been accepted to college and plans to earn a degree in a field related to law enforcement. View Scholarship

Crimcheck Criminal Justice Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be high school seniors, graduates, or current college students who hold at least a 3.0 GPA and plan to enroll in a criminal justice program. The selection committee considers ambition, scholarship, leadership, and commitment. View Scholarship

My Alarm Center Student Scholarships $1,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to high school seniors, college freshmen, and college sophomores studying criminal justice or law enforcement. Applicants must not be related to My Alarm Center staff. View Scholarship

Brian Terry Scholarship Award Varies

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be U.S. citizens graduating from high school who plan to attend an accredited criminal justice program. Applicants must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and must submit a personal essay and two reference letters. View Scholarship

David M. Cline Scholarship $2,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be South Carolina residents who are graduating from a public or private high school in the state. Applicants must intend to pursue a degree in criminal justice, forensic science, or law enforcement at a South Carolina college or university. View Scholarship

Scholarships for South Carolina Residents

The Rice Vinskus Scholarship $2,500

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports students with parents who have or have had breast cancer. Applicants must have a minimum 2.5 GPA, must be a South Carolina resident, and must enroll at an accredited, four-year college or university. View Scholarship

The J. E. Sirrine Scholarship Program $2,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must have graduated from a Greenville County charter high school or a Greenville County public high school. Sirrine scholarships are renewable for up to four years. View Scholarship

Life Scholarship $5,000

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be attending a South Carolina public or private institution, must have a GPA of at least 3.0, must have at least an 1100 SAT score or 24 ACT score, and must have graduated in the top 30% of their high school class. View Scholarship

Palmetto Fellows Scholarship $6,700-$10,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports academically talented students in South Carolina. Applicants must have scored at least 1200 on the SAT, must have a minimum 3.5 GPA, and must rank in the top 6% of their sophomore or junior class can apply. View Scholarship

The SC HOPE Scholarship Program $2,800

Who Can Apply: Applicants must be South Carolina residents who hold a high school diploma with at least a 3.0 GPA and who plan to attend a South Carolina college full time. Applicants must not have received a LIFE Scholarship, a Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, or Lottery Tuition Assistance. View Scholarship

Resources for Criminal Justice Students in South Carolina

Law Enforcement Agencies in South Carolina

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations help members advance their careers by providing national and regional networking events, opportunities for leadership, access to the latest research, and career services. Many of these organizations serve a specific niche of criminal justice professionals. Some focus on improving professional practices, while others promote the growth of knowledge in the field.

Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences

This international association works to advance scholarly and professional practice in the field. ACJS publishes numerous journals and hosts an annual conference. The organization also certifies academic programs and maintains an employment bulletin.

American Jail Association

Local correctional officers can attend AJA’s annual conference, earn certifications, submit articles for publication in the newsletter, and take classes through the online training institute.

American Probation and Parole Association

APPA is an international association that works with federal, state, local, tribal, and provincial government agencies to represent all those vested in the parole and probation systems.

Justice Research and Statistics Association

JRSA uses research and analysis to inform criminal and juvenile justice decision makers. The association publishes an academic journal and supports research and analysis centers across the country.

National Black Police Association

The NBPA hosts an annual education and training conference, maintains an online job board, and provides scholarships to qualifying criminal justice students. The association also selects award recipients for meritorious service and humanitarian action.

Southern Criminal Justice Association

The regional affiliate of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, SCJA provides an annual conference, an official journal, professional awards, and a job list to members in 11 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

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