Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Texas

If you want to earn an online criminal justice degree, Texas is a good place to do so. Forbes ranks Texas as the top state in the nation for its economic climate. The state’s strong employment numbers and competitive workforce draw some of the country’s biggest companies. Texas also boasts a large population, rich natural resources, and competitive institutions of higher learning.

Nationally, Texas ranks fourth for most police and law enforcement personnel

Criminal justice professionals are in high demand in Texas. The state is known for being tough on crime, and employs about 73,000 sworn peace officers, one for every 330 people. Nationally, Texas ranks fourth for most police and law enforcement personnel. Some cite its large population, liberal gun laws, and tough on crime reputation as contributors to the large number of criminal justice professionals in the state.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice consistently posts job openings in a variety of areas. The state offers recruiting bonuses of up to $5,000 to attract new correctional officers. For students interested in earning a criminal justice degree online, Texas is a great state to find schools and employment opportunities.

Earning an Online Criminal Justice Degree in Texas

Students can choose from a variety of online criminal justice degrees in Texas. Online programs offer many benefits, including flexibility, convenience, and affordability. Distance learners can complete coursework from anywhere with an internet connection. Asynchronous classes allow students to watch lectures and read materials on their own schedules. Consequently, students can earn an education while still working full time or tending to family obligations.

By not commuting to a physical campus, online students save significant time and money. Some schools offer discounted tuition rates for eLearning courses. Online learners also avoid room and board costs, on-campus fees, and expenses such as parking. Many schools let out-of-state distance learners pay in-state tuition.

Distance learning students can choose from any online program in the country. These students do not need to limit themselves to programs within commuting distance. Instead, they can choose the school that most closely aligns with their academic interests and career goals.

Accredited Criminal Justice Programs in Texas

When you look for Texas online criminal justice degrees, make sure you find a program at an accredited college or university. Accreditation is a voluntary process that schools undergo to demonstrate they meet certain standards agreed on by the larger academic community. By choosing an accredited school, students can be confident they will receive a high-quality education.

Accreditation is a voluntary process that schools undergo to demonstrate they meet certain standards agreed on by the larger academic community

Several different types of accreditation exist: regional, national, and specialized. Each type has its own accrediting agencies. Regional and national accrediting agencies both provide accreditation to schools as a whole. Regional accreditation is more prestigious than the other forms because it requires the highest standards and a multi-year process. Academically focused schools typically receive this form of accreditation. The main regional accrediting agency for colleges and universities in Texas is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

National accreditation, on the other hand, usually goes to for-profit schools and vocational institutions. Students who attend unaccredited schools or nationally accredited schools may not receive financial aid and may not be able to transfer credits.

Specialized accrediting agencies, on the other hand, assess specific academic programs within a school. For example, the American Bar Association reviews all law schools in the U.S. You can search the U.S. Department of Education’s database of accredited postsecondary institutions to ensure that your school is accredited.

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Education and Training Requirements for Criminal Justice Professionals in Texas

Criminal justice jobs in Texas require a wide range of educational requirements. Depending on what area of criminal justice you want to work in, you might need a high school diploma, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. Your level of experience also often plays a role in what types of jobs for which you qualify. It is possible to qualify for many entry-level jobs in the field with an associate degree in criminal justice. If you want to become a police officer, security officer, police dispatcher, crime scene technician, or correctional officer, you need at least a high school diploma or associate degree. However, many employers prefer candidates who hold a bachelor’s in criminal justice.

If you want to pursue mid-level positions with better compensation and more complicated work, you should complete a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. Employment options include social services, forensics, the courts, and management. Criminal justice professionals who hold a master’s degree or higher have an easier time obtaining supervisory and leadership positions. Most criminal justice professionals at this level specialize in an area like terrorism or crime scene investigation.

Licensing, Registration, and Certification Requirements in Texas

To work in the criminal justice field in Texas, you must meet all licensing, registration, or certification requirements relevant to your position. Each state creates its own requirements, and rules vary by position. For example, if you receive a license to work in Texas, you may not automatically receive a license to work the same job in another state. Personnel who carry weapons typically must register with the appropriate government agency.

most states make the process of applying for their own licenses easier for individuals who already hold a license from another jurisdiction

The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement manages the licensing process for peace officers, county jailers, and telecommunicators. All three positions must meet minimum standards for initial licensure, complete the basic licensing course, pass the state licensing exam, and receive appointment from a law enforcement agency. Private investigators in Texas receive licensure from the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Although certification and licensure seem similar, the terms actually refer to different processes. Individuals must apply for a license in order to legally practice certain professions. State agencies oversee the licensure process. In contrast, a certification is usually a voluntary process organized by a private non-governmental organizations. Individuals apply for certifications to prove they hold special skills and knowledge. Although not usually required, certifications can help professionals find jobs or receive promotions. For example, Texas criminal justice workers can apply to become certified criminal justice addictions professionals.

Texas criminal justice licenses and certifications do not transfer to other states. However, most states make the process of applying for their own licenses easier for individuals who already hold a license from another jurisdiction. Because licensing regulations change often, job-seekers must verify requirements for the locality in which they plan to work.

Career and Salary Expectations

After you earn your online criminal justice degree, Texas offers a wide selection of career possibilities. Protective service occupations in Texas earn a mean hourly wage of $21.72 and a mean annual wage of $45,180. Salaries vary considerably depending on what type of occupation you choose within the protective services. Security guards make an average of around $30,000 each year, while detectives and criminal investigators make an average of $77,530.

Criminal justice professionals also often find work in the legal services field. These occupations include correctional officer, legal assistant, and probation officer. Legal assistants in Texas earn about $55,000 a year. Professionals with a master’s or Ph.D. may pursue careers in teaching. Criminal justice professionals make an average of $66,800 each year in Texas, and with so many criminal justice jobs in the state, additional training and education is frequently in demand.

Criminal justice students in Texas can consult the tables below for specific information about employment and salary expectations.

Protective Services Occupations in Texas

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Fire Inspectors and Investigators1,350$28.63$59,550
Detectives and Criminal Investigators16,780$37.27$77,530
Fish and Game Wardens470$32.22$67,020
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers63,380$30.01$62,430
Private Detectives and Investigators1,800$23.75$49,400
Security Guards88,100$14.44$30,020
Transportation Security Screeners3,410$20.08$41,770
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Texas

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists8,660$22.27$49,000
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates2,890$43.19$89,840
Paralegals and Legal Assistants22,730$26.41$54,940
Court Reporters1,640$34.92$72,630
Correctional Officers and Jailers48,600$19.91$41,420
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Texas

OccupationEmploymentAverage Hourly WageAverage annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians1,100$25.20$52,420
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers1,140N/A66,800
Source: BLS, May 2017

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Many scholarships can help criminal justice majors pay for their college degrees. Students in Texas also qualify for scholarships created specifically to assist learners in the state. The following list identifies scholarships for students pursuing criminal justice degrees in Texas.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

The McGaughey Family Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: The Lint Center gives this scholarship to outstanding students pursuing degrees related to counterintelligence, alliance building, national security, and cultural understanding. Workers in these fields and their children can apply. View Scholarship

Alphonso Deal Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: This scholarship from the National Black Police Association provides financial aid to students earning a law enforcement degree. Students must be high school seniors and U.S. citizens who hold a college letter of acceptance. View Scholarship

George A. Zeiss Memorial Scholarships $1,000

Who Can Apply: Students must be the children of National Academy Associate members who currently work in law enforcement. View Scholarship

John A. Wagner, Jr. Youth Leadership Program Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: To qualify for this award, students must attend that year’s Youth Leadership Program session. Students must also demonstrate leadership qualities. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Texas Residents

Dr. Barbara Odom-Wesley Spirit of Achievement Scholarship $3,000

Who Can Apply: The Arlington Foundation for Excellence in Education distributes this scholarship. Students must be African American females in their senior year of high school in Tarrant county, Texas. Applicants must demonstrate financial need and hold a minimum 2.5 GPA. View Scholarship

British American Foundation of Texas Undergraduate Scholarship Tuition

Who Can Apply: Undergraduate learners studying in Texas or the UK can apply for this scholarship. Students must come from low-income families, maintain a minimum 3.25 GPA, and attend an awards dinner in Houston. View Scholarship

Honorable Elzie Odom Leader of Tomorrow Scholarship $3,000

Who Can Apply: The Arlington Foundation for Excellence in Education gives this award to African American males in their senior year of high school. Students should live in Tarrant county. View Scholarship

Champion Scholars Scholarship $5,000

Who Can Apply: Champion Energy provides this scholarship to high school seniors with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students must be a resident of Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois, or New Jersey. View Scholarship

Children of Disabled or Deceased Firemen Award Full Tuition

Who Can Apply: Texas provides this benefit to children of parents who were qualified public servants killed or disabled in the line of duty. Students must apply before age 21 and maintain a GPA that satisfies their institution’s rules. Students can use the benefit at any public college in Texas. Recipients can receive the award for 120 undergraduate credits or until age 26, whichever comes firstAmount: Full tuition View Scholarship

Resources for Criminal Justice Students in Texas

Law Enforcement Agencies in Texas

Professional Organizations

For students pursuing an online criminal justice degree, Texas hosts numerous criminal justice professional organizations. Joining a professional organization is an excellent way for students and recent graduates to get involved with the criminal justice community in their local area. Some benefits of membership include networking opportunities, job search assistance, and the ability to stay up to date with new research in the field. Members also receive discounts, continuing education opportunities, and professional development workshops. Students can find internship opportunities and jobs through organizations like those listed below.

Southwestern Association of Criminal Justice

An affiliate of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, SWAJC represents criminal justice professionals in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Arkansas. The group hosts an annual conference, publishes a journal, and maintains a job board.

Texas Corrections Association

TCA offers professional development opportunities, mentorship, and advocacy to corrections professionals in Texas. Members gain access to TCA’s annual conference, publications, specialized trainings, and networking events.

Juvenile Justice Association of Texas

JJAT unites practitioners of juvenile justice in Texas. The association provides professional development opportunities, advocates for juvenile justice professionals, and promotes research in the field of juvenile justice.

Texas Criminal Justice Coalition

TCJC works to create safer communities and improve justice systems. The organization conducts policy research, provides advocacy trainings, and engages in partnerships with other groups working on similar issues.

National Criminal Justice Association

NCJA represents local, tribal, and state governments on crime prevention and control issues. Members include individuals from every occupation in criminal justice.

American Society of Criminology

ASC members study all facets of criminology, including prevention, treatment, and consequences of crime. The group fosters research and exchange of ideas.

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