Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Utah

Utah's economy, including the criminal justice sector, is experiencing significant growth. Utah passed the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in 2015, which helps imprisoned people successfully re-enter society. Since the law went into effect, more Utah offenders seek appropriate treatment, according to the 2017 annual report.

The growing population and the changing criminal justice system drive demand for qualified professionals in the field

Utah's population is growing; according to the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, the state's population will approach six million by 2065, with the most populous areas being Salt Lake County and Utah County. The growing population and the changing criminal justice system drive demand for qualified professionals in the field. For those pursuing an online criminal justice degree, Utah offers ample opportunities for students and graduates.

Many Utah universities offer online programs, including Utah Valley University and Weber State University. The criminal justice field encompasses many specific areas. Criminal justice students concentrate in areas such as law enforcement, cybersecurity, and social justice. Specializing increases job opportunities after earning criminal justice degrees in Utah.

For learners in Utah, online criminal justice degrees offer more flexibility than on-campus programs. Many online programs are asynchronous, allowing students to watch lectures and complete coursework at their convenience. Distance learning is ideal for students who have full-time jobs or families. By earning a criminal justice degree online, Utah students save on expenses such as campus housing and transportation, making distance learning an affordable way advance a career or change paths.

In addition to saving on campus-related expenses, online learners can work full time while earning their degree. Utah residents can also save money on tuition by attending in-state schools. At most schools in Utah, online criminal justice degree programs offer the same curricula, concentrations, and internship opportunities as their on-campus counterparts.

To ensure they receive a quality education, students should only consider accredited schools. The two main types of institutional accreditation are regional and national. For-profit, religious-based, and technical schools often receive national accreditation, while regional agencies typically accredited nonprofit institutions. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities awards regional accreditation to Utah institutions.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) recognizes all regional accrediting agencies, but not all national agencies. Only students who attend schools with accreditation from an ED-recognized agency qualify for federal financial aid. Additionally, credits and degrees earned from nationally accredited institutions rarely transfer to regionally accredited schools. While pursuing online criminal justice degree, Utah students should attend a regionally accredited school to ensure graduate schools and future employers will recognize their degree. The ED maintains a database of accredited schools and programs.

While some positions in the field require only a high school education, others require a bachelor's or master's degree

After earning an online criminal justice degree, Utah graduates pursue a variety of career paths. While some positions in the field require only a high school education, others require a bachelor's or master's degree. Entry-level positions that require more education typically pay higher salaries. For example, probation officers need a bachelor's degree and typically earn more than correctional officers, who need only a high school diploma.

A master's degree in criminal justice qualifies professionals for managerial positions, teaching jobs, and occupations in specialized areas. Master's students concentrate in specific areas, such as cybersecurity, to prepare for specialized roles in the field. Some positions, such as police officer or detective, require additional training. Aspiring police officers must hold an associate degree and complete police academy training.

Many criminal justice professionals must maintain state licensure. Licensure requirements vary by position and location. Licenses do not usually transfer between states, so students planning to work in Utah should research state licensure requirements.

Security officers and game officers who work for the state or for private firms must hold licensure. Armed guards must undergo a rigorous background check to obtain a license. Candidates for a private investigator license must be at least 21 years old, be a legal resident in the state, and meet Utah's standards for moral character. Bounty hunters in the state have stringent requirements for licensure, including 16 hours of additional training and at least 2,000 hours of supervised work experience. Because licensure requirements change often, students pursuing criminal justice degrees in Utah should contact state agencies to verify licensure requirements.

While licenses are required to work in specific occupations, certifications are voluntary credentials that increase job prospects and earning potential. Certifications demonstrate knowledge in specific areas of criminal justice. For example, a certificate in criminology demonstrates the holder's understanding of criminal justice theories, current research, and crime prevention methods.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), protective services professionals in Utah earn a mean wage of $22.69 per hour, or $47,190 per year. Specific salaries vary by position, employer, industry, and location. For example, protective services professionals who work for the federal government earn a mean hourly wage of $32.83, while the mean wage for those who work in private security is $14.54 per hour.

protective services professionals in Utah earn a mean wage of $22.69 per hour, or $47,190 per year

The Utah Department of Workforce Services projects a high volume of openings for correctional officers and jailers in the state. The department projects the number of detectives and criminal investigators to remain stable, with replacements comprising the bulk of job openings in the field. After earning an online criminal justice degree, Utah graduates often pursue the occupations highlighted in the table below. Wages and job growth vary widely, and criminal justice students should consider these factors when selecting a major.

Protective Services Occupations in Utah

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Firefighters 2,390 $17.15 $35,680
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 370 $37.17 $77,310
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers 4,410 $25.20 $52,410
Private Detectives and Investigators 80 $25.39 $52,810
Security Guards 5,890 $14.93 $31,050
Transportation Security Screeners 480 $18.09 $37,630
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Utah

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 620 $23.56 $49,000
Lawyers 4,990 $52.54 $109,280
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates 130 $48.09 $100,030
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 2,340 $22.35 $46,490
Court Reporters N/A $11.63 $24,180
Bailiffs 100 $22.29 $46,370
Correctional Officers and Jailers 2,040 $20.89 $43,460
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Utah

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians 120 $24.21 $50,350
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers 450 N/A $67,250
Source: BLS, May 2017

To earn an online criminal justice degree, Utah students typically need financial assistance. Many students pursue scholarships to offset the cost of education. Unlike student loans, scholarships do not need to be repaid. Many institutions and organizations offer scholarships, many of which are reserved for criminal justice students or Utah residents. The scholarship opportunities below are available to students pursuing criminal justice degrees in Utah.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

Captain James J. Regan Memorial Scholarship $500

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports students pursuing an education in criminal justice. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are in their senior year of high school or enrolled in an accredited criminal justice undergraduate program. View Scholarship

Brian Terry Foundation Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: This scholarship honors the memory of a border patrol agent who was killed in the line of duty. Applicants must have been accepted to an undergraduate program and must be pursuing a career in criminal justice. View Scholarship

Out to Protect Scholarship $500-$1,000

Who Can Apply: Out to Protect offers this scholarship to support the LGBTQ community within law enforcement. Applicants must identify as LGBTQ. Recipients enroll in a training program and become role models for the community. View Scholarship

My Alarm Center Student Scholarships $1,000

Who Can Apply: These scholarships are available to high school seniors and college students in their first two years of studies. Learners must be pursuing a degree in law enforcement, criminal justice, or a related field. View Scholarship

Alphonso Deal Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: The National Black Police Association offers this scholarship to black students who have been accepted to a criminal justice program. Applicants must submit a letter of recommendation and an essay. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Utah Residents

The Regents Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to high school students in Utah. Scholarship requirements change often in response to legislation, so applicants should check the website for current information. View Scholarship

The New Century Scholarship Varies

Who Can Apply: This scholarship helps Utah students earn an associate degree while in high school, which helps individuals enter the workforce earlier. View Scholarship

Public Safety Officer Career Advancement Reimbursement Program $5,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to Utah residents planning to pursue a degree in criminal justice. Recipients must attend a Utah System of Higher Education institution. View Scholarship

The Daniels Scholarship Program Varies

Who Can Apply: This scholarship is available to graduating high school seniors in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Applicants must demonstrate leadership skills, strong moral character, and dedication to community service. View Scholarship

The Olene S. Walker Transition to Adult Living Scholarship $5,000

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports young people who are transitioning from the Utah foster system to adulthood and who plan to pursue a college degree. View Scholarship

Law Enforcement Agencies in Utah

Professional Organizations

Many professional organizations accept student members. Professional organizations help criminal justice students network with professionals and stay up-to-date on research and best practices. Professional organizations provide resources to help learners find jobs and connect with peers.

Utah Peace Officers Association

This organization advocates for peace officers in Utah. The association maintains committees that lobby for legislation that protects Utah's peace officers.

Utah State Fraternal Order of Police

This association is composed entirely of police officers, including members and organizational leaders. The organization does not affiliate with any political party and supports legislation that protects officers.

Utah State Bar

The Utah State Bar regulates licensure in the state and advocates for Utah's legal professionals, who play an important role in criminal justice.

Utah Women's Coalition

This organization comprises women who want to advance the causes of other professional women in the state. Members include women in a variety of fields, including criminal justice.

Academy of Clinical Laboratory Physicians and Scientists

This organization connects forensic scientists with peers and other professionals in the scientific community.

Law and Society Organization

This organization unites professionals across many disciplines to advance the connection between the law and society.

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