Online Criminal Justice Degrees in Wisconsin

A criminal justice major prepares graduates to work in fields such as protective services, the court system, and corrections. Criminal justice professionals work as criminal investigators, police officers, and forensic science technicians. In Wisconsin, criminal justice majors enter the academy to join the Wisconsin State Patrol, hold Department of Corrections jobs, or work for the Department of Justice. A graduate degree in the field helps professionals advance their careers and increase their salaries.

With a strong economy and an unemployment rate below 3%, Wisconsin serves as a great place to pursue a career in criminal justice Bureau of Labor Statistics

With a strong economy and an unemployment rate below 3%, Wisconsin serves as a great place to pursue a career in criminal justice. After earning a criminal justice degree, graduates who pursue protective services careers earn an annual mean wage of nearly $45,000 a year.

Schools make earning a criminal justice degrees easier by offering online criminal justice programs. Students can benefit from the flexibility and accessibility of online programs, which let busy students arrange their schooling around work and family obligations. Online degrees from accredited institutions qualify graduates for careers in law enforcement, legal services, corrections, and other criminal justice professions.

Many students prefer the flexibility and accessibility of a Wisconsin online criminal justice degree. In contrast to on-campus programs, many online degrees provide online access to class materials at any time, from any location. Online students arrange classes around their other obligations. Students earning an online criminal justice degree in Wisconsin also save money on commuting and on-campus housing costs. Many colleges and universities also offer a tuition discount for online classes. Some programs offer multiple start dates throughout the year, so students don't need to wait until fall to begin coursework.

With more top criminal justice programs offering online degree options, students can receive an education wherever they live. Online students benefit from the resources, networking opportunities, and faculty at the best institutions from their own homes. Wisconsin employers treat online students the same as those attending on-campus programs.

Earning criminal justice degrees in Wisconsin proves easier than ever thanks to online programs. However, prospective students should always consider the program's accreditation status before enrolling.

Independent accreditation agencies review colleges, universities, and academic programs to ensure they meet standards of excellence. Higher education institutions voluntarily participate in the accreditation process, which involves independent evaluations, self-evaluation, and a plan for improvement. However, institutions may hold several types of accreditation granted by regional, national, and specialized accrediting agencies. While regional and national accrediting agencies evaluate entire academic institutions, specialized accreditation focuses on particular programs, such as a nursing or teaching program.

While regional and national accrediting agencies evaluate entire academic institutions, specialized accreditation focuses on particular programs, such as a nursing or teaching program

Regional accreditation remains the highest standard for colleges and universities. Many institutions only accept transfer credits earned at a regionally accredited college or university, and some graduate programs, licensing boards, and certifications only recognize regionally accredited degrees. Regional accreditation also qualifies students for federal financial aid. In Wisconsin, the Higher Learning Commission confers regional accreditation.

Criminal justice programs in general do not rely on a specialized accrediting agency. However, some programs do hold specialized accreditation. For example, law schools receive accreditation from the American Bar Association. When evaluating criminal justice programs, prospective students should research their accreditation status. The U.S. Department of Education provides a database of accredited colleges and programs.

Wisconsin's education and training requirements vary depending on the field. A Wisconsin online criminal justice degree prepares graduates for a variety of careers, including in law enforcement, corrections, or the legal field -- each with its own requirements. For example, Wisconsin law enforcement officers need a high school diploma or GED in addition to a minimum of 60 college credits. An associate degree meets the educational requirement. Some criminal justice jobs require additional education, like certain federal corrections officer positions that require a bachelor's degree. Additionally, lawyers must complete a JD before practicing law in Wisconsin.

On top of the educational requirements, many Wisconsin criminal justice jobs require additional training. Law enforcement officers, for example, attend a police training academy. Paralegals, who can practice with an associate or bachelor's degree, may also need specialized training or certification. As with many other professions, candidates with advanced degrees qualify for higher-level job opportunities. A master's degree in criminal justice allows graduates to apply for management-level positions that offer higher salaries.

Because education and training requirements vary greatly, prospective criminal justice students should research their intended field's guidelines. Learning more about bachelor's programs in criminal justice and master's programs in criminal justice also helps future criminal justice professionals find a program that meets their needs.

Criminal justice professionals work in law enforcement and corrections, the legal system, and in protective services jobs. Some criminal justice jobs require specific licenses through government or independent agencies. The licensing requirements vary by state and position, so criminal justice majors need to research the requirements for their specific field.

For example, security guards, police officers, and other professionals who carry weapons need to register with a government agency. In Wisconsin, the Department of Safety and Professional Services issues firearm permits and licenses private detectives. Wisconsin attorneys also apply for a license with the Wisconsin Court System. Lawyers submit an application and questionnaire with information about their law degree and the bar exam.

Wisconsin law enforcement professionals also receive certification through the state's Training and Standards Bureau, a division of the Department of Justice

In addition to licenses, Wisconsin criminal justice professionals can earn certifications that qualify holders for advanced positions or higher salaries. A certification issued by an independent agency demonstrates the professional's skills. Addiction counselors can earn the criminal justice addictions professional (CCJP) credential by showing advanced knowledge in their field. By passing a detailed exam, paralegals can earn a certified paralegal credential from the National Association of Legal Assistants.

Wisconsin law enforcement professionals also receive certification through the state's Training and Standards Bureau, a division of the Department of Justice. The bureau issues certification for law enforcement and corrections officers, training instructors, and police academies. In addition to certification, law enforcement professionals may also need a state permit to carry a weapon.

Criminal justice licenses and certifications may not transfer across state lines. Students earning an online criminal justice degree Wisconsin need to verify the requirements as part of their job search.

After graduation, Wisconsin criminal justice majors pursue careers in protective services, the legal field, and other related areas. According to the BLS, Wisconsin boasted a 2.9% unemployment rate in March 2018 -- lower than the national average. The BLS also reports that protective service professionals in the state earn a mean hourly wage of $21.50 and an annual mean wage of $44,720. The field also employs nearly 55,000 workers in the state.

In addition to protective services, Wisconsin criminal justice majors pursue careers in legal services as lawyers, judges, paralegals, and corrections officers. These professionals earn a mean hourly wage of $43.29, which translates to an annual mean wage of over $90,000 a year. A law degree serves as the entry-level education requirement for some of these positions.

Graduates who earn a criminal justice degree online in Wisconsin pursue a variety of career paths. The earning potential for each varies, from security guards, who average just over $13.00 an hour, to lawyers and judges making nearly $60.00 an hour. Prospective criminal justice majors can research the salary potential and employment statistics using the following data from the BLS.

Protective Services Occupations in Wisconsin

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Firefighters 9,420 $20.13 $41,870
Fish and Game Wardens N/A $23.21 $48,280
Detectives and Criminal Investigators 1,370 $36.16 $75,220
Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers 12,410 $29.23 $60,800
Private Detectives and Investigators 320 $20.57 $42,790
Transportation Security Screeners 490 $19.42 $40,400
Security Guards 11,220 $13.57 $28,230
Source: BLS, May 2017

Court and Corrections Occupations in Wisconsin

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists 1,410 $23.45 $48,770
Lawyers 7,540 $59.42 123,600
Judges, Magistrate Judges, and Magistrates 150 $59.37 $123,490
Paralegals and Legal Assistants 4,720 $23.47 $48,820
Court Reporters 100 $27.38 $56,950
Bailiffs 200 $14.77 $30,710
Correctional Officers and Jailers 7,230 $21.17 $44,040
Source: BLS, May 2017

Other Criminal Justice Occupations in Wisconsin

Occupation Employment Average Hourly Wage Average annual Wage
Forensic Science Technicians 210 $25.19 $52,400
Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Teachers 190 N/A $68,870
Source: BLS, May 2017

Wisconsin criminal justice students qualify for multiple national and state-specific scholarships. These funding sources help cover the cost of a degree, and they can provide thousands toward an online criminal justice degree Wisconsin.

Criminal Justice Scholarships

Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Award $1,000

Who Can Apply: Offered by the American Correctional Association, this scholarship supports minority students earning a degree in criminal justice or a related field. Applicants submit a 250-word essay on the ideals and philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr. View Scholarship

National Black Police Association Scholarships Varies

Who Can Apply: With multiple scholarship opportunities, the National Black Police Association supports black men and women who plan to work in law enforcement. View Scholarship

My Alarm Center Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: My Alarm Center offers a scholarship for students studying law enforcement, criminal justice, or a related field. Applicants must be either a high school senior or in their first two years of college. The scholarship requires a 500-1,000 word essay. View Scholarship

Out to Protect Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: Future law enforcement professionals who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender qualify. View Scholarship

Women in Federal Law Enforcement Scholarship $2,500

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports female students majoring in criminal justice or a related field. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and must submit a 500-word essay. View Scholarship

Scholarships for Wisconsin Residents

Wisconsin Academic Excellence Scholarship $2,250

Who Can Apply: Offered by the state government, the scholarship awards high school seniors with the highest GPA in each Wisconsin public and private high school. Recipients can receive funds for up to eight semesters. View Scholarship

Wisconsin Grant $3,000

Who Can Apply: The Wisconsin grant system provides assistance to Wisconsin residents attending either a public or private institution. Applicants must meet financial need requirements set by the state. View Scholarship

Midwest Student Exchange Program Varies

Who Can Apply: This multi-state tuition reciprocity program qualifies Wisconsin residents for reduced tuition rates at participating schools in the midwest, including both public and private institutions. View Scholarship

Wisconsin Women's Alliance Foundation Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: Female Wisconsin residents 25 or older meet the eligibility requirements. Applicants must attend an accredited institution as a full-time student. View Scholarship

Della Van Deuren Memorial Scholarship $1,000

Who Can Apply: Sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Wisconsin, the scholarship supports students attending accredited institutions who hold membership with the Wisconsin American Legion Auxiliary. Applicants need a minimum 3.5 GPA. View Scholarship

Law Enforcement Agencies in Wisconsin

Professional Organizations

Criminal justice professionals connect through a variety of local and national associations. These organizations offer several key benefits. Members access professional resources and publications, receive benefits such as discounts or continuing education support, and network with other members. These organizations also provide job centers and other employment resources, and many offer scholarships for criminal justice students.

American Jail Association

This organization advocates for professionals working in jails across the country. The AJA provides training, access to resources, and an annual conference.

American Society of Criminology

Specializing in the prevention, control, and treatment of crime, the ASC supports professionals working in the criminology space through professional resources and research.

American Academy of Forensic Science

A professional society for forensic science professionals, the academy promotes education and collaboration. The group also advocates for science and its role in the legal system.

American Correctional Association

Founded in 1870, the ACA offers resources for members such as publications, networking opportunities, and an annual conference.

American Criminal Justice Association

With chapters across the country, the ACJA provides resources for professionals and students, including an annual scholarship.

National Association of Police Organizations

A coalition of local police unions and associations, the NAPO connects law enforcement officers and advocates for the police.

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