Justice Administration Topics

Guide to a Career in Justice Administration

What is Justice Administration?

Those students who choose to pursue a college degree in Justice Administration will find that many exciting and vital career opportunities await them following graduation. The criminal justice system in the United States is structured in a way that provides various and appropriate ways of administering justice for people who commit crimes and for people who are victims of crime. Citizens rely on justice administrators to uphold the country's justice system in many different capacities.

The availability of online and distance learning programs in the field of justice administration has seen a significant growth in recent history. The expansion of the industry of online and distance learning degree programs in Justice Administration has made it possible for students in all situations to obtain their desired college degree while continuing to maintain their professional lives at work and their personal lives at home.

Online and distance learning college degree programs in Justice Administration are designed to provide enrolled students with a solid general background of knowledge about the workings of the justice system in the United States. Students will gain a broad base of information about many specific aspects of the justice system, about many different investigative techniques, and about many different forms of crime.

Students may choose to pursue a higher-level degree in Justice Administration. In this case, the student will engage in more specified and in-depth studies about the area of justice administration in which he or she is most interested. The student will most likely be required to narrow his or her focus of study and to conduct intensive research and fieldwork, gaining direct and practical experience in the workforce. Students enrolled in all levels of degree programs in Justice Administration will be required to demonstrate competency in their specific area of study in order to prove their preparedness for joining the men and women in the justice administration and criminal justice workforce.

There are many online and distance learning college degree programs in Justice Administration and many levels of college degrees are available. College degrees in Justice Administration can be earned at the certificate, associate, bachelor, or Master's level.

Career Education in Justice Administration

Undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs

Students who choose to enroll in an online or distance learning college degree program in Justice Administration come from all kinds of educational and experiential backgrounds. While some justice administration students are just out of high school, others are already justice administration professionals who have been working in the field and wish to return to school to further their education. It is common that students who are also working professionals in the field of justice administration may wish to obtain a higher degree in order to take their careers to the next level of pay or responsibility.

Justice Administration degree program curriculum

No online or distance learning college degree program is exactly like the next. Each program has is own unique strengths, and its own unique philosophy, mission, and academic focus.

Though each Justice Administration degree program is unique, most programs do share some commonalities in academic curricula. For instance, most degree programs emphasize an integration of the fields of criminology, criminal justice, and sociology. Students will be required to engage in extensive and intensive research and to learn about and make use of various research methods.

It also common that students enrolled in a Justice Administration degree program will be required to conduct in-depth studies of various theoretical perspectives in the fields of criminal justice and the study of criminology. Students will also most likely be required to complete coursework in the areas of international criminal justice, domestic and international criminal justice policy, and social control systems.

Beyond classroom course requirements, it is also common that in order for a student to successfully complete an online or distance learning college degree program in Justice Administration, he or she will need to complete fieldwork within his or her chosen concentration. The particular fieldwork requirements will vary from program to program, but it is usual for requirements to be fulfilled through an internship program and subsequent research and writing. Each degree program will have its own requirements regarding the amount of hours to be fulfilled through the internship.

Student internships provide extremely valuable practical experience that will help the students learn about the day-to-day life of working in their chosen area of concentration within the field of justice administration. Internships can help students to develop and clarify ideas about their own career paths and professional objectives.

Many degree programs in Justice Administration also require students to complete a graduating academic thesis. This is especially true for Master's level programs. To complete an academic thesis, students will most often conduct in-depth independent research under the guidance of one or more faculty members

Career preparation

The focus of any online or distance learning college degree program in Justice Administration is to provide graduating students with the skills, knowledge, and experience they need to successfully enter the workforce. The nature of the jobs that students are eligible for after graduation from a degree program will be largely dependent upon the level of college degree they have earned.

Students who graduate with a bachelor's degree in Justice Administration may be eligible for entry-level employment in criminal justice agencies at the local, state, or federal level. They may also be eligible for jobs in security at private businesses or public institutions. Students who obtain a bachelor's degree will also meet the requirements to continue their education in justice administration at the graduate level.

Students who earn a Master's degree in Justice Administration may be qualified for jobs in the field at many levels and in many capacities. These graduates may enter the workforce at the management level. They may also concentrate their careers on research, planning, and evaluation of justice systems in both public and private agencies. They may be involved with the assessment, creation, development, and implementation of public policy.

Master's level graduates may also wish to teach in a Justice Administration academic department of an educational institution such as community college, or they may go on to continue their own education at the doctorate level. Overall, students who complete the graduation requirements for a Master's degree in Justice Administration will be eligible for greater advancement in the workforce.

Many agencies in the field have begun to encourage prospective employees to complete some level of postsecondary education with a focus on justice administration. Some courses that prospective justice administration employers encourage job applicants to have completed are finance, computer science, foreign language, electrical engineering, and physical education.

There are many agencies that are willing to pay a portion, if not all, of the cost of college degree program tuition for employees. These employers usually offer salary increases to those who earn a college degree in the field.

What Can You Do with a University Degree in Justice Administration?

Options for careers in the administration of justice

Depending on the level of college degree in Justice Administration that a student obtains, the student may be qualified to pursue a career as one or more of the following:

Alcohol/Tobacco/Firearms Agent
Appeals Reviewer
Arson Investigator
Bail Bonding Agent
Border Patrol Officer
Child Welfare Caseworker
Computer Crime Specialist
Conservation Officer
Corporate Security Specialist
Correctional Institution Officer
Corrections Counselor
Crime Lab Technician
Crime Laboratory Analyst
Criminal Investigator
Customs Agent
Drug Enforcement Agent
Family Counselor
FBI/Secret Service Agent
Fish and Game Warden
Forensic Chemist
Forensic Pathologist
Forensic Scientist Arson Specialist
Forensic Scientist Drug Chemist
Health Inspector
Healthcare Security
Hotel Security Director
Inspector/Compliance Officer
Juvenile Counselor
Juvenile Detention Specialist
Law Clerk
Law Enforcement Officer
Loss Prevention Specialist
Narcotics Investigator
Park Ranger
Parole Officer
Police Officer
Prison Recreation Leader
Private Security Specialist
Probation Officer
Safety Inspector
Sexual Assault Prevention Educator
Social Worker
Special Agent
Substance Abuse Counselor
Traffic Manager
Treasury Enforcement Agent
U.S. Marshal
Victim Advocate

Job descriptions

The public relies on people who work in the field of justice administration to protect lives, property, and the country's justice system. Because there are so many career options for those who obtain a college degree in Justice Administration from an accredited degree program, there are just as many ways that those who work in the field might uphold their duties as an administrator of justice. The expectations and job requirements are different for each specific career in the field, but in most cases, justice administrators are expected to be ready to use their authority at all times, even when off-duty.

The following are descriptions of some jobs that one might be eligible for with a college degree in Justice Administration:

Uniformed Police Officer
Police Officers who work in municipal police departments of towns, villages, rural areas, and other small communities must usually maintain general duties of law enforcement. They must patrol regularly and respond to calls. Police officers who work in larger police departments are usually responsible for more specified duties in more specified locations. In a large urban area, for example, a police officer may be assigned to a particular neighborhood where he or she is expected to build relationships with local residents. A police officer may also be specifically assigned to a business district of a major urban center. While on shift, police officers may need to identify, track, and arrest people suspected of engaging in criminal activity. Police officers at all levels and in all locations must maintain written reports and records about their job activities.

The job of a detective is to collect evidence in response to a criminal case. Some detectives are part of a larger task force with the job of fighting particular kinds of crime and criminal activity, such as homicide or fraud. Detectives are plainclothes investigators who must examine a case until it is solved or dropped. General duties of a Detective might include conducting interviews, examining written reports, conducting systematic observations of suspected criminals, and participating in arrests.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent
Agents of the FBI investigate all kinds of crime and criminal activity such as civil rights violations, organized crime, bribery, copyright infringement, kidnapping, air piracy, espionage, terrorism, drug trafficking, and others. FBI Agents are the major investigators for the Federal Government and are also responsible for conducting investigations having to do with issues of national security. They must conduct investigative activities such as examining records, exploring white-collar crime, monitoring wiretaps, tracking the location of stolen items, working undercover, and others.

United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent
Agents of the DEA enforce laws and regulations that are designed specifically in relation to illegal drugs and the trafficking of illegal drugs. The DEA enforces drug laws on domestic soil and also conducts drug investigations on foreign soil. DEA agents may be called upon to exercise complex investigations into criminal drug activity, survey criminal activity, and work undercover in order to infiltrate illegal drug operations.

United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) agent and inspector
Agents of the INS monitor the immigration activity in the United States. They are responsible for facilitating the legal entry of immigrants to the US and for detaining and deporting illegal immigrants. Agents and inspectors of the INS might work as US Border Patrol agents, immigration inspectors, immigration agents, detention and deportation officers, criminal investigators, and others.

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives agent
Agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives regulate laws and investigate potential violations of Federal laws regarding firearms and explosives. These agents also uphold laws regarding tax regulations on tobacco and alcohol. An agent of the Bureau might be a Customs agent, investigating the smuggling of narcotics, the laundering of money, the exchange of illegal pornography, and customs fraud, among other forms of criminal activity. They enforce the Arms Export Control Act.

Customs Inspector
Customs inspectors examine, weigh, measure, and otherwise monitor commercial and noncommercial materials that enter and leave the United States. Customs inspectors must inspect the personal baggage and belongings of people entering and leaving the United States. They also must examine the items on vehicles, airplanes, trains, or vessels that cross the US border. Customs inspectors have the authority to seize smuggled items and arrest violators of United States law.

United States marshals and deputy marshals
US marshals and deputy marshals have the job of safeguarding the effectiveness of the US judicial system and of protecting the Federal courts. They protect the Federal judiciary and Federal witnesses and they transport Federal prisoners. They also are sometimes required to track and arrest fugitives of Federal law.

Bureau of Diplomatic Security special agents
Special agents of the United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security are some of the primary players in the fight against terrorism. These special agents advise overseas ambassadors and manage complex security systems and programs that are designed for the protection of people, places, and information. Domestically, these special agents are responsible for the protection of the Secretary of State. They investigate immigration fraud, conduct security investigations, and issue clearances.

Possible Work Settings

The following is a list of occupational settings in which a graduate of a Justice Administration degree program might work:

Armed Forces
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Corporate Security Offices
Crime Labs
Crisis Centers
Diplomatic Services/Embassies
Drug Enforcement Agencies
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
Government Agencies
Highway Patrol
Internet Service Providers
Juvenile Justice Programs
Peace Corps
Prison System
Private Detective Agencies
Private Security and Surveillance Companies
Probation Departments
Social Service Agencies
Telecommunications Carriers
United States Environmental Protection Agency
United States Customs

Career Outlook
Many people enjoy the high level of challenge and vitality of a job in the field of justice administration. Aside from the emotional benefits of pursuing a career in the field, many people in the justice workforce discover that many agencies offer a pension after 20 to 25 years of devoted service. This arrangement allows many workers in the field to pursue a new career while still in their youth.

Because the benefits and salaries associated with a career in justice administration are so attractive to so many people, the job market is quite competitive. This means that employers exercise high levels of selectivity when hiring new workers. This selectivity and competition is especially present in agencies at the state and Federal levels and in affluent communities. The competition relaxes slightly at the local level and in urban areas with high rates of crime. Job applicants with college education in the field have the best chance of being selected for desirable positions.

The career opportunities for criminal justice employees, police, and detectives, are expected to increase by 2012. This is due to the increasing awareness and concern about safety and security, which causes a greater demand for protective forces.

The amount of job opportunities for police and detectives is dependent upon government funding. For this reason, the number of job openings in the field can change yearly and by location. Job security in the field is high, however, with lay-offs being unusual.

Salary Information for Careers in Justice Administration

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2002, police officers and sheriff's patrol officers had an average annual income of $42,270. The average annual income at the level of state government was $47,090, at the level of local government was $42,020, and at the level of Federal Government was $41,600.

That same year, police supervisors and detective supervisors had an average annual income of $61,010. The average annual income at the level of state government was $64,410, at the level of local government was $59,830, and at the level of Federal Government was $78,230.

In 2002, detectives and criminal investigators had an average annual income of $51,410. The average annual income at the level of state government was $46,600, at the level of local government was $47,700, and at the level of Federal Government was $66,500.