Why Should I Go Into Criminal Justice?
In Illinois, the criminal justice industry spans dozens of counties and their respective criminal justice departments. This is in addition to dedicated departments and agencies for large cities and communities. Within this state, police officers, bailiffs, judges, correctional officers, researchers, and many others work to keep the system running smoothly.
Although there are several options for those wanting to get started in criminal justice, for many, the natural choice is a criminal justice associate degree. Illinois schools help students get started in this field in as little as two years.
If you've been waiting for the right time to get started in this field, this may be your chance. Criminal justice reform is a significant priority in Illinois, with legislators working to reduce sentences for nonviolent drug charges, reduce prison populations, and help nonviolent offenders serve their sentences in probation and rehabilitation programs (Illinois News, 2016).
Curious about this field and its opportunities? Get in touch with Illinois criminal justice schools to find out more about your options.
Criminal Justice Associate Programs in Illinois
Illinois is home to many accredited two-year schools that offer diverse criminal justice training programs. This benefits you because it gives you the chance to choose a program that closely fits your needs and career goals.
On top of general criminal justice programs, consider associate degree programs in law enforcement, paralegal studies, parole officer, corrections, forensic investigation, and crime scene investigation.
Looking into the required courses for each program can help you make an informed choice.
Courses that are commonly required in criminal justice programs include:
- Digital Evidence Recovery
- Computer Forensics
- Police Management and Supervision
- Substance Abuse and Criminal Justice
- Principles of Criminal Investigations
- Institutional Corrections
- Community-Based Corrections
- Issues in Criminal Justice
The nature of this degree means that some or most of your coursework may be able to be completed online. If you find it difficult to fit the schedule of traditional programs, consider an online criminal justice associate degree. You complete the same work as traditional students, but you can work on nights, weekends, and whenever you have a few minutes.
Quite a few traditional and online programs have internship requirements, so keep in mind that you may still have in-person requirements to fulfill. There is some variance in expenses and time frames between schools.
Check out Illinois averages for getting your associate degree in criminal justice below:
- Timeframe: 2 to 3 years
- Credits: 60 to 72 credits
- Average tuition cost per year: $4,061 (College Board, 2017-2018)
Scholarships have the possibility of making your education even more affordable. In addition to state and federal grants, you can investigate grants funded by community organizations. The Illinois Sheriffs' Association awards multiple scholarships each academic year.
What Can I Do With a Criminal Justice Degree in Illinois?
One advantage of working in Illinois is the wide range of suburban and urban areas that rely on criminal justice professionals. This may help you find work in your area or explore opportunities in new parts of the state.
In general, the job outlook in this state is stable. Between 2014 and 2024, O*Net expects job openings for fire investigators to increase 1% (2017). During this timeframe, they predict an average of 1,100 new patrol officer jobs per year (O*Net, 2017). Demand for police detectives will increase around 1% during this time (O*Net, 2017).
Average Illinois salaries are in line with Midwest averages. An average income of $52,410 per year is reported for fire inspectors (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). The average salary for a police patrol officer is $73,870 annually (BLS, 2017). Police detectives claim an average income of $101,240 annually (BLS, 2017).
Regardless of what your career goals are, early preparation is important. Several positions, such as those in the police force, require additional training and conditioning. Learning about training schedules ahead of time can help you save time and start working more quickly.
An AA criminal justice degree can offer you a solid base of knowledge in this field. With that, you may pursue entry-level job openings or prepare for ongoing study at the bachelor's degree level. Compare your degree options today.
Reach out to Illinois schools for more information on earning an associate degree in criminal justice.
Online programs may not be available in all areas
Featured Schools Accepting Students from Across the US:
Online programs may not be available in all areas
Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice and Criminology
Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science
Associate of Applied Science in Legal Support and Services
Associate of Applied Science in Public Safety and Security