On a lonely stretch of highway outside of Gibsland, Louisiana, you'll find a small stone monument marking the spot where the infamous Depression-era outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow met their end. Law enforcement can be dangerous work, but for those willing to accept the risk, Louisiana can offer ample opportunity.
Graduating with a criminal justice degree in Louisiana can lead to a wide range of fulfilling and lucrative career opportunities within the Pelican State and beyond. Some of the widely available jobs you can qualify for after completing a criminal justice education in Louisiana include police officers and sheriffs, correctional officers, paralegals and legal assistants.
Louisiana is home to a number of well-known schools that offer bachelor's degree programs in criminal justice as well as vocational and technical colleges that prepare students exclusively for careers in the criminal justice industry. If distance learning works better for your schedule and budget than commuting to campus, you can sign up for a criminal justice program that offers an online supplement or a degree program that is fully available online.
Criminal Justice Education in Louisiana
In a typical four-year criminal justice program in Louisiana, students begin by taking core courses and learning the history and general principles of the U.S. criminal justice system. Before you can move on to classes that are specific to your area of interest, you will need to complete required introductory courses that typically include:
- History of the American Criminal Justice System
- Introduction to Courts and Legal Services
- Introduction to Penology
- Law and Society
- Common Constitutional Issues in Criminal Justice
You will be expected to spend most of your first and second year studying core subjects that are not technically a part of your major. These courses usually include mathematics, English, foreign languages, social studies and science. After you are done with introductory and core courses, you will be able to study in-depth criminal justice topics. Research and analytics, victim psychology and structure and function of law enforcement are a few examples of courses that criminal justice majors study in their third and fourth years of school. Many schools also require their students to complete a work-study program or an internship as part of their criminal justice education.
The American Criminal Justice Association awards scholarships to help criminal justice students pay for their education.
Outlook for Criminal Justice in Louisiana
The type of work you can expect to find after graduating depends on your interests, academic background and location. Law enforcement and legal services are among the most in-demand criminal justice fields in Louisiana. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Louisiana's courts and legal services are some of the state's major industries with an employment rate of 13,420 workers. The BLS reports that attorneys generally have the highest-paying jobs with an average annual salary of $101,170. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators earn an average of $53,630 per year while legal assistants and paralegals earn slightly more with a mean annual salary of $49,380.
Protective service occupations are also in high demand throughout Louisiana. Recent statistics from BLS show that there are currently more than 55,880 people who are employed in protective services. While that number seems much higher than the statistics for employee numbers in legal services, it is important to remember that protective services cover a wider range of criminal justice careers.
Within protective services, police officers, sheriffs, correctional officers, jailers and security guards are currently the most in-demand careers. Out of those occupations, police officers and sheriffs have the highest-paying jobs with annual salaries averaging $39,650. Louisiana is one of the top five states in the country for employment rates of police officers (BLS 2017). Graduates who are interested in higher-paying positions should seek management positions. For example, while correctional officers earn annual salaries of $34,540, their first-line supervisors earn significantly more, at $53,90 a year (BLS 2017).
Keep in mind that mean salaries can give you an idea of how much you can earn after graduating with a criminal justice degree in Louisiana, but it is tough to predict whether your salary will be lower or higher than the average. Choosing electives that support your career choice and completing at least a four-year degree program can help you significantly increase your long-term earning potential.
Use our school listings below to help with your research to find the perfect criminal justice college. You can request information from multiple schools to compare different programs and requirements.Finally, take some time to learn more about criminal justice scholarships that may be available in your area.Good luck!