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Old 15 October 2017, 16:43
Kip Kip is offline
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BS/BA in Criminal Justice or something else?

So I am 5 classes from getting my AS in criminal justice from a local state college and I'm starting to debate about what I should get my BS/BA in.

I intend to go to the police academy(assuming I pass the entry process) in April. I've heard from people at school that to climb the ranks at the sheriff's office or local police departments you pretty much have to have a bachelors degree or more(our sheriff has a masters and loves higher education).

The state college I'm getting my AS from has a BS in criminal justice, among a couple other programs. If you get your BS in criminal justice there, then you are guaranteed entry into the masters program in CJ at Florida State Univ. online.

So is a BS in CJ actually worth getting, or is it better to get a bachelors in something else so I would have something to fall back on if the LE route doesn't work out for some reason?

Thanks in advance. I've asked the opinions of some other people online, but I trust everyone here a lot more.
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Old 15 October 2017, 16:56
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Any Bachelor's degree shows you were able to complete something so has value with most any major. For CJ I'd say if you do or will work in the field it can help career advancement down the road. If not in or won't be in CJ I say get a more general degree and take CJ electives.
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Old 15 October 2017, 17:19
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If you're going to be career law enforcement, particularly if you're going to be in a Sheriff's Office, YES, you need to complete your degree. CJ is as good as any to have. Take some management classes, too.

As far as career progression... it's all about if you're one of the Department Leadership's 'fair-haired golden boys.'

They will either like you, or not. If they don't take to you, then you'll never get promoted past Sergeant, and maybe not even that.

This after 17 years in Corrections.
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Old 15 October 2017, 18:48
Fu King Lawyer Fu King Lawyer is offline
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A bachelor's degree is highly desirable and opens up many more jobs - federal and state crime bureaus which won't accept you if you don't have one. Many also require law enforcement experience, and getting it now will ease of burden of trying to get the degree while you are working, especially shifts.

If you can do it, accounting is an exceptional degree to get you into LE. Crimes are usually the result of money, love, (the love of money), or drugs. If you have the training to follow the money, you will be worth your weight in gold.

Foreign language degrees rate right up there.

So much nowadays involves electronic law and evidence, anything related to IT helps.

Several agencies need LEO - pilots which is a great career niche.

If you go with any of the above, get a CJ minor which may help.
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Old 15 October 2017, 19:04
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I did the same thing (Many years ago). You have the core classes you need for CJ, you will now take more major classes for a double major, in essence. Consider A degree in accounting or computer science (Specialize in forensics or cyber security).
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Old 16 October 2017, 07:54
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Originally Posted by Fu King Lawyer View Post
If you can do it, accounting is an exceptional degree to get you into LE. Crimes are usually the result of money, love, (the love of money), or drugs. If you have the training to follow the money, you will be worth your weight in gold.

Foreign language degrees rate right up there.

So much nowadays involves electronic law and evidence, anything related to IT helps.
Strong advice...

I havent been a cop since the early 2000's... but... when I was still in uniform, guys that had strong IT skills were HIGHLY VALUED (I cant imagine that has changed much at all).. We also had a couple of detectives that had BBA's in accounting.. they were young fast trackers that went from patrol straight into the investigations unit in 3 years (unheard of at my old agency.. typically it was at least a 5 year wait.. several investigators had 10+ years before they got selected for a detectives shield..)..
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Old 16 October 2017, 08:58
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I second TFG's recommendation of computer science with a focus on cybersecurity.

In an environment where the goal is to find/fix/arrest bad guys, someone who understands how to exploit the technology those bad guys are using is an invaluable asset.
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Old 16 October 2017, 10:11
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Originally Posted by Fu King Lawyer View Post
A bachelor's degree is highly desirable and opens up many more jobs - federal and state crime bureaus which won't accept you if you don't have one. Many also require law enforcement experience, and getting it now will ease of burden of trying to get the degree while you are working, especially shifts.

If you can do it, accounting is an exceptional degree to get you into LE. Crimes are usually the result of money, love, (the love of money), or drugs. If you have the training to follow the money, you will be worth your weight in gold.

Foreign language degrees rate right up there.

So much nowadays involves electronic law and evidence, anything related to IT helps.

Several agencies need LEO - pilots which is a great career niche.

If you go with any of the above, get a CJ minor which may help.
Agreed. I have a BS and MA in Criminal Justice. Also taught it for 10 years at the university level. If I had a do over, I'd forgo the CJ degree. Instead, I'd go with a BS in forensic accounting and a minor in computer security. That's for undergraduate.

Now after the BS, and depending on career aspirations, seriously consider getting an MBA (private sector) or MPA (public sector), or JD (either). Secure those degree before you reach 40 and get your agency or company to help foot the bill. My best bit of advice is always think strategic (meaning for current AND future assignments or careers), act accordingly, and execute posthaste.

I didn't follow that last bit of advice for my last degree (JD), wish I had.
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Old 16 October 2017, 11:09
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I second getting an undergrad in Accounting or Computer science. Then an MBA or JD for graduate.

I really like the idea of a Crim J minor, but having the AS is almost the same idea.

That combination would make you very desirable in a lot of fields.

I got an undergrad in Admin J (hybrid pre-law/crim j) and never used it. I had to go back for my MBA, but had to take a bunch of undergrad Accounting and Finance classes before I started. I wish I'd have followed what most people here have laid out.
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Old 16 October 2017, 11:41
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Criminal Justice degrees in LE are a dime-a-dozen and aren't much better than general studies. Like the above have mentioned, computer science or accounting arenas are the best to invest in.

Criminal Justice was a good degree to get at one time, but it has become the "easy" degree and the majority of people -- in my area at least -- never work in that field at all. They get it because it's easy.

Invest in your future. Accounting plays a considerable part in many LE investigations. Also, computer forensics. We have computer forensics guys and forensic CPA's in our office. To come in with those in your background would be a huge plus for your career.
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Old 16 October 2017, 17:46
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Originally Posted by Agoge View Post
Criminal Justice degrees in LE are a dime-a-dozen and aren't much better than general studies. Like the above have mentioned, computer science or accounting arenas are the best to invest in.

Criminal Justice was a good degree to get at one time, but it has become the "easy" degree and the majority of people -- in my area at least -- never work in that field at all. They get it because it's easy.

Invest in your future. Accounting plays a considerable part in many LE investigations. Also, computer forensics. We have computer forensics guys and forensic CPA's in our office. To come in with those in your background would be a huge plus for your career.
This..... Also no one gives a shit about an English degree also ask me how I know.

IT and accounting dude.....
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Old 16 October 2017, 20:14
Kip Kip is offline
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Excellent advice all around. Appreciate it.

Re: accounting - I'm actually pretty awful at math in general, so I don't see an accounting degree in my future. I'm in the middle of a remedial math class right now and I'm struggling through it(though I did take a 5+ year break from math classes in general, so I'm really rusty).

Re: Computer science/forensics - It is of interest, but I don't know if it would hold my interest long enough to get through 60+ credits. I'll have to look into it more. Of the few computer courses I've taken, two were dirt easy(basically intro to MS programs), and the other was Intro to Programming, which I thought would interest me, but it didn't and I ended up dropping it.

Re: A foreign language - I've heard varying opinions with regards to degrees in Spanish and French and the like. Some people I've heard from have gotten degrees in the aforementioned languages, but didn't speak them, so they ended up not using their degree. Other people have had the opposite experience, where they got a degree in Spanish, coupled it with a semester or more studying abroad and are not fluent and working in Spain or Mexico, etc.

One of my cousins actually has a degree in Spanish and is working for a non-profit in TX where her knowing Spanish has been a major asset.

I have been wanting to learn a foreign language, though, and have been playing around with a few apps like DuoLingo.

Again, excellent advice.
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Old 16 October 2017, 21:42
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Originally Posted by Kip View Post
I've heard from people at school that to climb the ranks at the sheriff's office or local police departments you pretty much have to have a bachelors degree or more(our sheriff has a masters and loves higher education).
Depends on the agency. Some here require a bachelor's or higher or/with experience and some will hire someone with a high school diploma with you having a master's because they like the other guy better. So LE is an excellent career but only if you're right for it now a days. But education can mean everything here and nothing there. My advice, get a degree or two as a back up. A good friend of mine simply got an AS in paramedic. It looks great when applying to be a PO but is also an option to keep in the back pocket in case is ever needed.
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Old 17 October 2017, 17:18
osubuckeye762 osubuckeye762 is offline
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I am going to state what many others have said and forgo the CJ degree.

Do you plan to stay in local LE or do you have any career aspirations to go federal?

Many agencies are looking for Emergency Management, Homeland Security, Forensics, Accounting, International Affairs, and anything cyber related.

I got my CJ degree back when it was popular but for the last few years it has been useless. I enjoyed the classes but I wish I would have followed my gut (at the time) and got my BA in Sociology.

I stayed on and got my second degree in History and have gotten more calls for that than the other.

If I could do it over I would have went the International Affairs/Cultural Anthropology or Forensic Psych route.

I will say though that my good friend got his BA in CJ and then went and got his MA in either CJ or Public Administration and climbed up the career ladder in OH DOC.
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Old 17 October 2017, 21:01
Fu King Lawyer Fu King Lawyer is offline
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Originally Posted by Kip View Post

Re: A foreign language - I've heard varying opinions with regards to degrees in Spanish and French and the like. Some people I've heard from have gotten degrees in the aforementioned languages, but didn't speak them, so they ended up not using their degree. Other people have had the opposite experience, where they got a degree in Spanish, coupled it with a semester or more studying abroad and are not fluent and working in Spain or Mexico, etc.

One of my cousins actually has a degree in Spanish and is working for a non-profit in TX where her knowing Spanish has been a major asset.

I have been wanting to learn a foreign language, though, and have been playing around with a few apps like DuoLingo.

Again, excellent advice.
Kip,
Forgive me? When I mentioned foreign languages helping you get hired - I should have been clearer. Mea Culpa.

You are in Florida and you can't throw a rock without hitting a Spanish speaker. I doubt that a degree in Spanish (for that matter, French) would give you an advantage in the hiring process.

However, with the amount of Russian/Eastern European crime syndicates in Florida (particularly along the Eastern seaboard) or a language such as Chinese whether it be Cantonese or Mandarin, or a tourist language such as Japanese or Korean, you might very well get a heads up.

This is just the observation of an old man no longer involved, but when I was, if you had any of the above, I would be pressing to hire you over somebody who spoke a language that is not in demand due to the availability of speakers already in the agency.

v/r
fkl

BTW: Back in the late 70s/early 80s the Agency was trying to hire librarians. They had so much raw info and nobody that could catalogue and retrieve it. You never know what will be in demand, hell back then if you were good at narcotics, you had a whole career in front of you. Now, with the skill set you are good for a field test.
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Old 17 October 2017, 21:21
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I have a CJ degree and am a 20 year cop. The only reason, one and only, is I make 20% more than a cop who has no degree.

Study cyber something, accounting, a language, anything.

A CJ degree is one step above gender studies in usefulness IMHO.
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Old 17 October 2017, 22:30
Kip Kip is offline
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Originally Posted by osubuckeye762 View Post
I am going to state what many others have said and forgo the CJ degree.

Do you plan to stay in local LE or do you have any career aspirations to go federal?
I have aspirations of going federal, but I figured staying local for 2 or 3 years would help as far as experience went.
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Old 17 October 2017, 23:37
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I have aspirations of going federal, but I figured staying local for 2 or 3 years would help as far as experience went.
Well, ask yourself. Do I like doing fun shit, or do I like paper laden bureaucracy?
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Old 18 October 2017, 10:12
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Well, ask yourself. Do I like doing fun shit, or do I like paper laden bureaucracy?
Well, there is something to that, but there is also the fact that you don't put organized crime figures away for thirty years with a two page police report where half of the report is fill in the blanks and checked off boxes.
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Old 18 October 2017, 11:38
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I have both an As and a BS in CJ. I know for me personally, I will never be a career LEO or stay in the role of an EP agent. I am working towards my MBA since it will provided me with the opportunity to move into corporate more easily should I choose to go that route. I believe in having a plan B and this is mine. After I finish my MBA I am going to look into son IT certifications in order to be a better, well rounded candidate for other opportunities.
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