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So you are ready to embark on a successful career in criminal justice? Before you do so, think about the school that you have picked. Is it the right school for you? You have to be absolutely sure that you have picked the right school and program that meets your personal and professional goals.

When you are choosing to enroll for a criminal justice program, you have to bear in mind that after graduation you need to be able to find a good, well-paying job. The right school is one that is accredited by an accredited body. Pursuing a non-accredited program will get you nowhere.

What is accreditation?

Universities that are accredited have undergone regular inspections and checks to ensure that they impart the highest level of quality education. As a student, when you choose criminal justice programs, you have to have a certain sense of trust in the program. Trust ensures that you are receiving world class education.

Why does accreditation matter?

When prospective employers receive applications from a huge pool of candidates, accreditation is often used as a great way to shortlist them. A candidate who has graduated from an accredited university will usually be given preference. Accreditation reinforces that the candidate possesses the necessary skills to succeed in a criminal justice career. Choosing the right degree program is the most important decision you will ever make.

How to choose a criminal justice school?

Evaluate your options based on the following questions:

  • What type of degree do you need?

Your current level of education, personal aspirations, and financial considerations influence your decision to pursue criminal justice degree program. For an entry-level position in the criminal justice field you need an Associate’s degree, provided you have at least a high school diploma. Private career schools and community colleges award you an Associate’s degree. However, if you have aimed higher at a managerial position or at a post within a federal agency then you will need at least a Bachelor’s degree. People who have worked for several years at a criminal justice firm and now want to transition to a teaching or research position are eligible for a master’s degree.

  • What do you want to specialize in?

You have to choose a specialization when you decide to go to criminal justice school. There are a variety of specializations such as law enforcement, corrections, and private security.

  • Are you really choosing an accredited school?

While choosing criminal justice programs, make sure you are choosing an accredited program since there are many unscrupulous schools that only claim to be accredited. Once students graduate from such institutions, they realize their folly when employers disregard their credentials. Prevent this from happening to your career by doing thorough research on accreditation.

  • What is the ranking of your school?

Rankings do not help you determine whether the school is right for you. Whether the school is a perfect fit for you is something you have to decide for yourself. The Journal of Criminal Justice Education usually carries rankings of the various schools.

  • What type of program is it?

Choose the program based on your work schedule and time commitment. If full-time is not possible for you then check out the part-time and evening class options. Some programs are conducted on weekends as well. Don’t rush into the program. Take your time and make your choice wisely.

Picking the right accredited criminal justice program is a life-altering decision. Make the wrong choice and you could end up regretting this decision for life. An accreditation not only helps you stand out above the rest of the crowd but also earns you respect and job offers from happy prospective employers.

With a well-respected degree in hand, you will have plenty of options for career advancement and securing a lucrative job. You will be in demand at most organizations with an accredited degree. So make the right choice today!

Article written and published by Sun Maag. Northwestern College provides career-focused training, diplomas and degree programs in Healthcare, Business, Legal and Nursing fields in Chicago, Illinois.