Education Requirements for a Career in Criminal Justice

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Criminal justice has been considered as field for men for a long time; however, in recent times, the number of women working in the criminal justice system has gone up (UWP Online, 2018). Always looking for a challenge and having the passion to help others, has created my calling for having a degree in criminal justice. Having the experience to know inmates at a personal level and being educated about the prison, in a different light, has given me an advantage to being a great asset to offenders. Having a loved one in prison and seeing the system fail them, made me attracted to the challenge of working in the criminal justice system. After graduating from Lakeland University, my goal is to continue my education with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville or the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to earn a Master of Science: Criminal Justice (Criminal Justice Degree Schools, 2018). I hope to possess a job with the Department of Correction through the state as a correctional officer and work my way to being a parole officer. Working as a correctional officer will allow me to gain experience for being a parole officer. Earning my masters in the Criminal Justice will allow me to expand pathways such as working at a federal level as a parole officer.

Depending on the type of level you would like to acquire depends on the amount of education you will have to complete. Education requirements for being a parole officer at state level requires that you hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in corrections, psychology, criminal justice, social work, or another related degree (, 2018). For those that want to become a federal parole officer, it is required that they hold a master’s degree in the same areas as the state. In addition to the minimum requirement of education, applicants must pass several tests; psychological and physical examinations, to even be considered for the position. My intended major, criminal justice, is appropriate to acquiring this position. I hope is to go on to achieve my masters after finishing my courses at Lakeland University.

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Being prepared and suited for the job is critical in any criminal justice job. Parole officers have not only the responsibility of the offender, but the safety of the community also. For entry level positions it is not a requirement for having experience; however, having experience will allow you to be a better parole officer and rise on the ladder quickly. Being supervised by an experienced parole officer, you will be able to experience some tasks the jobs inquires: work with defendants or offenders in the office, school, or home, attend court hearings, complete court reports, and conduct meetings and interviews (, 2018). Officers need to possess certain skills: assertiveness, open mind, maturity, integrity, team skills, oral and written communications skills, and organizational skills (Human Services 101, 2018). My skills that I possess are those needed for being a parole officer. My life experiences has made me be a lot more mature than what my age is, allowing me to be open minded, and not judgmental from the beginning. This skill has also allowed me to improve my team skills and my communication skills. Through personal experience of having a family member as an offender has benefited me, to help me in this career by allowing me to know what it is like for an offender and get to experience another perspective, and different type of learning from a traditional classroom setting.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistic, (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018) the Wisconsin median salary for an average parole officer in 2012 was reported at $51,350. However, certain factors can considerably vary the wages: geographical location, educational background, agency or department employer, bilingual and seniority. Based on jurisdiction, minimum qualifications, and promotion potential can also differ the salary. The most important factor that is recognized in officer’s salary is your education credentials. Some jurisdictions preference hiring professionals who have a master’s degree, even though the minimum degree requirement is a bachelor’s. Candidates with a doctoral degree with experience more lucrative salaries because of their extensive expertise. Juvenile Probations or parole officers that have a degree in developmental psychology or juvenile justice are more likely to possess useful skills that allow for greater professional success and higher salaries (Probation, Parole and Juvenile Probation Officer Salaries in Wisconsin, 2018). Wisconsin had 1420 parole officer employment, with an annual mean wage of $50,340. Job announcement: 1801857, 1801858, (State of Wisconsin Government Jobs, 2018) from the DOC states that the salary for a full time starting at entry level is $19.19 an hour and senior level positons start at $22.46 an hour, with bilingual receiving an extra $1.00 an hour pay.

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Due to the high level of stress and heavy workload, it leads to a many job openings. From 2016 to 2026, it is projected that the employment of positions will grow by six percent, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Growth for the employment is dependent on the amount of funding the government, state, and local level, receive for their probation and parole systems (Probation Officer Salary, 2018). Probation and parole, being an alternative to incarceration, will have the demand for the position to continue. Parole will continue to be needed for those who are released from prison in the future.

Challenges arises in every job relating to criminal justice: dangerous and difficult work, long hours, emotional and physical draining. Factors are dependent on your challenges of obtaining the job; consequently for me, I have visited an inmate in a state institution. With that, my name in the system and it can be seen as a conflict of interest. Other challenges that can arise for anyone trying to land a position in this field is completing training; being mentally and physically tough without abusing your authority is a challenge because a lot of candidates go into the job with an over powerful mentality or attitude. Having a goal of getting a bachelor’s has now changed to the challenge and goal of getting a masters in Criminal Justice, to open more pathways and allow me to extend my knowledge for the passion. Having many job openings is a concern because of the dangerous work it entails, makes me eager to talk and follow the life of a correctional officer and a parole officer. Education can only prepare one so much in the case of working with a degree in criminal justice.

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Education Requirements for a Career in Criminal Justice. (2019, Jun 25). Retrieved from