In the professional world, there’s no such thing as having too many credentials behind your name. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities out there for dedicated, working professionals to augment their skills and increase their earning potential through certificate programs. For those who are interested in the field, a certificate in criminal justice can be a great way to start the journey down this exciting career.
Benefits of a Criminal Justice Certificate
While there are certain positions within the criminal justice industry that only require a certificate in order to qualify for employment, if one really wants to take advantage of all of the growth potential available within this field, he or she will typically have to continue his or education beyond certification. Yet that’s not to say that earning a certificate doesn’t add value. On the contrary, it could prove to be very beneficial for those in the following situations:
- Have an associate's or bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field, but wants to pursue a specific criminal justice career.
- Would like to obtain a graduate degree in criminal justice, yet his or her bachelor’s degree was in an unrelated discipline.
- Currently working in a job related to the criminal justice field, and he or she wishes to further his or advancement opportunities through specialized training.
In certain situations, one may not even have to work in criminal justice in order to benefit from a certification related to it. Oftentimes, current and prospective employers simply look upon the fact that an employee or job applicant has advanced credentials with favor. That’s because in many cases, a company is not simply looking for the candidate with the most experience or the strongest educational background. Rather, it’s looking for candidate that has drive and ambition, and isn’t afraid to take the initiative to increase his or her skills independent of an employment requirement. Having a certificate in criminal justice certainly shows that.
A Challenging Certification
A major reason behind the value that companies place on a criminal justice certificate comes from the knowledge that earning it isn’t easy. Although coursework is accelerated and often allows for completion in a mere matter of weeks, the curriculum itself is challenging. Even though participants in a certification course are not pursuing the same objective as students in a university program, they are often included in the same classes. Thus, the myth that the requirements for earning a certificate are less difficult than those of a degree program are proven to be just that. Certification students still have to participate in classes dealing with the following scientific disciplines:
- Forensic psychology
- Human biology
- Legal theory
- Business and personnel administration
Advantages Over Degree Programs
Yet there are some elements of truth to the idea that earning a certificate is much easier than a degree. These, however, serve to support the strength of a certificate in criminal justice rather than diminish it. The first is the time requirements. Unlike university programs, which require participants to take a certain number of credit hours on subjects that have only a peripheral relation to criminal justice, certification programs allow one to expedite the learning progress by only requiring curriculum that’s directly-related to the fields in which they will one day be working. This allows for the completion of some certification programs in as little as 15 credit hours.
The second benefit that certifications offer over degree programs is flexibility. Where most university courses are forced to follow a very well-defined schedule, certificate programs, particularly those that are available online, allow for much freedom when it comes to completing coursework. Most are structured under the assumption that participants are also working while attending school. The online learning environment allows students to complete their required work in the time that they have, at whatever time they have available. It also permits them to finish the curriculum faster if they choose. Plus, learning in an online setting requires increased interaction between students and instructors in order to ensure that course expectations are clear and that the content is being relayed in an effective way.
Positions within the criminal justice industry are in high demand. Having a certificate in criminal justice could give one an advantage over other candidates when it comes to filling those jobs. However, obtaining a certificate isn’t easy; that’s why those who have one are looked upon so favorably by prospective employers. If one is willing to put the time and effort into earning his or her certification, he or she could enjoy the benefits because of the hardwork put into the program.