Certificate Programs in Criminal Justice

Certificate programs in the criminal justice field are a convenient choice for both new high school graduates eager to enter the work force and experienced adults seeking a career change. The versatile programs are offered through vocational or business schools, community colleges, and even four-year institutions of higher learning. Programs will vary by length, depth of content, and cost. Learn about the programs available to get you headed toward a criminal justice career today.

Pick any field within criminal justice and there is probably a corresponding certificate program to support professionals or train and prepare new ones. A basic certificate in criminal justice will give you a good feel for what topics would be covered in more advanced degrees, such as an associate degree.

Starting with a criminal justice certificate may help you decide if you would be interested in higher degrees within the field, with just a fraction of the time and cost involved in getting those higher degrees. The associate degree in criminal justice requires about seventy credit hours, but certificate programs may range from fifteen to thirty credits, depending on the institute of higher learning offering the certification.

Certificate programs prepare you for occupations at the entry level. Depending on the school, most programs require only a high school diploma or GED for entry. Some programs even offer opportunities for high school students who express interest in taking college-level courses while still in secondary school. Explore the many different types of criminal justice fields you can enter with a certificate.

Legal secretaries are usually trained on the job; however, if you are just entering the field or have no legal background, a certificate program could familiarize you with the jargon, legal system, and knowledge needed to be a competent and competitive legal secretary.

Paralegal certificate programs may provide a well-rounded snapshot of your job responsibilities as a paralegal. Topics covered will introduce you to the ethical, professional, and legal ramifications of the career as well as the core essentials such as writing reports, contracts, and legal research.

Security certificate courses may include state-mandated training, weapons and physical training, procedures, writing reports, communication courses, and even specialty training such as crisis intervention or antiterrorism. Many states mandate passing a security guard course for eligibility to gain licensure.

Private investigators may attend certificate courses to gain specialty knowledge within their profession or to get started as a PI if they have no law enforcement background. Certificates are also awarded through specialty courses such as computer forensics, evidence collection and submission, or even background investigations.

Court reporting programs are usually offered through vocational schools. The certificate program may cover terminology, reporting methods of technology use, composition, and speed-building courses to turn out a competent multimedia reporter.

Law enforcement careers may begin with a certificate program. Although some police departments and academies require candidates to hold at least an associate degree in criminal justice, this is not a uniform rule across the nation. Get started in law enforcement with a basic criminal justice certificate program to provide a foundation for your career or specialty occupation, such as crime scene technician or computer analyst.

Certificates are also sought out by licensed and registered professionals looking to expand their knowledge base, venture into new career territories, or make a complete occupational switch. Lawyers and advanced paralegals may look to a career in dispute resolution. Programs are available for professionals interested in mediation, which build on the student's professional licensure and experience. Similarly, registered nurses can take criminal justice or legal nurse certifications to enter the legal arena as nurse consultants, again building on their current career and experience.

Example: Criminal Justice Certificate Program

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