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A criminal justice degree is a standard college path by which an individual may enter the law enforcement field. There are a number of different pros and cons to the idea of getting a criminal justice degree, and you will have to consider them carefully before deciding to spend your time and money pursuing a college degree that may or may not help you in the criminal justice job search.
Pro: Promotion Possibility
Most police positions will at some point or another require a criminal justice degree as a prerequisite for a promotion. Having the degree already in your background means that you will not be denied a promotion because of lack of training or education. This can be a real time saver once you have entered the field, because you will not have to make time on your busy schedule for further classes.
A criminal justice degree is expensive, as most college degrees are, and it is no guarantee of a police or criminal justice job. Because many police departments have their own physical and psychological requirements, you might complete the degree, only to find that you cannot jump high enough or do not have good enough vision to secure a police position even with your degree.
Pro: Help in the Field
A degree will definitely help you in the criminal justice field, because you will already have knowledge of the type of work that you will be doing. However, you will likely still have to attend classes and special training in order to keep your police job or advance within the field.
Con: May Not Be Necessary
In many cases, criminal justice is a field that can be entered without a degree, if you have some of the proper background. For example, if you serve in the military as a military policeman, or if you have experience as a security guard, you can often enter the criminal justice field without a formal degree. Many police agencies have a training academy where new recruits are automatically enrolled. These academies will teach new recruits everything that they need to know to operate as a police officer, so some of what you may have learned in college may be duplicated, or may not be applicable.