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    Hello, I am currently working on my associates degree. It will be in either general studies or business administration. I also plan on getting a certificate in either law enforcement or homeland security. I've read that a lot of departments don't really care what you're degree is in and some don't even care if you have college or not. What are your opinions? Thanks

  • #2
    Business administration is a nice major, so is math, physics, economics and several others. What does it matter if the department doesn't care if you have college or not? Only an entitled underachiever would come to the table with bare minimum requirements and expect to be competitive. You don't want to be that guy do you?

    “This life’s hard, but it’s harder if you’re stupid.”

    George V. Higgins--The Friends of Eddie Coyle

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    • #3
      Most departments I've seen require at least 60 credits or the equivalency of an associates. Some waive that requirement in lieu of experience.

      Area of study matters in one way or another. I've heard a lot of guys regret getting a degree in Criminal Justice because they realize that everything they paid to learn in school was repeated and re learned in the agency academy.

      Even if the department doesn't care, it would be wise to get a degree outside of law enforcement in case LE doesn't work out. Many skills learned in other degrees (business, psychology, math) have transferable skills that can be used in various professions.

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      • #4
        I highly recommend courses outside of the criminal justice realm. Especially ones that have practical, real-world application. There are two reasons for this recommendation.

        First, all those "non" LE classes do, in fact, have a place in law enforcement. A business management degree can prepare you for taking a leadership role in an agency or a investigations slot in financial or white-collar crime units. A psychology degree opens up avenues in crisis intervention and negotiations. A wildlife management degree opens up conservation and recreation enforcement jobs. The list is nearly endless. What does a criminal justice degree prepare you for? Nothing. It's not even that useful for becoming a police officer.

        Second, the cold hard facts are that a large number of people who start a law enforcement career won't finish it. We lose a lot of people as the years tick on. Even people who love the job can get hurt or unjustly fired. When those kind of things happen, it's nice to have a fall back option.
        Originally posted by kontemplerande
        Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

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        • #5
          Some food for thought.

          1. Many discover police work is not for them and leave the profession. If that happens, a Criminal Justice degree is worthless when it comes to getting a job in the private sector.

          2. Because of the unusually high injury and stress rate, many cops wind up going out early on a disability retirement. The money is good for a while but inflation catches up and you will need to get a second job. Again, a CJ degree will be worthless when it comes to getting a job in the private sector.

          3. If you do make a lifelong career in law enforcement, you no doubt want to go up the ladder. When you do, you will be dealing with issues like labor relations, budgeting, marketing, public relations, communications, completed staff work, statistics, personnel management, research, grant writing, community outreach, accounting, logistics, fleet management, audits, and equipment acquisition just to name a few. When this happens, you will be kicking yourself in the head because you got a CJ degree instead of one in Business or Public Administration.

          Consider going for a degree in Business. While you will take classes in core business subjects, you will have plenty of free electives you can use to take almost as many classes in criminal justice as your core subjects. Your degree will be in business but you will get a CJ education at the same time that will hopefully give you enough information to help you score higher on civil service exams for law enforcement jobs. Should things later go south (dissatisfaction with a law enforcement career, disability retirement, etc.) having a degree in business will open many doors to getting a meaningful job that pays well with a private company.
          Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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          • #6
            I appreciate all the replies. I will most likely get my AS in business administration.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by L-1 View Post
              Some food for thought.

              1. Many discover police work is not for them and leave the profession. If that happens, a Criminal Justice degree is worthless when it comes to getting a job in the private sector.
              The whole post is good advice, but this is especially true. Twenty people graduated my academy class about 3.5 years ago. Eight still work for the department. Four have sought employment with other agencies, and the others are no longer employed in law enforcement. Two of the four people didn't make it through FTO and got on with smaller departments, while two recently transferred to other departments. That's 40% attrition in less than 4 years. A CJ degree isn't necessarily a detriment to non-police employment, but it's pretty limiting in other fields. At my undergrad university, CJ was almost like sampling psychology, sociology, statistics, political science, and law. You got very basic beginnings in all of those classes, but you never gained expertise in any one field. There are differing opinions of CJ degrees on this site and within law enforcement, but I personally feel that any LE-related job expertise will be learned at a good academy; your subject of choice in a degree program should be something that interests you and sets you apart from other applicants.

              I got a BA in History with a minor in a foreign language (that I studied for fun). I went on to get a graduate degree. All of these emphasized writing, which is a critical skill as a police officer. I feel they have helped me more than switching my major to CJ (as I intended to do my freshman year) would have done. One of my academy classmates had a degree in industrial engineering from a prestigious (and rival) school. He also went on to a specialty assignment and is still with the department (he's a great cop). There are people with CJ degrees that do well in law enforcement, but it will be harder in the long run if you aren't in the LE field.

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              • #8
                Excellent summary Paul150, you put it into relative terms.

                “This life’s hard, but it’s harder if you’re stupid.”

                George V. Higgins--The Friends of Eddie Coyle

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Paul150 View Post
                  The whole post is good advice, but this is especially true. Twenty people graduated my academy class about 3.5 years ago. Eight still work for the department. Four have sought employment with other agencies, and the others are no longer employed in law enforcement. Two of the four people didn't make it through FTO and got on with smaller departments, while two recently transferred to other departments. That's 40% attrition in less than 4 years.
                  Yep. My academy class was also 20 in 1994. Of that class, I'm the only one still working for the department and only one other is still in the profession with a neighboring agency.
                  Originally posted by kontemplerande
                  Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

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                  • #10
                    Whatever you decide, keep your GPA up. You never know, you may want to continue on into graduate school. I have a mediocre GPA and my choices in grad schools are limited as a result. Just a thought. Having a 2nd or 3rd language will also help.
                    Judge me by the enemies I have made----Unknown

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                    • #11
                      Can I be Police Officer with an Associates in Homeland Security and Psychology? I will eventually be getting my Masters, hopefully when I'm employed (by an agency)

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                      • #12
                        You can be a police officer with an Associates in Cooking in the Kitchen for all they care.
                        The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed.

                        I Am the Sheepdog.


                        "And maybe just remind the few, if ill of us they speak,
                        that we are all that stands between
                        the monsters and the weak." - Michael Marks


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