Education in Law Enforcement
Hey guys, looking for some feed back from any LEOs. Or anyone else who would have an idea. I searched the forum, but didn't find anything relevant.
My current education plan is to get an AA in Administration of Justice, transfer to a SFSU, and get my Bachelors in Criminal Justice. However, I'd like to minor in something beneficial. After looking over my transcripts, I discovered I have 3/4ths of the units required for an AA in Political Science, so I'm leaning towards that a little bit. The other subjects I'm looking at are Nutrition and Dietetics (more of a hobby I've gotten into) and History. I've also been told it would be a great idea to either get an AA or a minor in Spanish, since I live in California.
My question is, if you were on a hiring board, what would be a minor or second degree that would stand out and compliment a Bachelors in Criminal Justice? If it makes any difference in what you're looking for, my goal is to work for the Marshals Service. I don't know if being a federal LEO will change anything.
I have been on numerous hiring boards and interview committees and I see this question in various forms every so often. "Will a degree in criminal justice get me a LE job?" or will this sort of education give me an edge?
I have a degree in graphic design (MA) and now Im a Lt in a PD.
Hiring practices (for state and local LE at least) vary widely across the nation. In states like mine that hire based on State Civil Service requirements, what matters first and foremost is your rank on the civil service list, which is based on a test score. A burger flipper with a 2 yr degree and a 100% on the Civil service test will be hired over a person with a BA in CJ who scored a 70% 9 times out of 10. If you are tied (by test score)with other candidates; sure your degree will enter into the equation, but so will employment experience (do you stick to it?), military experience, firefighting/ems experience, experience in security/loss prevention/etc, and plain old general maturity and "life experience".
Do you present a profesional demeanor during interviews, are you prepared for the common interview questions, do you provide all required data and make all necessary appointments required in the hiring process? Not having that resume in by deadline or missing a doctors appointment does not bode well for attention to detail and time management.
I guess what I am trying to say is that you need to present a "package" vs hoping that education alone will get you hired.
Last edited by tgace; 9/15/2010 3:22am at .
I second that. I have a BS in psychology. My brother is a police LT and he has a Criminal Justice Degree with minor in forensics. However, what got him hired was his military experience. What got me hired was that I started in Bouncing then went to Juvenille justice. If you volunteer at a fire department or police department, you will have a lot better chance of getting hired than getting a degree.
Matter of fact, people looked down on me when they found out I had a degree. I made it common practice to not tell anyone. Otherwise they though I was some college prep. I heard this a lot: "I got my education from the school of hard knocks!"(in redneck voice)...
Where college comes into play is when you have already been hired and are looking for promotion. That is when it will set you apart. Also, in my state you can get extra money for you education.
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Thanks for the help guys.
I understand theres a lot more to getting hired than education. I start training for the Police Cadet program at the junior college I'm attending this Friday, and whenever I finally save up enough money for my own car, I had plans on volunteering with my local Sheriffs Department as a VIP.
Also, do you guys know where I can find any civil service practice exams or sample questions? I've only been able to find a couple, and half the links are broken.
This is the only worthwhile one I can find, but its a little bit short:
Whatever you do...DO NOT MAJOR IN "CRIMINAL JUSTICE"...it's one of the most worthless degrees ever. Period. Major in something like Organizational Management, Business...or something that will allow you to use it in a job outside the field. Otherwise, you'll be stuck with a degree that's good for absolutely nothing. Trust me on this...after having spent tens of thousands on an AA, BA, and MS in Criminal Justice, I had to go back and get a Bachelor's in business to even remain hopeful of getting a decent job outside of the LE world. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket, dude.
Crim is useless if your going to be anything other than PD, and maybe State. Yes, its over saturated, but it all depends on what kind of dept. your getting into. FBI? Crim is not a "no," but a "**** no!" Anyway, just saying Crim is TOTALLY useless...just mostly. Really a BA is pretty damn generalized form of education. Most places don't much care what your degree is in. My friend went to culinary arts school and works in HR. Another guy has Crim and is security at a nuclear power plant. The BA gets you in the door, then you have to sell yourself (in an interview).
For a minor? I'd say language, language, language! Makes you very marketable in many fields. That, and computers. Not sure what is most desired in computers, though (comp. sci, networking, etc)
I agree with what my brothers in blue have said. IMO the selling of Crim Just programs by colleges is very misleading for the young person looking to get into LE. Far better to enlist, be a vol. fireman, have experience in security/bouncing/loss prevention, etc. if breaking into a PD is your goal. For college degrees I would look at regular Law programs, psychology, education, language, english comp (WRITING SKILL++++), etc. That way you have far more marketable skills if the LE thing just never works out.
Thanks for all the input, everyone. Especially to daishi, for actually answering my question.
You all have raised some good points I'll take into consideration. Again, I wasn't banking on just education getting me in; I realize a lot more is taken into thought when hiring.
As far as putting my eggs into one basket goes: that's what the minors, AA's and possible double-majors are for. I mean, ****, a lot of Political Science majors end up going to law school, and being a lawyer wouldn't be too bad if I could get picked up by the NRA, Calguns, or be on the team for a case such as MacDonald vs. Chicago, or Heller vs. D.C. Even being a public defender, and maybe a Judge later on down the road wouldn't be too shabby either.
Take the spanish minor.
Being able to communicate in a second language is useful all over the world, in many kinds of jobs, and I would assume even moreso in California for spanish.
I have a BA in poli sci and haven't been able to apply for numerous positions due to language requirements.
Yeah, with Spanish you've got a foot in the door to Border Patrol and DHS, DEA...though with being a Spanish speaker for BP, you're probably not going to get a cushy billet on the Canadian border.
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