Those with careers in corrections often work with people who have committed crimes, while law enforcement officers, such as police officers, uphold the laws and catch people who violate them. Studies in criminal justice can be applied to either of these fields. Continue reading to learn about training and degree programs in law enforcement, corrections and criminal justice, and get career info for graduates.

Criminal justice encompasses both the corrections and law enforcement fields. In the corrections industry, probation officers oversee and monitor those who are put on probation or awaiting trial, while parole officers perform similar duties and supervise offenders after they’ve been paroled from prison. Correctional treatment specialists usually work in correctional institutions and similar facilities to evaluate the progress of inmates. They may also develop rehab plans for inmates after prison and on parole. Detention officers work in correctional facilities, such as jails and prisons or juvenile detention centers, guarding individuals who’ve been convicted of crimes. Requirements for most institutions are to be at least 21 years of age, pass multiple examinations and have no felony convictions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Law enforcement careers include such job titles as police officer, park ranger, border patrol agent, customs agent, or Secret Service agent. Police officers may also work in a variety of settings and perform such tasks as responding to emergencies, issuing tickets, writing incident reports, completing paperwork and testifying in court. Police officers, as well as state troopers, enforce vehicle and traffic laws and manage accident scenes. Detectives actively investigate criminal activity by conducting interviews, studying crime scenes and making arrests.

Whether you want to start a career in law enforcement or corrections, there are many academic programs are available.

Education Options

For most jobs in law enforcement, a high school level education may be the only requirement, though more training may be required in a subject like criminal justice in some cases. For a career in corrections, a bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject may be mandatory, and a master’s degree may be required for some positions. These are just a few of the degree options available:

  • Law Enforcement Degree Programs
  • Criminal Justice Degree Programs
  • Correctional Studies Degree Programs


While the need for in-person training may be required in certain areas of law enforcement, such as police officer training, there are some online courses and programs available in the fields of criminal justice, corrections, and law enforcement. These are just some of the degree options available:

  • Online Law Enforcement Degree
  • Online Criminal Justice Degree
  • Online Corrections Degree


Some careers may require certification. Probation officers and similar professionals may need you to complete a training program and earn a certification, such as:

  • Corrections Officer Certification
  • Jailer Certification
  • Prison Guard Certification

Career Options

Social work is another option many in corrections may be interested in, as well as, pre-trial service or substance abuse treatment. Law enforcement officials may seek positions as police sergeants, police captains or deputy chiefs. The following are careers that apply:

  • Criminal Justice Careers
  • Corrections Careers
  • Law Enforcement Careers

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS projected that probation officers and correctional treatment specialists would decline 7% in employment numbers from 2016-2026 ( Meanwhile, employment of police and detectives was expected to increase 7% during the same time period (BLS). Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists earned a median annual salary of $44,430 in May 2018, while police and sheriff’s patrol officers earned a median salary of $61,380 per year, and detectives earned a median annual salary of $81,920 (BLS).

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