Criminal justice degrees from a community college are a path for those who plan on a career in law enforcement working at the city, state or federal level. Completing a criminal justice degree is also popular with police who wish to advance in rank. There is such demand for criminal justice degrees that nearly all Chicago area community colleges offer this program.
While the degree is popular future job growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is slower than average for all occupations. This may be challenging for new students as there will be strong competition for law enforcement jobs. Despite the lower than average growth rate, law enforcement rarely has layoffs, the benefits are strong and the pay can be good.
In 2013, Chicago police officers have a starting salary of $43,104. After 12 months the salary jumps to $61,530 and at the 18 month mark officers are making $65,016. There are many opportunities for advancement within the Chicago police department. A motivated individual can create a bright future by studying for department tests, completing a 4 year or graduate degree and have strong job performance reviews.
The following Chicago area community colleges offer criminal justice degree programs:
- City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago
- College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn
- Elgin Community College, Elgin
- Harper College, Palatine
- Joliet Junior College, Joliet
- Kankakee Community College, Kankakee
- College of Lake County, Grayslake
- McHenry County College, Crystal Lake
- Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills
- Morton College, Cicero
- Oakton Community College, Des Plaines
- Prairie State College, Chicago Heights
- Triton College, River Grove
The Future of Law Enforcement
Technology is playing a larger role in law enforcement than ever before and this trend is only going to continue. Many police departments place a high value on 4 year degrees in areas such as accounting, computer science and biology. To meet this demand, most community colleges have programs to make it easy to transfer to a university and earn a bachelors degree.