An online corrections degree focuses on the supervision, treatment, and rehabilitation of offenders during incarceration, probation, and parole. Students learn about the daily operations of courts, prisons, and other correctional facilities. Online programs generally offer curricula similar to campus-based programs while providing flexible scheduling options for learners with personal and professional commitments.
Graduates often pursue careers in the criminal justice system or the private sector. This guide provides an overview of the corrections field, covers the skills and knowledge students gain while earning an online corrections degree, and details career and salary prospects for degree holders.
Corrections programs cover the history, theories, and legal practices and procedures related to incarceration, parole, probation, and rehabilitation of offenders. Graduates work in various criminal justice settings and with diverse criminal populations. Students earning a criminal justice corrections degree online or on campus prepare for professional roles in law enforcement, homeland security, institutional and community-based corrections, rehabilitation services, and counseling.
Many professionals with an online criminal justice degree work as correctional officers who supervise prison populations and maintain order in detention facilities. A bachelor's in corrections also qualifies individuals for positions as probation and parole officers, who help offenders fulfill the conditions of their release. Other graduates become bailiffs and provide security in the court system.
In addition to law enforcement roles, graduates with a corrections degree can pursue security and safety careers in private industries and businesses. Graduates may also enter supervisory and counseling roles in hospitals and mental health facilities. Others become researchers in law enforcement agencies, where they apply crime mapping and public safety analysis techniques.
Bachelor's degree holders generally have specialized skills and a competitive edge over job seekers without college experience. Although entry-level corrections positions do not typically require college-level training, a growing number of companies and local, state, and federal agencies require job applicants to hold a bachelor's degree. Earning a correctional officer degree online can qualify graduates for higher-paying jobs in supervisory roles.
Before pursuing an online corrections degree, students should understand typical coursework and internship requirements and how knowledge gained through these components applies to careers in the field. The best online programs equip students with professional competencies and provide the interpersonal skills needed to supervise and communicate with offenders. This section details skills required to work as a correctional professional and how these skills relate to specific jobs.
Earning an online corrections degree helps students gain knowledge that applies to a variety of professional roles. Graduates often work in institutional and community-based correctional environments, treatment and rehabilitation facilities, security and safety settings, and alternative correctional programs. The best corrections programs teach students critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and communication. Because corrections professionals often work in dangerous environments, curricula generally highlight best practices for maintaining security and safety.
While students planning to enter careers in the field benefit from a broad curriculum, learners should also look for programs that offer electives, specializations, and experiential learning opportunities that directly relate to their career interests. For example, aspiring law enforcement and corrections officers should consider programs that offer courses and internships in criminal law, methods, procedures, and investigation.
Students interested in correctional administration should choose a program that includes correctional operations and organizational behavior classes. These learners can also pursue a second major or a minor in a business-related discipline, which may require classes in budgeting or personnel management. Some programs offer concentrations and field placements that help learners develop the technological and research skills necessary for careers in crime mapping and geographic profiling.
Many programs include courses that introduce best practices for working with special populations, such as female offenders or juveniles. As models of restorative justice expand throughout the fields of law enforcement, corrections, and social work, students interested in alternative criminal justice approaches should investigate programs that cover techniques for conflict resolution, victim-offender mediation, and peacemaking and sentencing circles.
Many graduates of corrections programs monitor offenders in detention facilities. Other degree holders work in parole and probation services or in law enforcement positions. Businesses and other organizations hire corrections professionals to maintain security and safety.
Online corrections degree programs help students gain the skills necessary to work in a variety of settings, including healthcare and clinical facilities. Graduates can provide counseling and support in social service agencies, and others develop restorative justice programs as alternatives to traditional punishment and rehabilitation models.
Annual Median Salary: $38,000
Security officers guard and protect premises by preventing trespassing, theft, and property destruction. They maintain safety by investigating violations and confronting dangerous behaviors. Officers with a bachelor's degree typically advance to managerial positions, where they direct the activities of security staff.
Annual Median Salary: $39,000
Corrections officers supervise prison populations in detention facilities. They maintain order, guard inmates, and enforce rules and regulations. Most corrections officers hold a bachelor's degree and specialized certifications.
Annual Median Salary: $40,000
These specialized law enforcement officers work in courtrooms, maintaining orderly procedures and escorting judges, witnesses, defendants, and jury members to assigned areas. Bailiffs call court to order, guard sequestered juries, and keep order during trials and other proceedings.
Annual Median Salary: $44,630
These counselors provide care for individuals struggling with addiction and mental health or behavioral issues. Counselors with a corrections background monitor and develop treatment plans for offenders, often working within prisons or with parolees.
Annual Median Salary: $47,000
These professionals coordinate the transition and rehabilitation of individuals released on parole or probation and guide them as they fulfill the conditions of their release. These specialists must have a bachelor's degree in corrections, criminal justice, or a related field.
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