Law Enforcement vs Corrections: Career ROI

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Updated: March 25, 2024, Reading time: 5 minutes

People who decide to work in protective services typically have strong moral convictions about justice and civic duty. If you’re one of them, you’re probably thinking of paving a career path in Law Enforcement or Corrections.

Comparing Law Enforcement vs Corrections

While both professions focus on safeguarding people and administering public safety, there are differences between the two that you should learn more about before deciding which career to pursue.

Law Enforcement vs Corrections - fact

How Can You Get Started in Law Enforcement?

Obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement degree will give you access to a multitude of professional options in law enforcement. Choose a good quality program that covers courses such as:

A degree in Law Enforcement equips you with a range of careers in criminal justice, emergency management, and public safety. Courses on criminal justice theories and practices are part of this degree program, along with real-world applications for fieldwork. 

You may determine whether this degree is perfect for you if you’re interested in working in criminal justice or becoming a police officer by knowing more about this educational route.

Essential Skills of a Law Enforcer

Jobs for Law Enforcement Degree Holders

If you are a Law Enforcement major, you qualify for these occupations:

Law Enforcement Degree JobAnnual median pay
Forensic Science Technician$63,740
Security Manager$56,000
Victim Advocate$38,520

Opportunities for Advancement in Law Enforcement

A Master’s in Law Enforcement is what you need if you want to advance to higher positions. In this advanced degree, you will study the procedures, rules, laws, and regulations that are relevant to investigations.

The graduate program’s coursework includes management of investigations, evidence-based practice, risk and vulnerability assessment, public protection, cybercrime, and ethical issues in proactive investigation—all aimed at enhancing a professional’s area of expertise.

To Be or Not to Be

Why Law Enforcement could be for you:

Law Enforcement isn’t for you if:

How Can You Get Started in Corrections?

As you work to become a correctional officer, you’ll oversee prisoners and ensure everyone’s safety day in and day out. Professionals are adept in the operational and administrative processes of correctional institutions.

How Can You Get Started in Law Enforcement - Image

A Bachelor’s in Corrections degree gets you a foot in the door. A Corrections undergraduate program explores criminal law in general, emphasizing criminal punishment, correctional systems, and inmate rights. It also covers courses involving law enforcement principles.

Notably, Corrections degrees and careers aim to dramatically reduce the inmate population through punishment, treatment, and rehabilitation of offenders.

Another option is to pursue a criminal justice degree with a corrections concentration or as a minor. In fact, corrections are a discipline in the criminal justice system. Juvenile and adult prisons are the two primary correctional tracks.

Essential Skills of a Corrections Officer

As a corrections officer, you need to demonstrate these skills, which you can develop as part of your academic education:

Jobs for Corrections Degree Holders

A degree in Corrections leads to these occupations:

Corrections Degree JobAnnual median pay
Probation Officer$59,860
Parole Officer$49,610

Opportunities for Advancement in Corrections

A Master’s in Corrections program is rare, but for a more in-depth dive into the discipline, students often earn a Master’s in Criminal Justice with a Corrections Management focus. With a master’s degree in their belt, Corrections professionals qualify for higher administrative positions.

The same goes for doctorate programs in Corrections. They are quite uncommon, but students can pursue a Criminal Justice track at the doctoral level to climb up the career ladder or pursue research-focused or teaching jobs.

Although the curricula of individual Corrections graduate degrees vary, all programs emphasize policy and leadership. Correctional management, crime prevention and control tactics, correctional law, and facility administration are included in the coursework.

To Be or Not to Be

Why Corrections could be for you:

Corrections may not be for you if:

How Can You Get Started in Corrections - Image

Key Takeaway

Correctional and Law Enforcement officers are highly valued professionals. These two different degree programs and career types vary in the methodologies, strategies, focus, and scope of work. However, in protecting the innocent and keeping the community safe, they do the same important work that requires a sharp mind, dedication, and a passion for upholding fairness and justice.

Additional Information: