Your guide to criminal justice certifications: the best certificates of 2024

    Jeremy Coppock
    Jeremy Coppock

    Jeremy Coppock

    Jeremy is an education researcher, journalist, and editor for Degreechoices. He majored in Slavic languages and has a master’s degree in Eastern European studies.

    He has previous experience as a fraud analyst, in-house translator, teacher, and truck driver.

    Updated Jan. 10, 2024
    Your guide to criminal justice certifications: the best certificates of 2024

      Criminal justice certifications can provide an affordable alternative to a 4-year degree.

      Many criminal justice jobs don’t require a bachelor’s.

      We have compiled a list of the best-value criminal justice certifications, which offer the optimal combination of low prices and high future earnings.

      We also list some popular criminal justice licenses that may be pre-requisites for certain positions. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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      Want a career in law enforcement? You might not need a 4-year degree: a criminal justice certificate is enough for many jobs.

      Criminal justice certificates can help you land an entry-level position in law enforcement, and they can be useful additions to an associate, bachelor’s, or even a master’s degree in criminal justice, conferring a specific skillset that could boost your earning potential.

      Other certificates are more tailored to professionals who want to qualify for niche roles.

      Certifications are available in many branches of criminal justice, but it can be difficult to tell which ones are worth it. To help you separate the wheat from the chaff, we have compiled a list of the highest value online criminal justice certificates, as well as some popular certifications for criminal justice professionals.

      Types of criminal justice certificate

      The term “criminal justice certificate” can cover many different types of programs. These could include short, generalist courses that take the place of a bachelor’s or associate degree and help you get a job in law enforcement or corrections.

      Alternatively, the term may refer to exam-based license certification for law enforcement professionals, forensic scientists, or cybersecurity experts interested in professional development.

      Some certificates are offered at colleges and universities, while others are conferred by professional organizations.

      Criminal justice certificates are available in the following fields:

      • Forensic science
      • Homeland security
      • Criminology
      • Cybersecurity
      • Corrections
      • Law enforcement
      • Juvenile justice
      • Emergency response

      Popular online programs

      The best criminal justice certificates online

      Not all schools are created equal: some universities provide better-deal online criminal justice certificates than others. The online criminal justice certificates listed below provide the optimal combination of low program fees and high earnings after completion, ranked according to our signature methodology. Even better, you can complete them from home!

      These certifications are often generalist in nature.

      Institution Program cost Average salary after completion
      1. South Texas College $1,504 $47,262
      2. Florida State College at Jacksonville $3,129 $52,154
      3. Indian River State College $3,786 $54,930
      4. Palm Beach State College $9,481 $69,281
      5. Chipola College $1,428 $34,960
      6. Eastern Florida State College $4,743 $49,391
      7. Colorado Mountain College $6,450 $58,495
      8. Northwest Florida State College $5,905 $46,186
      9. Gulf Coast State College $4,885 $43,485
      10. Miami Dade College $4,870 $43,077

      Popular criminal justice licenses and certification exams

      The criminal justice certifications listed below are more tailored to professionals who want to qualify for specific positions. Unlike the online criminal justice certificates listed above, these certifications may be offered by a professional organization rather than a college or university.

      Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

      The Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) offers the CISM certification for information security managers and IT consultants who manage, design, and assess information security systems. The CISM certification is recognized as one of the most desirable IT credentials, and holders are among the highest paid in their field. Applicants must have 5 years of verified experience in the field of information security and pass a 200-question multiple-choice exam.

      Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

      Professionals working in security operations and risk management may qualify for this information security certification. It is granted by the International Information Security Certification Consortium (ISC). The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is the most globally recognized certification in the information security market.

      The CISSP verifies an information security professional’s in-depth technical and managerial skills and abilities in security operations and risk management to be able to design, engineer, and manage the overall security posture of an organization. Applicants must have 5 years of relevant full-time work experience, provide their criminal history, and pass a multiple-choice exam.

      Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP)

      This credential is the most widely recognized and respected among those who work in addiction counseling. It provides the specialized training required to deal with the mixture of criminal thinking and addiction. There are different levels of experience needed to start CCJP certification depending on the type of criminal justice degree applicants hold. A criminal justice degree can also reduce some of the coursework and internship hours stipulated.

      Global Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA)

      This certification is for professionals working in computer forensics, information security, and incident response. The GCFA confirms that holders have the skills, knowledge, and ability to carry out incident investigations and deal with internal and external data breaches, ongoing cyber threats and conduct complex digital forensics.

      Corrections Certification Professionals (CCP)

      The American Correctional Association (ACA) oversees a range of certifications for corrections professionals based on their role – corrections officers, supervisors, managers, or executives – and whether they work with adults or juveniles. Certification allows the holder to demonstrate their knowledge and awareness of the most up-to-date and effective approaches in the corrections field and to improve their employment prospects.

      Certified Private Investigator

      Education and experience licensing requirements for private investigators vary from state to state. Typically, they include at least a year of related work experience, a passing score on a private investigator examination, a background check, and being at least 21 years old. Some states require an associate degree or higher in criminal justice or a related major.

      Board Certification in Forensic Psychology

      The American Board of Professional Psychology certifies several different fields of psychology. The forensic psychology certification, which is for psychologists working in criminal justice, requires individuals to complete a credential review process and pass a written and oral exam. The board also votes to approve each candidate for membership. Typically, licensed criminal psychologists must hold a doctoral degree and state licensure.

      Peace Officer Standards and Training Certification (POST)

      POST is a certification required for individuals pursuing careers as police officers, sheriff’s deputies, or other law enforcement officers. Specific requirements by state, and the duration of the training program could range from a few months to a year.

      POST certificate training might include both classroom instruction and physical fitness training. The curriculum covers criminal law, constitutional law, community policing, firearms training, defensive tactics, emergency response, ethics, cultural diversity, crisis intervention, and more.

      Forensic Science Certification

      The American Board of Criminalistics offers several forensic science certifications, including Biological Evidence Screening, Drug Analysis, and Forensic DNA. These certificates will allow you to work as a forensic science professional and perform certain tasks covered by the certification’s scope. Note that to be eligible, you must have completed a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, or a similar field.

      Additional resources

      National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA)

      The NCJA provides assistance to federal, state, local, and tribal justice agencies to increase the effectiveness of criminal justice agencies and programs. The organization provides members with updates to legislation, an online member community, access to free webinars and conference and training discounts.

      Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS)

      The ACJS is an international association that fosters professional and scholarly activities in the field of criminal justice. Members may join a variety of sub-sections within the ACJS: including corrections, juvenile justice, and law and public policy. Members receive a monthly newsletter, journals, and discounts on the annual ACJS conference. Experts and mentors are also available to provide advice and evaluations to members.

      Crime and Justice Research Alliance

      CJRA is a centralized resource for research on crime and criminal justice issues. Policymakers, students, and the public can access research on crime and criminal justice issues via their website. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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