Online Peace Officer Certification

You can't earn peace officer certification online. However, you can enroll in an online degree program to acquire the criminal justice, law enforcement and investigatory skills a peace officer uses in the field. Learn more about the requirements for peace officer certification and online programs that can provide you with important law enforcement skills. Schools offering Law Enforcement degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Can I Obtain Peace Officer Certification Online?

Certification for peace officers is not offered online. Peace officer certification is awarded after the completion of state-approved training requirements that cover firearms, due process, emergency response, arrest procedures, accident investigation and first aid. You'll also need to demonstrate minimum physical requirements in terms of vision and physical stamina in order to earn certification.

Although it's not required for initial peace officer certification, you can attend an online degree program to earn your Associate of Science (A.S.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Criminal Justice. Online programs help you build the knowledge base required for professional advancement in law enforcement; however, you may still have to complete a training program approved by your state's Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) Council in order to qualify for peace officer certification.

Online AvailabilityCertification is not offered online, though you could pursue an online degree in a field like criminal justice
Certification RequirementsVary by state, but generally a high school diploma, POST-certified training, and a minimum age of 21 are required
Online Degree BenefitsPursuing a degree in criminal justice will provide an understanding of the field; it will also allow you to seek more advanced certifications in the future
Degree TopicsDeviant behavior, constitutional law, crime prevention, rules of engagement, juvenile justice
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 7% decline for correctional officers and bailiffs
Median Salary (May 2018)* $45,760 for bailiffs; $44,330 for correctional officers and jailers

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Minimum Standards for Certification?

Peace officer standards vary by state; however, you'll need a high school diploma before completing state-mandated certification requirements. You'll meet most of the basic requirements by attending POST-certified training. However, you can't earn certification if you were convicted of a felony or an act of domestic violence. You aren't eligible if you're legally prohibited from driving a car or owning firearms. You'll also have to pass a drug test, a psychological screening and a criminal background check.

In most states, you need to be 21 years old before earning certification. However, some states will certify you if you're at least 18 years old and you've completed an associate's degree or two years of active duty military service. Once you've been certified as a peace officer, you'll need to renew your certification at regular intervals. In some states, renewal is contingent upon current employment as a part-time or full-time peace officer. You'll also have to receive firearms training on a regular basis to maintain your certification.

How Can Earning an Online Degree Help Me?

Online criminal justice programs provide you with an understanding of the professionals you'll work with as a certified peace officer, including detectives, jailers, private security guards and parole officers. You'll also need to earn a degree if you're looking for an advanced, specialized or supervisory position after you earn certification. This is especially true if you're looking to work for a state police force or in a federal law enforcement position.

What Will I Learn in an Online Criminal Justice Program?

Associate of Science in Criminal Justice programs provide a basic overview of corrections, law enforcement, crime scene investigation and the basic tasks of patrol officers. You can also expect to complete coursework in psychology or deviant behavior. Some online programs may offer an internship component that allows you to gain practical experience in criminal justice.

You'll learn advanced aspects of the criminal justice system in bachelor's degree programs. You can expect to receive an education that goes beyond basic peace officer functions by covering constitutional law, crime prevention, rules of evidence, substance abuse and juvenile justice. Other topics include police management and how a police department plays an active role in a community. You may have a senior capstone seminar that allows you to explore an aspect of criminal justice in depth, or you may have to complete a practicum as part of your curriculum requirements.

What is the Job Outlook and Salary?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for correctional officers and bailiffs is projected to decline 7 percent from 2016 to 2026. The number of correctional officers needed is determined by state and local budget constraints and prison population levels. The BLS also reported that as of May 2018, the median annual wage for bailiffs was $45,760, while for correctional officers and jailers, it is $44,330.

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