Harper College

Law Enforcement FAQs

Get answers to your questions about the Law Enforcement & Justice Administration program at Harper College. Learn about law enforcement careers and how you can get started.

A Bachelor’s degree in law enforcement is most beneficial for those who aspire to either work for a Federal Agency like the FBI, or who eventually desire a supervisory role within a police department. A 2019 survey of 85 suburban police departments revealed that 13% of police departments require a bachelor’s degree, while 40% of police agencies required an Associate Degree. Due to a need for police officer candidates, some law enforcement agencies have either lowered their educational requirement or are considering this move.

The national median salary for Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers is $65,541, compared to $83,830 in the area surrounding Chicago. The salary range in most every suburban police department in our area will reach $100,000+ within 6 years.

Yes. This degree would serve as their undergraduate studies. Becoming a lawyer usually takes 7 years of full-time study after high school—4 years of undergraduate study (Including a Criminal Justice Degree), followed by 3 years of law school. Most states and jurisdictions require lawyers to complete a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from a law school accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Although you do not need a criminal justice degree to become a police officer, it is recommended to show commitment to the law enforcement profession and a great way to prepare for the police academy, department field training, and career.

A law enforcement degree will prepare you for a number of different types of jobs;

Local Police Officer – operates locally in a city/ town (e.g. Palatine, Schaumburg Police, etc.).

Deputy Sheriff – like a police officer but serves at county level (e.g. Cook, Lake County Sheriff’s Office).

State Trooper – also called state police officer or highway patrol officer. (e.g. Illinois State Police)

Border Patrol Agent – patrols borders and deals with illegal immigration (e.g. CBP, ICE, etc…)

Special jurisdiction Police Officer – Public college/university police forces, (e.g. Harper College Police)

Fish and Game Warden – Patrol of hunting and fishing areas (e.g. IL Department of Natural Resources)

Federal – Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), US Secret Service, US Postal Inspection Services (USPIS), etc.

Support Positions – Community Service Officer, Record’s Clerk, Crime Analyst, Crime Lab Technicians, Investigative Specialist, Surveillance Specialist, etc.

Forty-six percent (46%) of area police departments surveyed, require a high school diploma only. However, it is recommended to obtain a college degree to help prepare and develop the important traits and skills police departments are looking for in their police officer candidates (2019 Survey):

most important traits survey from police departments looking for candidates

Twenty-two law enforcement courses are offered and taught by passionate instructors with over 500 years of practical experience combined. These instructors will not only teach the course material on topics like Criminal Justice, Criminal Law, Forensics, Leadership/Ethics, etc., but these subject matter experts will also bring their professional experience into the classroom. In addition, you will learn how to develop the program core values of Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Courage, and Excellence. 

The Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJ) program prepares individuals to apply the theories and practices learned in the classroom to the public law enforcement or government agencies they end up serving in. The program also provides clarity for individuals on the overall process of the legal system of government and how each stage of the criminal justice system is to work together.

The LEJ-AAS degree plan includes the best courses to take in order to prepare an individual for becoming a police officer. From an overall view of the Criminal Justice system to the Investigative Process, individuals will receive a well rounded education to get them ready for their first day at the police academy.

Contact Us with any additional questions you may have.


Last Updated: 4/8/24