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According to the US Census Bureau, if you are a high school graduate you are likely to earn an average of $1.2 million over your entire working life, if you hold an associate?s degree this figure will go up to $1.6 million, if you are a bachelor?s degree holder your likely life-long earnings will be on average $ 2.1 million while if you are a master?s degree holder or a PhD your life long earnings will be more than $ 3 million. In short, there is little doubt at all that the more qualified you are, the more you are likely to earn over your entire working life.
Compare this to the cost of earning a degree ? associates, bachelor?s or master?s. Even if you go to some of the high-cost for-profit private colleges to earn an online degree, you are unlikely to spend more than $ 30,000 to get your degree. To get an associate degree you will be spending a lot less, say around $ 10,000-15,000. For a bachelor?s you are likely to spend at most $ 20,000?25,000 while for a master?s you will again have to spend another $ 15,000 or so. Hence, to go up to earning a master?s you are unlikely to spend more than $ 35,000-40,000 at the most.
Leaving aside other considerations and to simply illustrate the point through some simplifications, we can say that the average return on investment on spending for an associate?s degree is roughly 1.6 million/15000 X 100 = 10,666 %. Of course, we have not considered the time value of money, but even if you do so, and calculating very roughly ? the return on investment in education comes to about 10,666/30 = 350% annually, assuming that you have a working life of 30 years. The figure goes up for bachelor degree holders and even higher for master or PhD degree holders. In comparison, if you get an annual return of around 20% on any investment in the financial markets you can consider yourself lucky!
Although maths savvy readers are going to poke a number of holes in all this arithmetic, the point remains that the returns on investment in education are any day a lot higher than what you can earn by investing similar amounts in the financial markets or through real estate or through any other real-life genuine and legally-valid investment instruments. This holds for all education, not just education in criminal justice.
Coming now to criminal justice specifically, one can always point out that all these figures of returns on investment make sense only if you are going to get a job after getting a criminal justice degree. So, the real question is: will you get one? Again going by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment projections for the period 2002 to 2012 show that there will be a 24.7% increase in employment in criminal justice careers. This is the fifth highest growth after careers in technology, health care, nursing and human services.
So if we are going by figures like hard- nosed businessmen and deciding on whether it is worth investing in a degree in criminal justice, the facts seem to clearly indicate that it will certainly be a smart decision to invest on a criminal justice degree.
But leaving aside these figures ? just look at your situation now. If you are already employed in a criminal justice related occupation, a degree in criminal justice will immediately get you career gains through pay hikes and promotions. If you are already employed in some other profession, a degree in criminal justice will enable you to get a job in the criminal justice field and even the lowest paying job in this field will let you earn in one year at least twice as much as what you would spend to get that degree.
Thus, any which way you look at it, spending money to get a criminal justice degree will certainly be a smart financial decision. And, if you are already in a criminal justice career that involves a fair amount of risk to your life and limb, you can be pretty sure that a criminal justice degree will not only help you to earn more money but will also empower you to rise above the foot soldier level and get you into a safer job. In any case, once you empower yourself with a criminal justice degree, the very same colleagues who had sneered at your decision and had themselves decided to not follow you and do nothing, will be forced to admit you were smarter. No doubt only smart guys go for college degrees!

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