Education and experience are two things that employers look at on a job application. The former also is a key component in advancing your career, which comes with more money, higher rank, more responsibilities, and/or a moving up the corporate ladder. Your education does not stop once you have a degree. There are means to increase your value as an employee, in areas specific to your interests and career direction.

We will look at some of the ways to make you a greater asset to your employer by increasing your skills and knowledge. If you already work in criminal justice and want to specialize in a certain area, a specialized certificate is a cost-effective and time-saving way to establish your credentials. Online college certificates and certifications are available to people with a high school diploma to a master’s degree. Some professional certifications require specified years of experience, however.

Here are certificates for consideration:

Financial Crime Investigation

The Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists offers certification. The Certified Financial Crime Specialist (CFCS) credential is the only certification to respond to this need for professionals with diverse skills and broad-based knowledge across the financial crime spectrum. Certification candidates become eligible to take the CFCS certification exam after they register with ACFCS. They must also submit certain required documentation and have 90 days to submit the supporting documentation after completing and passing the CFCS examination. Eligibility requirements can be found at the ACFCS website.

Advanced Studies in Computer Forensics

Some of these online certificates require a bachelor’s degree. This involves the study of incidents that cover an array of illegal activities, including cybercrime and fraud, child pornography, cyber-attack, insider threat, terrorism, and espionage. You examine techniques and tools used by computer forensics investigations such as acquisition, preservation, recovery, and analysis of evidence obtained from portable and stationary computer storage devices, and cell phones. You will learn about the role that malware plays in investigating computer and network-related investigations.

Depending on the program, you may be eligible to apply for your Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator Certification (CHFI). Before applying for the CHFI, you need two years experience in Information Security.

Paralegal Certificate

Generally, this certificate is open to graduates with an associate or bachelor degree. Criminal justice is one of the degree paths in the paralegal profession. Various educational institutions offer paralegal certificate programs ranging from 18-60 semester units. Longer programs usually include both general education and paralegal courses, similar to associate degree programs. The coursework in this certificate builds on the knowledge attained during your degree. Major courses cover civil litigation, ethics, legal research, legal writing, tort law, and family law.

In addition to or instead of a college certificate program, a professional certification enhances your credentials. The National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA)  is the leading paralegal association in the U.S. Its mission is to provide continuing education and professional development programs to all paralegals.

Certified Law Enforcement Analyst (CLEA)

The International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) offers the CLEA to IACA members. It is based on a point system that acknowledges work experience, demonstrable knowledge, skills and abilities, academic work, on-the-job training, and contributions to advancing the profession. The applicant must have at least three years of full-time experience as an analyst in the field of law enforcement, intelligence, corrections, or related fields.

Certified Criminal Justice Addiction Professional

Drug offenders account for more than one-third of the growth in state prison population since 1985. Addiction counseling with individuals in the criminal justice system is complex and complicated, and it requires specialized training. Adopted in 2002, the Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP) is one of the fastest growing credentials in the field of addiction-related behavioral health care. There are now 27 U.S. states and territories that offer a reciprocal CCJP credential.

Eligibility differs by state as most states have their own certification programs. Many of these certifications can be earned at colleges. For example, Sober College School of Addiction Studies (SCSAS) is an Approved Education Provider in Missouri through the Missouri Substance Abuse Counselors Certification Board, Inc. (MSACCB). SCSAS offers an online counselor training program for those who want to be certified. They require a Master degree plus 2,000 hours of applicable work experience in the IC&RC Domains (International Credentialing). Those with a Bachelor’s degree require 4,000 hours of applicable work.

Crime and Intelligence Analysis Certificate

The Crime and Intelligence Analysis Certificate provides specialized training in how to identify and define crime trends, problems, and patterns, and to use your research and analysis to create tactics and strategies that lead to an effective police response. Offered at select state universities, upon completion you will be a Certified Crime and Intelligence Analyst. These are open to all law enforcement employees. The Certificate consists of eight required courses totaling 188 hours of lecture and discussion.


Certifications and college-offered certificates allow working professionals to augment their current expertise and/or learn new skills. Private employers often have programs that reimburse your tuition completely or in part. Government agencies may also contribute cash either as a grant or as part of a work/study program. Despite who is paying the tuition, just think of how impressive your certificate or certification will look in your work space.