Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in Florida
Although Florida is ranked fourth in the nation according to population, it is home to several of the nation’s top 100 most dangerous cities as of 2013. Among the cities to make the list were:
- Lauderdale Lakes
- Pompano Beach
- Miami Beach
- Fort Pierce
- Daytona Beach
- Fort Myers
- Lake Worth
- Riviera Beach
The solution to violent crime in these cities comes in the form of a multi-faceted criminal justice complex made up of law enforcement officers, criminal investigators, forensic scientists, legal support professionals, correctional officers and many more. It comes as little surprise, then, that the number of jobs within Florida’s criminal justice system is expected to increase through 2022.
According to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the following professions are all expected to see significant gains in employment levels between 2014 and 2022:
- Paralegals/legal assistants: 25,593 in 2014 – 31,592 in 2022
- Physical (forensic) scientists: 10,465 in 2014 – 11,444 in 2022
- Forensic science technicians: 1,488 in 2014 – 1,708 in 2022
- Correctional officers and jailers: 32,800 in 2014 – 33,206 in 2022
- Detectives/criminal investigators: 7,287 in 2014 – 7,568 in 2022
- Police and sheriff patrol officers: 36,822 in 2014 – 40,336 in 2022
- Overall Protective services occupations: 227,000 in 2014 – 248,000 in 2022
In a criminal justice community committed to bringing about real results in the form of crime reduction and increased rates of rehabilitation, a criminal justice degree in one of these specialized areas gives job candidates the knowledge and qualifications necessary to become part of the solution.
Florida Law Enforcement Job Requirements
Law enforcement officers work at the state, county and local levels to protect citizens and combat crime head-on within the communities that fall within their jurisdictions.
Qualifications for Local Law Enforcement Jobs in Florida
The general requirement for local law enforcement officer jobs is a minimum age of 21, a high school diploma or GED, a valid driver’s license, and a clear criminal record.
Although not always a requirement, some law enforcement agencies require candidates to possess some type of post-secondary education, degree or commensurate law enforcement experience. For example, the Tallahassee Police Department requires candidates without prior law enforcement experience to possess an associate’s degree or at least 60 semester hours of college study.
Just a few of the law enforcement agencies at the local level in Florida include:
- City of Orlando Police Department
- Tampa Police Department
- Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office
- Miami-Dade Police Department
- Broward Sheriff’s Office
- Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office
Qualifications for State Law Enforcement Jobs in Florida
In addition to dozens of municipal and county-level law enforcement agencies, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) employs about 1,700 state police officers and operates with an annual budget of more than $300 million.
The mission of the FDLE is to promote public safety and strengthen domestic security by working with local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies. The FDLE has its agency headquarters in Tallahassee and operates 7 regional operational centers in:
- Tampa Bay
- Fort Myers
The law enforcement arm of the FDLE is the Capitol Police, which employs about 66 sworn law enforcement personnel. Capitol police officers may work in specialized units, such as:
- Directed patrol
- Protective operation section
- Special Operations Team
- Honor Guard
Capitol Police Officers may work as:
- Law enforcement officers
- Duty officers
- Security officers
All positions require candidates to be at least 19 years old, to possess a valid driver’s license, and to possess a high school diploma. Duty officers must also possess either one-year of experience or at least 30 semester hours of college education.
The Florida Highway Patrol enforces the State’s criminal, traffic, motor vehicle, and driver’s license laws. Florida State Trooper candidates must be at least 19 years of age, must be a U.S. citizen, must possess a valid driver’s license, must possess a high school diploma or GED.
Those without prior military, law enforcement, or public contact experience must possess at least 30 semester hours of credit from an accredited college or university. Although a specific major is not required for employment, many candidates choose to pursue post-secondary programs in areas such as law enforcement, criminology, and police science, among others.
Florida Detective and Criminal Investigation Jobs
Just a few of the Florida law enforcement agencies that employ criminal investigators include:
- Clearwater Police Department, Criminal Investigation Division
- Tallahassee Police Department, Investigations
- Broward Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigations Division
Qualifications for Local Criminal Investigator Jobs in Florida
Investigations units are often a major component of a large, local police department. For example, criminal investigators/detectives of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office work for the Investigations Division, which consists of the following units/sections:
- Burglary unit
- Crime scene unit
- Economic crimes unit
- Interagency investigations
- Auto theft unit
- Homicide unit
- Cold case
- Missing persons unity
- Robbery unit
- Special assault unit
- Traffic homicide unit
- Violent crimes task force
Criminal investigators work for law enforcement agencies in organized criminal investigations. The majority of law enforcement agencies that employ criminal investigators require candidates to first gain valuable experience as a law enforcement officer before they can qualify for a job in criminal investigations.
It is also common for law enforcement agencies to recognize post-secondary criminal justice degrees in areas such as investigations, criminology, and forensic science as satisfying some of the experience requirements.
Qualifications for State Criminal Investigator Jobs in Florida
At the state level, criminal investigations are carried out by the:
The Investigations and Forensic Science (IFS) Program within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is responsible for conducting both independent and multi-jurisdictional investigations and partnering with local, state, and federal authorities. The IFS program focuses its investigative efforts on the following areas:
- Domestic security
- Major drugs
- Violent crime
- Public integrity
- Fraud/economic crime
The FDLE has also implemented a number of regional investigative teams in recent years, such as the Child Abduction Response Teams (CART).
IFS special agents must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with a major in one of the following:
- Criminology/criminal justice
- Computer science
- Related field
Florida State Troopers who have at least two years of experience are eligible for specialty positions, including criminal investigations with the Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Intelligence (BCII).
The BCII consists of 6 operational components and two investigative Operations Sections. Investigations through the BCII include:
- Organized crime
- Domestic security
- Criminal interdiction
- Traffic homicide
- Auto theft, commercial vehicle and cargo theft
- Identity theft
- Driver’s license fraud
- Title fraud
- Odometer fraud
Qualifications for Federal Criminal Investigator Jobs in Florida
Federal investigators at the federal level in Florida work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which has field offices in:
To become a special agent with the FBI, candidates must first meet the agency’s minimum requirements, which include:
- Must be a U.S. citizen
- Must be at least 23 years old but younger than 37
- Must possess a four-year degree form an accredited college or university
- Must have at least 3 years of professional work experience
- Must qualify under one of the five Special Agent Entry Programs:
- Computer science/information technology
Jobs with the Florida Department of Corrections and the Federal Bureau of Prisons
The Florida Department of Corrections operates the third largest prison system in the U.S. with a budget of $2.1 billion and a staff of 22,000.
Florida’s correctional officers, who are responsible for overseeing the operation of a correctional facility and the custody of the inmates who are held there, may work at the county, state, or federal level.
Qualifications for County-level Correctional Officer Jobs in Florida
At the county level, correctional officers in Florida work for the county jails. The majority of county sheriff’s offices, such as the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, require candidates to be at least 18 years old, to possess a high school diploma or GED, and to possess a valid driver’s license, among others.
Just a few of the county jails in Florida include:
- Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Hernando County Jail
- Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Detention Center
- Broward Sheriff’s Office:
- Main Jail
- Joseph V. Conte Facility
- North Broward Bureau
- Central Intake Bureau
- Paul Rein Detention Facility
Qualifications for State Correctional Officer Jobs in Florida
At the state level, correctional officers in Florida work for the Florida Department of Corrections, which oversees 48 prisons throughout the State, including the:
- Central Florida Reception Center
- Martin Correctional Center
- Madison Correctional Institution
- Dade Correctional Institution
- Florida State Prison
- Jackson Correctional Institution
The Florida Department of Corrections houses over 100,000 inmates and another 115,000 offenders on active community supervision.
About two-thirds of the 22,000 employees who work for the DOC are certified correctional officers or probation officers. Individuals who want to work as correctional officers for the Florida Department of Corrections must be at least 19 years old, they must be a U.S. citizen, they must be a high school graduate (or the equivalent), and they must possess a valid driver’s license, among others.
Qualifications for Federal Correctional Officer Jobs in Florida
Correctional officers in Florida may also work at the federal level for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP), which oversees the following federal correctional institutions:
- Coleman FCC
- Marianna FCI
- Miami FCI
- Miami FDC
- Miami RRM
- Orlando RRM
- Pensacola FPC
- Tallahassee FCI
Similar to many other federal law enforcement jobs, correctional officers with the FBP must be younger than 37, they must be a U.S. citizen, they must have a clear felony and serious misdemeanor record, and they must possess a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university if they do not have previous experience in corrections.
Emergency Management and Homeland Security Jobs in Florida
Professionals in emergency management and homeland security are generally educated and trained in these areas, with many of them possessing bachelor and even master’s degrees in areas such as disaster management, emergency management, homeland security, and public safety.
In Florida, professionals in emergency management and homeland security may find a wealth of opportunities through the following agencies:
- Florida Division of Emergency Management: Includes an all-hazards preparedness program that consists of:
- Natural Hazards Section
- Technological Hazards Section
- Training and Exercise Units
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Domestic Security
Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigation Jobs in Florida
Crime scene investigations (CSI) and criminal forensics allow law enforcement professionals and the courts to arrest and convict criminal offenders. Crime scene investigators work at the scene of the crime, where they collect, preserve, and transport evidence, while forensic scientists/technicians analyze the collected evidence using a variety of laboratory technologies and equipment.
Most professionals in crime scene investigations/forensics possess a bachelor or master’s degree in one of the natural sciences or in a focused forensic science program. Crime scene investigators often work through police or sheriff’s departments, while forensic scientists may work in state or local criminal laboratories.
Just a few of the police/sheriff’s departments that employ crime scene investigators and forensic scientists include:
- City of Miami Police Department, Crime Scene Investigation Unit and Mobile Crime Lab
- Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Crime Scene Investigations Section
- Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Crime Scene Investigations and Forensic Laboratory
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement Crime Laboratory is a statewide criminal analysis laboratory system that provides services to law enforcement agencies throughout the State of Florida. The FDLE crime lab operates 7 internationally accredited laboratories in:
- Tampa Bay
- Ft. Myers
The FDLE provides analysis in 10 forensic disciplines:
- Crime Scene
- Digital Evidence
- DNA Database
- Latent Prints/Impression Evidence
- Questioned Documents
- Trace Evidence
Paralegal and Legal Assistant Jobs in Florida
Although paralegals and legal assistants may not be the first professionals to come to mind when thinking of careers in criminal justice, these legal professionals are, in fact, vital to the efficient operation of a law firm. Paralegals, who may also work for private corporations and non-profit organizations, typically possess a certificate, associate or bachelor degree in a paralegal studies program that is recognized by the American Bar Association.
The work of paralegals includes (among others):
- Organizing documents and coordinating the production of documents
- Conducting factual research and document searches
- Preparing witness materials for case preparation
- Preparing for and attending witness depositions
- Filing court documents
Just a few of the major law firms in Florida where paralegal jobs may be found include:
- Gray Robinson PA, Melbourne
- Gunster, Yoakley, & Stewart, PA, West Palm Beach
- Greenspoon Marder, PA, Port St. Lucie
- Berger Singerman, Miami
- Shutts & Bowen, West Palm Beach
- Morgan & Morgan, Tampa
Degrees by State
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia