Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in Indiana

Although cities like Zionsville and Decatur are considered very safe, Indiana is known for having some notoriously high crime areas. In 2011, the Indianapolis area had a violent crime rate that was 2.77 times higher than the national average.

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Violent crime in the state is meeting overwhelming opposition from the police officers that combat crime and the detectives and forensic professionals responsible for criminal investigations, as well as the paralegals that support prosecutors and the correctional officers that enforce jail sentences. From law enforcement to corrections, Indiana’s criminal justice system is made up of professionals dedicated to combating crime in the state:

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  • More than 20,500 law enforcement officers work throughout Indiana to protect its citizens
  • More than 1,000 detectives work for Indiana public safety agencies
  • The number of forensic science technician jobs is expected to increase by 1.8% each year through 2020
  • The number of correctional officers in Indiana is expected to grow to more than 8,100 between 2010 and 2020
  • The number of paralegal jobs in Indiana is expected to increase by 1.92% each year through 2020

In all areas of criminal justice, a specialized degree provides job candidates with the credentials employers are looking for, as well as the knowledge necessary to effectively serve the citizens of Indiana.

Criminal Investigation and Law Enforcement Jobs in Indiana

From local law enforcement to the Indiana State Police, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development expects an 8.4% increase in the number of law enforcement officers in the state between 2010 and 2020.

State troopers, police officers, and detectives are the most visible of the local law enforcement professionals that help keep the residents of Indiana safe.

Police Officer Job Requirements in Indiana

Local police departments in Indiana that may be hiring include but are not limited to the following:

  • Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department – Indianapolis
  • Evansville Police Department – Evansville
  • Fort Wayne Police Department – Fort Wayne
  • Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office – Noblesville
  • Lowell Police Department – Lowell

While the minimum requirements to become a police officer in Indiana can vary slightly between departments, these qualifications are standard throughout the state:

  • Be a resident U.S. citizen
  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Have a high school education (diploma or GED)
  • Not have any felony convictions
  • Not have a military dishonorable discharge
  • Pass a mandatory drug screening test
  • Pass a written test, physical fitness evaluation, and background check

Given the competitive nature of police officer application processes, having a criminal justice degree in an area such as law enforcement, criminal investigations or police science can help applicants stand out.

Becoming an Indiana State Highway Patrol Officer

More than 1,300 law enforcement personnel work for the Indiana State Police, and these troopers are considered among the best in the country. Indiana’s state troopers can even go on to specialize as scuba divers, helicopter pilots, or explosives experts.

The Indiana State Police General Headquarters is located in Indianapolis. It has reduced the number of its districts, because advances in technology have reduced or eliminated the need for troopers to come to an office to turn in their paperwork. Currently there are 14 state police districts in Indiana:

  • Bloomington
  • Bremen
  • Evansville
  • Fort Wayne
  • Jasper
  • Lafayette
  • Lowell
  • Pendleton
  • Peru
  • Putnamville
  • Sellersburg
  • Toll Road
  • Versailles

Candidates must meet a number of requirements to apply to become an Indiana state trooper. These include being at least 21 years old, but not older than 40 when appointed, being a U.S. citizen, having a valid driver’s license, having vision correctable to 20/50, and being willing to live and serve anywhere in Indiana.

While the minimum educational requirement to become an Indiana state trooper is a high school education, having a bachelor’s degree in public safety or law enforcement helps candidates in their application process.

How to Become a Detective in Indiana

The number of detectives in Indiana is expected to increase by 6.1% between 2010 and 2020.

Detectives with the Indiana State Police Criminal Investigation Division work at each of its 14 divisions, in addition to aiding federal task forces. Five regional offices specialize in Criminal Operations:

  • Evansville
  • Fort Wayne
  • Indianapolis
  • Lowell
  • Sellersburg

Other key public safety agencies in Indiana employ detectives:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation – Indianapolis
  • Local Criminal Investigation Divisions
    • Indianapolis Metropolitan Police
    • Noblesville Police Department
    • Muncie Police Department

Detectives are generally promoted from the ranks of police officers if they show an aptitude for investigative work. Two years of experience on the force is generally the minimum time required before police officers can be promoted to detective.

Candidates for federal investigator positions with agencies such as the FBI, which has field offices in Indiana, go through a specific application process with strict requirements. They must be between 21 and 37 years old, have at least a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a similar field, and have investigative experience.

Becoming a Forensic Scientist or Crime Scene Investigator in Indiana

As forensic technology becomes more sophisticated and effective at helping to solve crimes, the need for forensic scientists continues to grow.

Forensic scientists often specialize in analyzing certain types of crime scene evidence such as DNA, drugs, firearms, latent prints, or questioned documents. In addition, some forensic scientists work as crime scene investigators and secure physical evidence at crime scenes.

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The Laboratory Division of the Indiana State Police provides a high level of forensic assistance to Indiana’s many local police agencies at the municipal and county levels. About 88% of all forensic analysis the Laboratory Division performs is for such agencies. The Indiana State Police Laboratory Division has forensic labs in four cities:

  • Evansville
  • Fort Wayne
  • Indianapolis
  • Lowell

These labs also provide field service to other agencies to help them with crime scene investigations. About 55% of the crime scene and field support activities the Laboratory Division conducts involves assisting other agencies.

In addition, larger local agencies have their own forensic laboratories. One prominent example is the Indianapolis-Marion County Forensic Services Agency. Its forensic scientists assist public safety agencies in the Indianapolis/Marion County area. In 2010, it completed more than 13,000 cases for these agencies.

Indiana Forensic Science Job Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in forensic science is the minimum requirement to become a forensic scientist with the Indiana State Police. It requires specific coursework depending on the type of forensic position. For instance, a DNA analyst must have two of these three courses: genetics, molecular biology, or biochemistry.

Applicants must also be able to distinguish colors, travel by aircraft, and be able to spend extended periods in training at alternate locations.

Indiana offers several forensics degree programs, including one that specializes in the burgeoning field of forensic entomology. In addition to obtaining a degree, lab experience can help applicants obtain forensic science positions. Internships are one way to obtain this type of experience. The Indiana State Police offers internships at its Indianapolis Regional Laboratory where interns work closely under a forensic scientist supervisor.

Once applicants have obtained their degrees, they can seek forensic certification to demonstrate their qualifications:

Requirements for Crime Scene Investigation Jobs in Indiana

Crime scene investigators (CSIs) are generally promoted from the ranks of law enforcement officers. For instance, obtaining CSI jobs with the Indiana State Police requires applicants to start out as state troopers. If they excel with investigative work, they can be promoted to Sergeant—the minimum level necessary to be a CSI.

CSIs at municipal agencies are usually detectives who have risen through the ranks and received specific training to investigate crime scenes—collecting and processing evidence and presenting it in court.

Individuals can advance their skills in this field and demonstrate their professionalism by joining CSI professional organizations:

Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigation Organizations in Indiana

Indiana has a number of agencies that offer jobs for forensic scientists and crime scene investigators. Some of these include:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation – Indianapolis
  • Indiana State Police Laboratory Divisions – Evansville, Fort Wayne, Lowell, Indianapolis
  • Muncie Police Department – Criminal Investigations Division
  • Noblesville Police Department – Criminal Investigation Division

Correctional Officer Jobs in Indiana’s Local Jails, State Prisons, and Federal Penitentiaries

According to the Indian Department of Workforce Development, approximately 267 new correctional officer jobs are expected to be created in the state by 2020.

Correctional Officer Jobs with the Indiana Department of Corrections

Correctional officers are highly trained men and women who protect the safety of inmates, other officers, and the general public. Most of Indiana’s correctional officers work for the Indiana Department of Corrections. These officers oversaw 29,377 adult inmates in 2013. More than half of these inmates were concentrated in Indiana’s six largest prisons:

  • Westville
  • New Castle
  • Miami
  • Putnamville
  • Indiana State Prison – Michigan City
  • Wabash Valley

The minimum requirements to become a correctional officer with the Indiana Department of Corrections include being at least 18 years old, having a valid driver’s license that is comparable to an Indiana license, and having at least a high school education. Applicants with college degrees, military experience, or relevant work experience are more likely to get hired. Common fields of study include criminal justice with a concentration in corrections, sociology, and psychology.

Requirements for Correctional Officer Jobs with the Federal Bureau of Prisons In Indiana

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has one facility in Indiana: the Federal Correctional Facility in Terra Haute. It has 1,175 prisoners in its medium security facility. An additional 366 people are located in its minimum security satellite camp.

Applicants for federal correctional officer jobs must be between 21 and 36 years old, U.S. citizens, have at least three years of experience, and have a bachelor’s degree. Applicants with at least nine credit hours of graduate work in criminology or a related field may be hired at a higher pay grade.

Legal Support Professionals and Paralegals in Indiana

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development estimates that a total of 728 new paralegal jobs will be created in Indiana over the course of their ten-year analysis (2010-2020).

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Aspiring paralegals get the best education from ABA approved programs. Indiana has three such programs in these cities:

  • Muncie
  • Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods
  • Vincennes

All of these schools offer associates degrees, while two have paralegal bachelor’s programs, and one program offers certifications. Candidates can obtain their education through paralegal studies and legal assistance studies programs.

Paralegals in Indiana have the opportunity to belong to the Indiana Paralegal Association, Inc. This organization helps Indiana’s paralegals gain certification to show they are highly qualified. Entry-level and early career paralegals are encouraged to take the Paralegal Core Competency Exam. The requirements include either a bachelor’s degree, or work experience for varying lengths of time depending on the candidate’s educational level.

Indiana’s Major Law Firms

Indiana has numerous law firms that provide jobs for paralegals. Some of the best law firms in Indiana according to U.S. News & World Report include, but are not limited to:

  • Scaopulos, Johnson & Sacopulos
  • Schad & Schad, P.C.
  • Severns Associates, P.C.
  • Spalding & Hilmes, PC
  • Stephen B. Calpin, P.C.

Degrees by State