Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in Massachusetts

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) “Crime in the United States” report of 2012, the city of Boston held Massachusetts’ record for the most violent crimes, with 5266 such crimes committed in the city that year. This was followed by other populated cities in the commonwealth, such as Worcester (1758 violent crimes in 2012), Springfield (1606) and Brockton (1088). It is not surprising that the cities and towns housing the most Massachusetts residents would have the highest violent crime rates.

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These statistics point to a need for well-trained individuals with criminal justice degrees to fill law enforcement and criminal justice jobs within these areas of the commonwealth. Detectives, police officers, correctional officers, forensic scientists and even legal assistants are all necessary to keep the Commonwealth’s criminal justice system operating smoothly and effectively.

Criminal Investigator and Law Enforcement Jobs in Massachusetts

Detectives and law enforcement officers in Massachusetts work together cooperatively. Law enforcement officers in Massachusetts, such as deputy sheriffs or police officers, secure the crime scene, while detectives or criminal investigators investigate the crime.

Becoming a Police Officer or Deputy Sheriff in Massachusetts

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that as of May 2013, there were 16,480 police and sheriff’s officers working across Massachusetts. The best place to start in a quest for a law enforcement career in Massachusetts is often at the police officer level.

Requirements to become a police officer in Massachusetts are usually minimal, and include possession of a high school diploma or GED, being at least 21 years old and a U.S. citizen, having a Massachusetts driver’s license, and having no felony convictions on record. All police officer candidates in Massachusetts are expected to pass a civil service test before an employment offer will be considered.

Examples of job settings for police officers in Massachusetts are numerous, and include:

  • Lowell Police Department
  • City of Cambridge Police Department
  • Boston Municipal Police Department
  • Gloucester Police Department

Deputy Sheriffs in Massachusetts hold civil responsibilities, such as transporting prisoners. Again, these jobs are a good starting point for a career in law enforcement in Massachusetts, as the requirements are similar to those of police officers, but may vary from one jurisdiction to the next.

Sites in which deputy sheriffs in Massachusetts work include:

  • Barnstable County Deputy Sheriff’s Office Civil Process Division – Barnstable
  • Dukes County Office of the Sheriff Civil Process Division – Edgartown
  • Essex County Sheriff’s Department Division of Civil Process – Salem and Lawrence
  • Hampshire County Office of the Sheriff Civil Process Division – Northampton

Becoming a Detective or Criminal Investigator in Massachusetts

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2013 there were 2030 detectives and criminal investigators working in Massachusetts. Detectives work at the federal, county, state and city levels across Massachusetts. Their primary function is to investigate crimes. Requirements for detective jobs in Massachusetts vary according to the level of the position.

At the state level, criminal investigators must first become state troopers (see requirements in the next section). After gaining some experience, state troopers may move up the career ladder to detectives working for the Massachusetts State Police Detective Units, investigating crimes including (but not limited to) homicides, computer crimes, narcotics and sexual assault.

County-level detectives often start their careers as deputy sheriffs, meeting the requirements of their department listed above. At the city level, detectives usually start as police officers, meeting age requirements (usually 21 and above) and passing the Police Officer Civil Service Exam.

Agencies within Massachusetts that employ detectives include:

  • Boston Police Department Bureau of Investigative Services
  • Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department Investigative Division
  • Springfield Detective Bureau
  • Berkshire State Police Detective Unit

Becoming a Massachusetts State Trooper

Requirements that applicants for Massachusetts State Trooper jobs must fulfill include being between the ages of 21 and 35, being a U.S. citizen and resident of Massachusetts, having a high school diploma or GED and a valid state driver’s license, and passing background, physical, medical and psychological examinations. Much training is necessary for state trooper trainees. Presently, there are approximately 2300 state troopers working in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts State Trooper jobs are based out of barracks across the state, including:

  • Framingham (General Headquarters)
  • Boston
  • Logan Airport (East Boston)
  • Southeast region (Middleboro)
  • Central region (Holden)
  • Western region (Northampton)
  • Northeast region (Danvers)
  • Turnpike (Boston, Route 90)

Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation Jobs in Massachusetts

Crime scene investigators and forensics professionals in Massachusetts are responsible for gathering, collecting and analyzing evidence from crime scenes across the state. They may work at the federal, state, county or city levels.

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Examples of employers of CSIs and forensic scientists across the state of Massachusetts include:

  • Massachusetts Attorney General’s Digital Evidence Lab – Boston
  • Massachusetts State Police Forensic Services Group- located within 11 cities statewide
  • Boston Police Crime Laboratory – Boston
  • Forensics Toxicology Laboratory at University of Massachusetts Medical Center – Worcester

Qualifications for Forensics Jobs in Massachusetts

Forensic science jobs in Massachusetts require some type of degree. Examples of degrees in this area include Associate of Science in Forensic Science, Associate of Science in Biotechnology, Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, and Master of Science in Forensic Anthropology.

While Massachusetts does not mandate professional certification for forensic scientists, certification by organizations such as the American College of Forensic Examiners institute is often recommended as an edge over other employment applicants.

Qualifications for CSI Jobs in Massachusetts

Crime scene investigators in Massachusetts also need specialized education and training, depending upon a job’s specialty. Common degrees for CSI jobs include Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Bachelor of Science in Forensic Science, and Associate Degree in Criminal Justice.

Again, certification is not a requirement for all CSI jobs in Massachusetts, but may make a candidate stand out among the rest. The American College of Forensic Examiners Institute provides such certifications, as does the New England Division of the International Association for Identification.

Correctional Officer Jobs in Massachusetts

Another area of criminal justice in Massachusetts in which criminal justice degrees and training are most helpful is the correctional area. Correctional officers work at the federal and state levels within the Commonwealth. The BLS notes that as of May 2013, there were 6190 correctional officers/jailers working in Massachusetts.

Working as a Correctional Officer for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Massachusetts

Federal Bureau of Prisons- Federal correctional officers in Massachusetts must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, and some graduate course work in criminal justice or a related field is necessary for higher-grade correctional officer positions. Three years of appropriate work experience may be substituted for education. Additionally, candidates for federal correctional officer jobs in Massachusetts must be U.S. citizens who are between the ages of 21 and 36 ½ when they apply.

There is just one federal prison in Massachusetts – the Federal Medical Center (FMC) in Danvers.

State Department of Corrections- The Massachusetts Department of Corrections requires all prospective officers to have two years of relevant experience or a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. They must also have a valid Massachusetts Class D drivers’ license. Those with bilingual abilities (Spanish and English) are given preference over monolingual candidates.

The Massachusetts Department of Corrections operates 18 facilities statewide, including:

  • Massachusetts Correctional Institute (MCI) – Concord
  • MCI Framingham
  • MCI Norfolk
  • MCI Shirley
  • MCI South Walpole
  • Bay State Correctional Center – Norfolk
  • South Middlesex Correctional Center – Framingham

Paralegals and Legal Support Jobs in Massachusetts

In May 2013, 6690 paralegals and legal assistants were employed in Massachusetts, according to the BLS. Legal assistants, paralegals, and other legal support jobs in Massachusetts are not regulated by law. Training and/or experience are, however, highly recommended for those wishing to enter into the legal support field.

Prospective paralegals in Massachusetts are encouraged to earn at least a certificate in paralegal studies. Associate and bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies, criminal justice and applied legal studies are also most helpful when searching for a legal assisting position.

Professional certification is not a requirement for paralegals and/or legal assistants in Massachusetts. National certification organizations do offer credentials that include Certified Paralegal (CP) by the National Association of Legal Assistants, and Registered Paralegal (RP) through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. These credentials may help candidates advance faster in the paralegal field than non-credentialed candidates.

Major Law Firms in Massachusetts Employing Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Many law firms and legal organizations across the commonwealth of Massachusetts employ paralegals and/or legal assistants, including:

  • Innello & Company, P.C. – Braintree
  • Nigro, Pettepit & Lucas – Newburyport
  • Chapin Intellectual Property Law, LLC – Southborough
  • Stewart Title Guaranty Company – Waltham

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Careers in Massachusetts

Homeland security and emergency management jobs in Massachusetts are important to keep the state’s borders secure, and to help fellow Massachusetts residents in times of disaster.

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A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, emergency management, homeland security or a related field is usually the norm for such jobs.

Examples of employers of homeland security and emergency management jobs in Massachusetts include:

  • Massachusetts Department of Public Safety Commonwealth Fusion Center – Maynard
  • Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency – Framingham and Bridgewater
  • City of Worcester Emergency Management Division – Worcester
  • City of New Bedford Emergency Management Division – New Bedford