Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in Missouri

According to the 2013 Uniform Crime Report published by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, there were 20,204 full-time employees with law enforcement agencies in the state as of 2013:

  • 71.7 percent of the workforce were sworn officers
  • 62.2 percent of these officers worked for municipal police departments
  • 24.3 percent for county sheriff’s offices
  • 11.1 percent for state agencies
  • 2.4 percent worked for college and university police departments

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Law enforcement makes up just one part of Missouri’s criminal justice system, which also relies on criminal investigators, forensic scientists and crime scene investigators, paralegals and correctional officers, among others. In virtually all cases, a degree in one of these specialized fields is key to becoming part of Missouri’s criminal justice system.

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Careers in Law Enforcement and Criminal Investigations in Missouri

Ninety-seven of Missouri’s 114 counties are considered to be rural, but these areas are certainly not unaffected by crime. The Rural Investigative Unit was established in 2009 to investigate and solve crimes related to agriculture. A division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Rural Investigative Unit studies crimes such as agricultural equipment theft and livestock theft. A job with this unique investigative unit is just one of the numerous possibilities available in Missourians criminal justice system.

How to Become a Police Officer or Deputy Sheriff in Missouri

The requirements to become a police officer in Missouri vary from one municipality to the next. Usually, applicants for these jobs must be a U.S. citizen with a high school diploma/GED and meet one of the following qualifications:

  • Completed 60 semester hours of college coursework
  • Completed two years of active military service
  • Completed Class A Missouri Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification course

Prospective police officers in Missouri must also pass drug, medical, physical, psychological and polygraph tests prior to employment.

Becoming a deputy sheriff in Missouri is similar to the requirements for police officers. Most county departments require applicants to be at least 21 years old and a U.S. citizen, with a high school diploma or GED. Completion of training at a training academy will be required of new hires.

The following police departments and county sheriff’s offices in Missouri employ police officers and deputy sheriffs:

  • Grandview Police Department – Grandview
  • Saint Joseph, Missouri Police Department – St. Joseph
  • Boone County Sheriff’s Office – Columbia
  • Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office – Troy

How to Become a Detective in Missouri

City and county-level detectives in Missouri must rise from the ranks of police officers and deputy sheriffs. At the state level, detectives must first become Missouri State Troopers. Before taking on new detective duties, detectives in Missouri must complete criminal investigation training in addition to the basic law enforcement training they already will have received. Detectives within Missouri may work for the following types of agencies:

  • Missouri State Highway Patrol Division of Drug and Crime Control – Jefferson City
  • Missouri State Highway Patrol Rural Crime Investigative Unit – statewide
  • St .Louis County Police Department Division of Criminal Investigation – St. Louis
  • Kansas City Missouri Police Department Investigations Bureau – Kansas City

How to Become a Trooper with the Missouri State Highway Patrol

Requirements that must be met to become a Missouri State Trooper with the Highway Patrol include being a U.S. citizen and Missouri resident, being at least 21 years old, having a high school diploma or GED, and meeting one of the following conditions:

  • Complete 60 semester hours of college coursework
  • Complete two years of active duty military service
  • Complete two years working as a full-time POST certified law enforcement officer

Troops for the Missouri State Highway Patrol are located statewide, in cities such as:

  • Poplar Bluff
  • Weldon Spring
  • Rolla
  • Willow Springs
  • Springfield
  • St. Joseph
  • Macon
  • Lee’s Summit

Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation Jobs in Missouri

Forensic science and CSI professionals work with evidence that has been gathered from crime scenes. Forensic science personnel and CSIs examine this evidence, analyze it, and see how it ties into the various facets of the crime.

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Forensic Science Careers in Missouri

Any job in forensic science in Missouri will require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. This may be within criminal justice, forensic science, biology, chemistry, or another of the sciences.

The American College of Forensic Examiners institute provides optional professional certification to forensic scientists in Missouri.

Crime Scene Investigation Careers in Missouri

Most CSIs in Missouri need at least an associate degree in criminal justice in order to work effectively. Some CSIs must also have law enforcement experience before working in the investigative realm.

The International Association for Identification provides optional professional certification to interested Missouri CSIs in areas such as fingerprint analysis, forensics, blood pattern analysis and crime scene analysis.

Jobs for forensic scientists and CSIs in Missouri may be available at the municipal, county and state levels in agencies such as:

  • Columbia Police Department Forensic Evidence Unit- Columbia
  • Springfield Police Department Investigations and Support Services Bureau – Springfield
  • Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Lab Division- Jefferson City, Cape Girardeau, Willow Springs, Springfield, Park Hills, Carthage, St. Joseph, and Macon

Correctional Officer Careers in Missouri

The Missouri Department of Corrections operates 21 correctional facilities in the state. As of 2010, there were 30,623 inmates in state-run facilities. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is in charge of one facility, a federal medical center, in Missouri.

Working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Missouri

In order to work in a federal correctional facility in Missouri, one must be a U.S. citizen who is less than 37 years of age with at least a bachelor’s degree. Experience is often substituted for education, at the rate of three years of full-time work experience in certain fields being equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.

There is just one federal correctional facility in Missouri: the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners (MCFP) in Springfield.

Working for the Missouri Department of Corrections

New hires at the Missouri Department of Corrections must be U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old with a high school diploma or GED. New correctional officers complete 280 hours of training before working within facilities.

The following facilities are just a few of those run by the Missouri Department of Corrections:

  • Western Missouri Correctional Center – Cameron
  • South Central Correctional Facility – Licking
  • Potosi Correctional Center – Mineral Point
  • Farmington Correctional Facility – Farmington

Paralegals and Legal Support Jobs in Missouri

According to the Missouri Bar Association, as of 2011, there were 4500 paralegals employed in the state of Missouri. Cities that employ the highest number of paralegals include Kansas City and St. Louis.

In Missouri, education is vital to getting a good job as a legal assistant or paralegal. The following types of degrees should help:

  • Certificate in Paralegal Studies
  • Graduate Certificate in Paralegal Studies
  • Associate of Science in Legal Assisting
  • Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Practice
  • Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with emphasis in Legal Studies

National organizations such as the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) and the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) provide optional paralegal certification for qualified applicants. Qualifications usually include experience and passing examinations on legal studies and criminal justice topics. NFPA provides the certifications of Registered Paralegal (RP) and Certified Registered Paralegal (CRP), while NALA offers Certified paralegal (CP) and Advanced Paralegal Certification (APC).

Employers of Paralegals and Legal Assistants in Missouri

Law firms and nonprofit organizations such as the following commonly employ paralegals in Missouri:

  • Mid-Missouri Legal Services Corporation, Columbia
  • The Elder and Disability Advocacy Firm of Christine A. Alsop, St. Louis
  • Leggett & Platt, Inc., Carthage
  • Polsinelli PC, Kansas City
  • Lewis, Rice & Fingersh, LLC, St. Louis
  • Legal Services of Southern Missouri , Springfield

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Careers in Missouri

Homeland security and emergency management jobs coordinate to keep Missouri safe and to ensure well-trained, knowledgeable professionals are there to handle emergency situations when they arise.

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These types of jobs regularly require at least a bachelor’s degree, potentially in criminal justice but also in emergency management, emergency operations, homeland security and defense, security studies and the like.

Agencies at the federal, state and local level employ homeland security and emergency management professionals in Missouri:

  • Missouri Department of Public Safety State Emergency Management Association (SEMA), Jefferson City headquarters with local offices statewide in each county
  • St. Louis Office of Emergency Management , St. Louis
  • Missouri Department of Public Safety Office of Homeland Security, Jefferson City
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Services, Lees Summit

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