Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in Nebraska

Nebraska law enforcement agencies reported a four percent decrease in crime in the state between 2012 and 2013. Despite this overall drop in Nebraska’s crime rate, the murder/manslaughter rate increased by eight percent, and aggravated assault increased by three percent, showing the continuing need for qualified professionals at all levels of Nebraska’s criminal justice system to fight, investigate, prosecute and incarcerate criminals.

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Criminal justice professionals in Nebraska span the gamut, working in law enforcement, corrections, the legal system and other areas. Certainly, their work has accounted for some of the decrease in the state’s overall crime rate. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Nebraska Department of Labor:

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  • Nebraska employs 356 detectives and criminal investigators statewide as of May 2013. Projections estimate that there will be 8.15 percent more job opportunities for detectives in Nebraska between 2012 and 2022.
  • Almost 3,500 police and sheriff’s patrol officers currently work in Nebraska. From 2012 to 2022, an increase of 4.38 percent is expected in jobs available to police and sheriff’s officers in the state.
  • Within Nebraska’s prison system, 2,170 correctional officers and jailers are now employed. It is projected that jobs for correctional officers will increase by almost five percent during the decade between 2012 and 2022.
  • The number of paralegals and legal assistants in Nebraska currently totals 1340. Job opportunities for paralegals in Nebraska are expected to increase by over 17 percent from 2012 through 2022.

It is clear from the numbers that the criminal justice field will offer numerous employment opportunities for job seekers in Nebraska that hold a specialized criminal justice degree in one of these key areas.

Law Enforcement and Criminal Investigation Jobs in Nebraska

The foundations of Nebraska’s criminal justice system consist of its law enforcement professionals. Per the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Nebraska houses 448 law enforcement agencies. Police officers typically work for local jurisdictions, while deputy sheriffs and sheriffs are employed by county offices. Detectives, otherwise known as criminal investigators, work at local, state and federal levels, while state troopers work for the state.

Police Officer and Deputy Sheriff Qualifications in Nebraska

Local cities, townships and jurisdictions in Nebraska typically set their own requirements that potential police officers must meet. They must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, and hold a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Most jurisdictions in Nebraska prefer candidates who have some college education related to law enforcement and criminal justice.

Nebraska’s deputy sheriffs must meet the same general requirements. They will accept a high school diploma or GED, but having a bit of college education is always helpful to candidates for any law enforcement position in Nebraska.

Nebraska requires most law enforcement professionals to undergo POST (Peace Officers Standards and Training) training after being hired. It is necessary to complete a basic law enforcement course at the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island.

Jobs for Nebraska’s police officers and deputy sheriffs may be available in law enforcement agencies like:

  • Douglas County Sheriff’s Department – Omaha
  • Grand Island Police Department – Grand Island
  • Omaha Police Department – Omaha
  • Adams County Sheriff’s Office- Hastings

Criminal Investigation Qualifications in Nebraska

Criminal investigators (or detectives) in Nebraska must start out in basic law enforcement positions, such as police officer, deputy sheriff or state trooper. Then, interested law enforcement officers may be able to move up the career ladder to detective when they have gained experience and training. Criminal investigative or law enforcement education is important for those who wish to become detectives in Nebraska.

Although not mandated, having some education in the field can help candidates to land detective jobs more quickly.

Law enforcement agencies that employ detectives in Nebraska include:

  • Nebraska State Patrol Bureau of Criminal Identification Investigative Services Division -Lincoln
  • South Sioux City Police Department Criminal Investigations Section- South Sioux City
  • Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division – Lincoln
  • Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Division – Papillion

Nebraska State Patrol Qualifications

Becoming a trooper with the Nebraska State Patrol can be a challenging yet rewarding career. Requirements for sworn patrol officers are strict and include being 21 years of age or older, a U.S. citizen, holding a high school diploma/GED (college education is a plus), passing vision, physical abilities, mental, and medical examinations, having a clean driving record, and being of good moral character. Additionally, candidates for state trooper jobs are not permitted to have body art that cannot be completely covered by a trooper’s uniform.

Troops in which Nebraska’s sworn highway patrol officers are based out of are located across the state, in:

  • Grand Island
  • Norfolk
  • Lincoln
  • Scottsbluff
  • Omaha
  • North Platte

Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation Jobs in Nebraska

Crime scenes across the state of Nebraska produce much evidence, in the form of fingerprints, DNA, hair, fibers and more. This, in turn, generates the need for crime scene investigators, or CSIs, to gather and analyze the evidence, and forensic scientists to process the evidence.

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The following agencies in Nebraska are potential employers of CSIs and forensic scientists:

  • Nebraska State Bureau of Criminal Identification – Lincoln
  • Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit – Omaha
  • Nebraska State Patrol Crime Laboratory – Lincoln

Forensic Science Qualifications in Nebraska

The nature of forensic science makes it imperative that all prospective forensic scientists in Nebraska hold at least a bachelor’s degree. The field of the degree may be in forensic science or a related scientific field.

While not mandatory in Nebraska, professional certification is recommended for forensic scientists, especially those looking for career advancement. Examples of agencies that certify qualified forensic scientists include the American Board of Forensic Toxicology (ABFT) and the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB).

Crime Scene Investigation Qualifications in Nebraska

A certificate or associate degree is usually mandatory for crime scene investigators in Nebraska. Because of the specialized nature of these jobs, training in techniques for evidence handling and gathering is vital.

Professional certification is not required of CSIs in Nebraska but is recommended. Agencies such as the International Association for Identification offer certification in areas like latent prints, DNA, forensic photo and forensic video.

Correctional Officer Jobs in Nebraska

Another area in which a criminal justice degree can be beneficial is the punitive end of the system. Correctional officers in Nebraska work within the ten correctional facilities statewide operated by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

Correctional officers in Nebraska must be at least 18 years old, have a valid driver’s license, have no felony or domestic violence convictions, and hold a minimum of a high school diploma/GED. A criminal justice education at the college level related to corrections is very helpful and may give candidates an edge over candidates without college education.

Ten facilities are operated by the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and employ correctional officers:

  • Work Ethic Camp – McCook
  • Tecumseh State Correctional Institution – Tecumseh
  • Omaha Correctional Center- Omaha
  • Nebraska State Penitentiary – Lincoln
  • Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility -Omaha
  • Nebraska Correctional Center for Women – York
  • Lincoln Correctional Center – Lincoln
  • Diagnostic & Evaluation Center – Lincoln
  • Community Corrections Center – Omaha
  • Community Corrections Center – Lincoln

Paralegals and Legal Support Jobs in Nebraska

Paralegals in Nebraska assist attorneys in substantive legal work. They may work within law firms, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and other types of companies that employ lawyers.

It is recommended that paralegals in Nebraska graduate from a paralegal studies program that is approved by the American Bar Association (ABA). Degrees in Nebraska from schools that are ABA-approved include:

  • Associate in Applied Science-Paralegal Studies
  • Associate in Applied Science- Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts – Paralegal Studies
  • Post-bachelor’s Paralegal Certificate

The main professional certification organization for paralegals in Nebraska is the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). It offers the credentials Certified Paralegal (CP), which is the general certification; and Advanced Paralegal Certified (APC), which is a legal specialty certification available in areas of the law including, but not limited to:

  • Family law
  • Trademarks
  • Business organizations
  • Bankruptcy
  • Criminal litigation

Examples of employers of paralegals in Nebraska are:

  • Legal Aid of Nebraska Native American Program – Lincoln, Omaha, Santee Sioux Nation, Norfolk
  • Fraser Stryker PC, LLO- Bellevue
  • Kutak Rock, LLP -Omaha

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jobs in Nebraska

At the preventive end of Nebraska’s criminal justice spectrum are jobs in emergency management and homeland security. These jobs help to protect Nebraska’s citizens from threats to security, including criminal acts and counterterrorism, as well as to prepare for and respond to disasters of all types, from man-made to natural. All of these jobs require a minimum of a bachelor degree in a field such as public safety, homeland security, security studies, or emergency management.

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Agencies in Nebraska that may employ emergency management and homeland security professionals include:

  • U.S. Strategic Command – headquartered in Omaha
  • Nebraska Emergency Management Agency – Lincoln
  • Nebraska State Homeland Security – Omaha
  • Buffalo County Department of Emergency Management – Kearney

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