Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in New Jersey

According to a report released by the New Jersey State Police, the state’s overall crime rate fell by 4.2 percent between 2011 and 2012, and violent crime decreased by 4.6 percent. However, the homicide rate increased by more than three percent, and incidents of rape increased by six percent during the same period.

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The FBI’s crime statistics from 2013 indicate that the city of Newark had the highest number of violent crimes that year, followed by Jersey City and Paterson. Additionally, Newark had the third highest murder rate in the nation. However, the year before, Camden was ranked as the New Jersey city with the most violent crime, yet fell off the list in 2013, indicating that the criminal justice system might be working more efficiently within that city.

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Indeed, those who work in New Jersey’s criminal justice system strive every day to control the rising violent crime rates in the most affected parts of the state. Those who hold criminal justice degrees will find a wealth of job opportunities in all parts of the state and in all facets of the system, from the enforcement and investigations side to the judicial and correctional side. Criminal justice jobs can also be quite lucrative in the Garden State:

  • The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development estimates that job opportunities for paralegals and legal assistants will jump by 16.1 percent between 2012 and 2022, growing by a projected 1200 jobs.
  • Police officer, detective and correctional officer jobs in New Jersey are all projected to have annual openings, as those currently working in the field retire or change careers (700 annual openings for police and sheriff’s officers, 270 for correctional officers, and 70 for detectives in New Jersey).
  • New Jersey offers some of the highest salaries in the nation for criminal justice jobs:
    • New Jersey is the highest paying state in which police and sheriff’s officers work, paying them an average annual salary of $88,220 (per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, circa May 2013)
    • Correctional officers are paid more in New Jersey than any other state, averaging a salary of $68,910 per year
    • Detectives working in New Jersey earn the third highest salary in the nation, at $100,140 annually
    • Paralegals average a salary of $58,830 per year, making New Jersey the fourth highest paying state in which paralegals can work

Law Enforcement Jobs in New Jersey

There are three levels of law enforcement jobs in New Jersey: state, county and local. According to the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, about half of the law enforcement agencies in New Jersey are governed by the state’s Civil Service Commission/Department of Personnel. The rest are supervised by local ordinances and regulations.

Qualifying to Become One of New Jersey’s Police and Sheriff’s Officers

Every city/town and county in New Jersey sets its own qualifications for police officers and deputy sheriffs. Minimum requirements that must be met everywhere include:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Have a valid New Jersey driver’s license
  • Have a high school diploma/GED (college education in criminal justice is preferred)
  • Pass many examinations, including medical, psychological, physical

Examples of job locations for sheriff’s officers and police officers in New Jersey include:

  • Essex County Sheriff’s Office- Newark
  • Atlantic City Police Department – Atlantic City
  • Jersey City Police Department – Jersey City
  • Mercer County Sheriff’s Office – Trenton

Qualifying to Become One of New Jersey’s Detectives

Detectives also work at the local, county and state levels within New Jersey’s law enforcement agencies. They must usually work their way up through the ranks of their law enforcement agency, starting as a police officer, deputy sheriff or state trooper and meeting those requirements. In addition to age, citizenship, and driver’s license, most detectives are expected to have some college credits in criminal justice. If not expected for the job, it is helpful to have completed such college coursework when vying for a detective job in New Jersey.

New Jersey law enforcement agencies such as these employ detectives:

  • New Jersey State Police – Special Investigations Section – statewide
  • New Jersey State Commission of Investigation – Trenton
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation – Newark Field Office
  • Paterson Police Department Criminal Investigation Division – Paterson

Qualifying to Become a State Trooper in New Jersey

The New Jersey State Police employs State Troopers through their Highway Patrol. To qualify for this job, one must:

  • Be between the ages of 21 and 35
  • Possess a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field (or 90 credits with an anticipated graduation date)
  • Pass a background check
  • Pass medical, psychological, physical exams

The state’s Highway Patrol is divided into troops with jurisdiction over various areas of the state. They include:

  • West Trenton – Headquarters
  • Troop A (includes stations in Camden, Williamstown, Atlantic City, Woodstown)
  • Troop B (includes stations in Irvington, West Hampton, Bellmawr, Bridgeton)
  • Troop C (includes stations in Bordentown, Hamilton, Trenton and West Creek)
  • Troop D (includes stations in Mount Laurel, Cranbury and New Gretna)
  • Troop E (includes stations in Bloomfield and Holmdel)

Forensic Scientists and Crime Scene Investigation Jobs in New Jersey

Crime scene investigators and forensic scientists examine and analyze all types of evidence obtained from New Jersey crime scenes. Places in New Jersey in which forensic scientists and CSIs work include:

  • Union County Prosecutor’s Office Forensic Laboratory – Elizabeth
  • New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Sciences – Hamilton, Little Falls, Sea Girt
  • Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Criminalistics Division – Toms River
  • New Jersey State Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit – Buena Vista, Hamilton and Totowa
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Requirements to Become a New Jersey Forensic Scientist

There is a vast array of forensic science college degree programs in New Jersey. Based on one’s intended career in forensic science, a certificate, associate degree, bachelor degree, or graduate degree may be needed. Majors typically include forensic science, forensic chemistry, criminal justice with forensics emphasis, and computer forensics.

It may benefit a New Jersey forensic scientist to seek professional certification, based upon one’s specialty. The Society of Forensic Toxicologists, Inc. is just one example of a specialized organization offering professional credentials to qualified individuals in New Jersey.

Requirements to Become a New Jersey CSI

Because of the specialized nature of the CSI’s job, a certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree is frequently necessary. Majors that are often pursued include criminal investigations, criminal justice and forensic science.

CSIs in New Jersey may pursue certification through the New Jersey State Division of The International Association for Identification. This organization offers certifications for criminalists and other qualified professionals in latent prints, footwear/tire tracks, crime scene, forensic photography and more.

Correctional Officer Jobs in New Jersey

Correctional officers in New Jersey may be employed within the state’s two federal facilities or 13 state-run institutions.

Qualifying to Work for the New Jersey Department of Corrections

Aspiring correctional officers in New Jersey must be U.S. citizens who are at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, be a resident of New Jersey, have a valid New Jersey driver’s license, be able to read and write in English, and be able to carry a firearm.

Facilities run by the New Jersey Department of Corrections and employing correctional officers include:

  • South Woods State Prison-Delmont
  • Southern State Correctional Facility-Bridgeton
  • Northern State Prison-Newark
  • New Jersey State Prison-Trenton
  • Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility-Annandale
  • Mid-State Correctional Facility Annex-Wrightstown
  • Garden State Youth Correctional Facility -Yardville
  • E. Mahan Correctional Facility for Women-Clinton
  • East Jersey State Prison-Rahway
  • Central Reception and Assignment Facility-Trenton
  • Bayside State Prison-Leesburg
  • A.C. Wagner Youth Correctional Facility-Avenel
  • Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center-Avenel

Working for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in New Jersey

Entry-level correctional officer jobs in federal prisons in New Jersey require applicants to be U.S. citizens between the ages of 20 and 37 with no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions on record. Additionally, they must have a bachelor’s degree or three years of related experience.
New Jersey is home to two federal correctional facilities that employ correctional officers:

  • Federal Correctional Institution – Fort Dix
  • Federal Correctional Institution – Fairton

Paralegals and Legal Support Jobs in New Jersey

Paralegals, legal assistants and other legal support personnel in New Jersey assist attorneys with substantive legal tasks. Paralegals in New Jersey work for firms and organizations like:

  • Gold, Albanese & Barletti, LLC – Morristown
  • Archer & Greiner, P.C. – Princeton
  • Legal Services of Northwest Jersey – Somerville
  • Pearson Education – Upper Saddle River

Qualifying for Paralegal Jobs in New Jersey

Paralegals in New Jersey usually have one of the following certificates or degrees:

  • Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Associate in Science in Paralegal Studies
  • Certificate in Paralegal Studies
  • Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Paralegal Studies

Certification is optional for New Jersey paralegals but is recommended. The South Jersey Paralegal Certification developed the New Jersey Certified Paralegal (NJCP) credential to identify the most highly qualified paralegals in the state. To earn this credential, a paralegal must join South Jersey Paralegal Association and meet qualifications such as holding a national credential, possessing five years of paralegal experience, or possessing a certificate, associate or bachelor degree.

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jobs in New Jersey

Emergency management and homeland security jobs in New Jersey are also within the criminal justice spectrum. With New Jersey’s proximity to New York, the terroristic events of September 11, 2001 greatly affected the citizens of the Garden State. Many students studying criminal justice might feel that they want to respond to such events by working in homeland security or emergency management. Usually these jobs require at least a bachelor degree in criminal justice, homeland security, emergency management, security studies or a related discipline.

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These types of jobs are usually found within organizations in New Jersey such as:

  • New Jersey Officer of Emergency Management – Trenton
  • New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness – Hamilton Township
  • Hackensack United Medical Center – Westwood
  • American Red Cross – Fairfield

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