Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in New Mexico

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report (2013), the crime rate in New Mexico is 42 percent higher than the nation’s average crime rate:

  • About 86 percent of the crimes occurring in New Mexico are property crimes, which is 37 percent higher than the national average
  • Fourteen percent of New Mexico’s crimes are violent crimes, a rate that is 76 percent higher than the national average
  • New Mexico has the highest burglary rate of any state

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Many in law enforcement and other areas of criminal justice attribute New Mexico’s elevated crime rate to the major drug routes running through the state to Mexico.

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Enhancing New Mexico’s criminal justice system by adding better-qualified professionals can help the state to combat its growing crime problem. New Mexico’s criminal justice system offers more opportunities than ever before:

  • Job opportunities for paralegals in New Mexico are expected to increase by 9.1 percent between 2010 and 2020, with an estimated 30 job openings each year during that decade.
  • The number of police and sheriff’s officer jobs in New Mexico is projected to increase by 9 percent during the decade, with 120 job openings expected each year.
  • The number of correctional officer jobs in New Mexico is expected to increase by 7.9 percent between 2010 and 2020, with about 140 new job openings expected each year.
  • Detective and criminal investigator jobs are projected to increase the most among all law enforcement jobs in New Mexico, at a rate of 15.8 percent, during this decade.

Students with an interest in criminal justice who want to make a difference and help to lower New Mexico’s climbing crime rates should be heartened by these numbers. Not only can criminal justice professionals make a difference within the state, but they can also expect there to be a strong demand for their services well into the future.

Law Enforcement Jobs in New Mexico

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that as of 2008 there were 148 law enforcement agencies across New Mexico, with an average of 252 officers per 100,000 people.

Qualifying for Police and Sheriff’s Officers Jobs in New Mexico

Police and sheriff’s officers in New Mexico make up the state’s foundation of law enforcement. Each city and county has its own requirements that these officers must meet. These general basic selection standards apply to all officers:

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must have at least a high school diploma (post-secondary criminal justice education is always a plus)
  • Must have no felonies or misdemeanors on record

Police officers and deputy sheriffs work in these types of agencies across New Mexico:

  • Albuquerque Police Department, Albuquerque
  • Rio Rancho Department of Public Safety, Rio Rancho
  • Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, Roswell
  • San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office, Las Vegas

Qualifying for Detective Jobs in New Mexico

Detectives and criminal investigators in New Mexico must meet the basic requirements for police officers and deputy sheriffs, and experience as a law enforcement officer is necessary before one can be promoted to detective. It is also recommended that prospective detectives get a minimum of an associate degree in criminal justice, law, law enforcement, crime scene investigation or a related field.

Detectives in New Mexico work as agencies such as:

  • Las Cruces Police Department Criminal Investigations Section, Las Cruces
  • New Mexico State Police Special Investigations Division, Albuquerque
  • Santa Fe Police Department Criminal Investigations Division, Santa Fe
  • Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division, Albuquerque

Qualifying for New Mexico State Police Jobs

The New Mexico State Police often recruits for state trooper positions. These jobs require much training, which occurs in the training academy and on the job. Requirement that state trooper candidates must meet include:

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must have a valid driver’s license and good driving record
  • Must have no serious criminal convictions on file
  • An associate degree in criminal justice or a related field is recommended

Jobs within the New Mexico State Police are located statewide, in areas including:

  • Deming
  • Socorro
  • Farmington
  • Clovis
  • Alamogordo
  • Espanola
  • Gallup
  • Albuquerque
  • Las Cruces
  • Roswell
  • Las Vegas
  • Santa Fe

Forensic Scientists and Crime Scene Investigation Jobs in New Mexico

Forensic scientists and crime scene investigators (or CSIs) in New Mexico work with evidence obtained from crime scenes.

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These types of agencies employ CSIs and forensic scientists in New Mexico:

  • New Mexico Department of Public Safety Forensic Laboratories Bureau – Santa Fe, Hobbs and Las Cruces
  • New Mexico State Police Crime Scene Unit- statewide
  • Farmington Police Department Crime Lab- Farmington
  • City of Artesia Police Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit – Artesia

Qualifying for Forensic Scientist Jobs in New Mexico

A bachelor degree in forensic science or a related area is required for forensic scientist jobs in New Mexico. Other majors that may be helpful to potential forensic scientists in New Mexico include biochemistry, biology, chemistry, molecular biology and genetics.

Professional certification is not a necessity for New Mexico’s forensic scientists. It is available through national organizations such as the American Board of Forensic Professionals and the American College of Forensic Examiners Institute.

Qualifying for Crime Scene Investigator Jobs in New Mexico

Usually a minimum of an associate degree is necessary for CSI jobs in New Mexico. Criminal justice, criminology, crime scene investigation or a related field are likely majors for these jobs.

Professional certification is an option, not a requirement, for New Mexico CSIs. Organizations such as the International Association for Identification are popular among CSIs who desire certification in New Mexico.

Correctional Officer Jobs in New Mexico

Correctional officers in New Mexico work in federal and state-run facilities.

Qualifying for Correctional Officer Jobs with the New Mexico Corrections Department

The New Mexico Corrections Department operates 11 adult institutions statewide. In order to become a correctional officer at any of them, a candidate must be a U.S. citizen who is 18 or older and holds a high school diploma. He or she must not have any felony, domestic violence, or aggravated DWI convictions, or convictions for selling or distributing an illegal substance.

At the state level, correctional officers in New Mexico may work in:

  • Western New Mexico Correctional Facility, Grants
  • Springer Correctional Facility, Springer
  • Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility, Las Cruces
  • Roswell Correctional Center, Roswell
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico, Santa Fe
  • Otero County Prison, Chaparral
  • New Mexico Women’s Correctional Facility, Grants
  • Lea County Correctional Center, Hobbs
  • Guadalupe County Correctional Facility, Santa Rosa
  • Central New Mexico Correctional Facility, Los Lunas
  • Northeastern New Mexico Detention Facility, Clayton

Qualifying for Correctional Officer Jobs with the Federal Bureau of Prisons in New Mexico

Federal correctional officers in New Mexico must be U.S. citizens who are between 20 and 37 years old, have no major debts, and have no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions. They must have a bachelor’s degree or three years of related, qualifying experience.

There is just one federal prison facility in New Mexico in which correctional officers work:

  • Correctional Institution – Cibola County- Milan

Paralegals and Legal Support Jobs in New Mexico

Paralegals in New Mexico must meet qualifications of the State Bar of New Mexico before they may legally assist licensed attorneys.

Three routes exist to becoming a paralegal in New Mexico:

  • Receive a degree such as an Associate in Applied Science in Paralegal Studies or a Certificate in Paralegal Studies
  • Have a high school diploma and seven years of substantive legal experience under a licensed New Mexico lawyer’s supervision
  • Become professionally, nationally certified by a paralegal organization and have one year of substantive legal experience under a licensed New Mexico lawyer’s supervision

Unless a New Mexico paralegal chooses the certification route to qualify, certification is optional for paralegals. The State Bar of New Mexico recognizes certifications offered by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA) and the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. (NALA).

Organizations Employing New Mexico Paralegals

New Mexico paralegals work within organizations such as:

  • Stetson Law Offices, P.C., Albuquerque
  • New Mexico State Bar Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice, Albuquerque
  • Carpenter Law, P.C., Santa Fe
  • DNA-People’s Legal Services, Inc., Farmington

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jobs in New Mexico

Homeland security and emergency management in New Mexico includes not only protecting the state from terrorism and responding to emergencies, but also securing the state’s borders against drug cartels. Mexican drug cartels run major methamphetamine and heroin routes through New Mexico. Professionals working in emergency management and homeland security work with state and local law enforcement to combat this scourge on the state and the nation. These jobs typically require a bachelor degree in criminal justice, emergency management, homeland security or security studies.

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Qualifying for Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jobs in New Mexico

Organizations in New Mexico that may offer emergency management and homeland security jobs include:

  • New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Albuquerque
  • FBI Field Intelligence Group, Albuquerque
  • McKinley County Department of Emergency Management, Gallup
  • Dona Ana County Office of Emergency Management, Las Cruces

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