Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Employment Economic Research and Analysis Division expects the legal and protective service industry to grow by 16.21% in the coming years, opening up over one thousand jobs annually through 2018.

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Law enforcement is a huge career field in Oklahoma, with 7,610 police officers and sheriff’s deputies employed throughout the state as of 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Tulsa has the highest concentration of law enforcement jobs throughout the state, with more than five officers for every one employee. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 1,610 criminal investigators were employed in Oklahoma in 2013. More than 600 were employed in Oklahoma City alone.

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Attaining a degree in criminal justice can be extremely beneficial when applying for criminal justice jobs in everything from law enforcement and corrections, to legal support and forensic science.

Qualifying for Law Enforcement Jobs in Oklahoma

The number of police officer and sheriff’s deputy jobs is expected to grow by 16.60% between 2008 and 2018 according to the Oklahoma Employment Economic Research and Analysis Division. Further, the Division estimates that the number of detectives is expected to grow by 13.59% with 40 jobs opening each year.

Guidelines for How to Become an Oklahoma Police Officer, State Patrol Officer, or Detective

There are many different police departments throughout Oklahoma, but the Oklahoma City Police Department is one of the largest, with one central station and five substations covering 2,500 police reporting districts. Other police departments throughout the state include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Nichols Hills Police – Nichols Hills
  • Oklahoma City Police – Oklahoma City
  • Midwest City Police Department – Midwest City
  • Valley Brook Police Department – Oklahoma City
  • Amber Police Department – Amber

In order to become a police officer in Utah, candidates must meet the following general requirements:

  • Be a citizen of the U.S.
  • Be between 21 and 45 years old
  • Hold a valid driver’s license
  • Have good moral character and emotional stability
  • Be accepted into the Oklahoma State Police Pension and Retirement System
  • Hold a high school diploma (or GED)

Degrees and Certification in Law Enforcement

The Oklahoma City Police Department notes that preference is given to applicants who hold sixty (60) or more college credits in military service. Although each police station’s education requirements are different, preference to those holding college degrees is standard.

Applicants that meet the eligibility requirements may apply to become an Oklahoma police officer by completing the following steps:

  • Filling out an application form
  • Passing an initial physical fitness evaluation
  • Passing an aptitude test with a score of at least 70%
  • Completing a personal history questionnaire
  • Complete a Personality Assessment
  • Pass a Polygraph Exam
  • Pass a Background Investigation
  • Appear before the Employment Assessment Board
  • Complete One Final Medical and Psychological Evaluation

Once accepted, the Oklahoma Police Department requires that a recruit will attend a 28-week training academy. This academy provides instruction in criminal law, constitutional law, emergency vehicle operation, firearms training, self-defense tactics, principles of investigation, first aid, minority relations, and police community relations.

After successful completion of the academy, a recruit will become a certified police officer through the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (C.L.E.E.T.) If an applicant is applying with a different police department, the C.L.E.E.T. certification will either be a prerequisite or simply be preferred for employment.

Requirements to Become an Oklahoma State Highway Patrol Officer

The Oklahoma State Highway Patrol oversees the qualification and guidelines for those who wish to become highway patrol officers. The minimum qualifications for application are outlined as follows:

  • Must be between 21 and 45 years old
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen
  • Must possess an associate’s degree


  • Must have completed a minimum of sixty-two (62) semester hours from an accredited college of university


  • Have completed thirty-two (32) semester credits and served three (3) active years of military or reserve military service


  • Have completed thirty-two (32) semester credits and have been honorably discharged from any active military service

If eligible, an applicant will need to fill out an application and all supporting documents in time to attend the yearly academy. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol academy is a semi-military, twenty (20)-week training program, and it is necessary before becoming a highway patrol officer. The Oklahoma State Highway Patrol includes many different special troops, which focus on different areas of law enforcement, including the following:

  • Troop MC – Oklahoma City
  • Troop O – Norman
  • Troop R – Oklahoma City
  • Troop XC – Indian Nation
  • Troop S0 – Special Ops – Oklahoma City

Essential Education and Training to Become a Detective in Oklahoma

Detectives are hired to investigate the violent crimes occurring all over the state. They are often hired at the state level, and they assist the local police and sheriff offices as necessary. Detectives must be highly trained and educated to interview witnesses, conduct undercover operations, and evaluate forensic investigations.

To become a detective at the state level, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal investigations is a must. Sometimes, local county offices will hire detectives without the higher education, but attaining education is a significant way of standing apart from other detective applicants.

Attaining a bachelor’s degree in police science, law enforcement, criminal justice, or crime scene investigation will allow an applicant to be eligible for jobs with the two state law enforcement agencies that complete criminal investigations at this level:

  • Oklahoma State Highway Patrol – Troop Z: Investigations
  • Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI)

Other local, city-level jobs may be found at the following agencies:

  • Oklahoma City Police Department: Investigations Bureau
  • Tulsa Police Department: Investigations Bureau
  • Norman Police Department: Criminal Investigations Division
  • Lawton Police Department: Detective Division
  • Oklahoma County Sherriff’s Office: Investigations Division
  • Tulsa County Sheriff’s office: Crime Division

Paralegals and Legal Support Professionals in Oklahoma

Oklahoma is home to 3,250 paralegals and legal assistants. Paralegals assist lawyers and attorneys with researching, organizing, and preparing legal documents and records. Oklahoma City and Tulsa are tied for having the highest concentration of paralegal jobs in the state, according to the BLS.

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The Oklahoma Economic Research and Analysis Division expects the number of jobs within this field to grow by 17.58% by 2018.

Paralegal Degree and Certification Options

Employers prefer to hire applicants with certificates, associate’s degrees, or bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies. Some jobs will require longer periods of work experience if the applicant has little to no previous education. The American Bar Association (ABA) approves paralegal programs that issue certificates, associate’s degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. Paralegal programs may be found in the following Oklahoma cities:

  • Tulsa
  • Norman
  • Midwest City
  • Ada

Employers often seek out certified paralegals for employment. Certification comes by taking a paralegal certificate course, which trains students in the Oklahoma State and national legal system and on how to prepare legal documents.

A prospective paralegal may also joint he Oklahoma Paralegal Association, which is an affiliation of the National Association of Legal Assistants, for access to Oklahoma paralegal courses and scholarships.

Major Law Firms in Oklahoma

Law offices, government offices, organizations and nonprofits all look to hire paralegal and legal assistants. Here are some Oklahoma organizations that may be looking to hire paralegals:

  • Mills & Jones, L.L.P. – Oklahoma City
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs – Muskogee
  • Bado & Bado – Edmond
  • Addison Group – Norman

How to Qualify for Forensic Science and Crime Scene Investigation Jobs in Oklahoma

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there were 1,610 criminal investigators and 200 forensic science technicians employed in the state in 2013. Almost half of the forensic scientists were located in Oklahoma City. The number of forensic science technician jobs is expected to grow by 20.33% in the coming years, and criminal investigator jobs are expected to grow by 13.59%. This represents 40 new jobs opening each year, according to the Oklahoma Economic Research and Analysis Division.

Requirements for Oklahoma Jobs in Forensics

Forensic scientists know how to unlock the secrets behind crime scene chemistry, anatomy, and biology. If employed at the state level by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, a forensic scientist would work by offering laboratory services to local law enforcement.

Education – It is expected that when attaining a forensic scientist job at the local or state level, an applicant will have at least a bachelor’s degree in a physical or biological science. Often, experience in forensic laboratories is preferred as well.

Certification – Certification is a great way to stand out in the demanding field of forensic science. Certification may lead to access to higher paying jobs. It is helpful to be competency certified as a forensic scientist from a forensic laboratory accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB).

Qualifications for Crime Scene Investigation Jobs in Oklahoma

Crime scene investigators are responsible for conducting thorough inspections of crime scenes, including analyzing footprints, footwear, tire marks, firearms evidence, blood and other bodily fluids, controlled substances, hair, fibers, and gunshot residue. Collecting, processing, and organizing evidence is among a crime scene investigator’s top priorities.

Education – Employers always prefer candidates with backgrounds in higher education. Generally, a crime scene investigator should attain a bachelor’s degree or higher in forensic science from an accredited college or university. Preference will be given to applicants with specialized training in crime scene investigation. If the education standards are not met, often employers seek applicants with higher levels of experience, such as two (2) years working full-time as a crime scene investigator.

Professional Organizations for Forensic Scientists and CSIs in Oklahoma

Universities, forensic labs, or state and local government agencies including the following may employ forensic scientists and crime scene investigators:

  • Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation
  • Investigations Bureau of the Oklahoma City Police Department – Oklahoma City
  • Tula Police Department – Tulsa
  • University of Oklahoma, Forensic Sciences Department
  • Norman Police Department – Norman

Oklahoma Department Correctional Services and Federal Bureau of Prisons Jobs in Oklahoma

There were 5,740 jailers and correction officers employed throughout Oklahoma in 2013, according to the BLS. This means that there were almost four correctional officers for every one thousand jobs in the state.

In Oklahoma, the Economic Research and Analysis Division expects correctional officer and jailer jobs to grow by 15.50%, meaning that 250 jobs will open each year between 2008 and 2018.

How to Attain a Job in an Oklahoma Correctional Facility

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections oversees the state-level correctional centers. There are four (4) levels for Oklahoma correctional officers:

Level One Requirements:

  • Must be twenty (20) years old
  • Must be of good moral character
  • Satisfactorily complete fitness testing
  • Have valid driver’s license
  • Must pass drug testing
  • Must have completed at least thirty (30) college or university credit hours


  • Must have graduated from high school and completed an approved training course conducted by the Department and certified by the Council on Law Enforcement and Education Training

Level Two Requirements:

  • Must meet all level one requirements
  • Must have knowledge of firearm use and care, proper restraint methods and techniques, and self-defense techniques

Level Three Requirements:

  • Must meet all level one and two requirements
  • Must hold intimate knowledge of the methods and objectives of discipline for inmates under restraint and the psychology of inmate behavior
  • Must have at least eighteen months of experience in a correctional or security facility

Level Four Requirements:

  • Must meet all level one, two, and three requirements
  • Must hold twenty-four months of qualifying experience

Oklahoma correctional centers include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Clara Waters Community Corrections Center
  • Lawton Community Corrections Center
  • Oklahoma City Community Corrections Center
  • Union City Community Corrections Center
  • Oklahoma State Penitentiary
  • Oklahoma State Reformatory

How to Qualify for Jobs in the Federal Bureau of Prisons In Oklahoma

Workers for the Federal Bureau of Prisons get to enjoy a work culture that is known as family and career-oriented, which offers many unique career opportunities. FTC Oklahoma City and FCI El Reno are the two federal prison institutions in Oklahoma.

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In order to work for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the following requirements must be met:

General Requirements:

  • Must be younger than thirty-six (36) upon initial employment
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen
  • Males born after 12/31/59 must be registered for, or exempt from, the selective service

Educational Requirements:

  • Successfully completed a full four-year course of study from an accredited college or university in any field, graduating with a bachelor’s degree
  • Must have taken nine semester hours of graduate study from an accredited school in Criminal Justice, Criminology, Social Science, or another related field
  • Must upload and send official transcripts

Experience Requirements for GL-O5:

  • Must have at least three years of full-time work experience, including working in any field with correction, such as social work, counseling, classroom teaching, rehabilitation, supervision, management, or persuasive sales
  • One of the three years must be in specialized, or GL-04 level, experience

Experience Requirements for GL-O6:

  • Must have at least one year of specialized experience equivalent in difficulty and complexity to GL-05, such as working as a correctional officer, detention officer police officer, border patrol agent, state trooper, sheriff, park ranker, deputy sheriff supervising jail inmates, or mental health worker

Degrees by State