Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry indicates that the number of jobs in the field of criminal justice will increase by 2.7% annually through the year 2022. This means that more than 1,500 new jobs will be created each year for police officers, criminal investigators, crime scene technicians, paralegals, corrections officers and more.

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In almost all cases, a degree specific to one of these specialized areas is vital to gaining the knowledge necessary to contribute effectively to the state’s criminal justice system.

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Law Enforcement and Detective Jobs in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania was home to 34,000 law enforcement officers at the local, county and state levels as of 2014. One thousand new law enforcement jobs are expected to become available in the state each year in the current ten-year period ending 2022.

To become a Pennsylvania police officer, state highway patrol officer, or detective, an applicant must meet basic eligibility requirements. Different departments have slightly different age requirements. For instance, the Pittsburgh Police Department only requires that an applicant be nineteen years old, while the Erie Police Department requires that the applicant be twenty-one years old.

Other basic eligibility requirements include the following:

  • Must be a citizen of the U.S.
  • Must pass a written, medical, and physical exam
  • Must hold a high school diploma

Although a high school degree is the only necessary requirement, the growth and increasing competition in the field has more and more entry-level applicants obtaining post-secondary education in law enforcement, criminal justice or investigations.

Requirements for Becoming a Police Officer in Pennsylvania

The Philadelphia Police Department is the fourth largest police department in the nation. Because of this, the hiring process is extremely competitive. Application requirements include being at least nineteen years old, having at least sixty credits of accredited college education, and being able to pass written, physical, psychological, and polygraph exams.

If applicants do not have the necessary education, police departments may hire candidates into lower positions, such as police cadet or trainee. The cadet or trainee will need to complete the Philadelphia Police Explorers Cadet program, which includes two years and 672 hours of training, as well as 298 hours of community service or external training.

Local police departments though Pennsylvania include, but are not limited to, the following departments:

  • Bellwood Borough Police Department – Bellwood
  • Upper Macungie Township Police Department – Upper Macungie
  • Northumberland CTC – Northumberland
  • Easton police Department – Easton
  • Marple Township Police Department – Broomall
  • Wilkinsburg Police Department – Wilkinsburg

Qualifying for Pennsylvania State Highway Patrol Jobs

State police officers patrol highways in order to enforce vehicle laws and regulations, and they often work with other law enforcement agencies. The Pennsylvania State Police hires state troopers who meet the following requirements:

  • Must be between twenty and forty years old
  • Must have a valid driver’s license
  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must be a resident of Pennsylvania
  • Must possess a high school diploma AND at least 60 credit hours of college credit, leading to an associate’s degree
  • Must graduate from State Trooper Cadet Academy

Pennsylvania State Police stations are found in, but not limited to, the following Pennsylvania cities:

  • Gettysburg
  • Gibsonia
  • Beaver
  • Bedford
  • Hamburg
  • Reading
  • Butler
  • Harrisburg

Necessary Training for Detectives in Pennsylvania

Detectives are the investigators with local and state police departments that gather evidence, conduct interviews, and examine criminal records.

Once law enforcement officers gain enough experience and education, they may become detectives at the state or local level. Police stations, such as the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and the Allentown Police Department, have criminal investigation units that an officer may work into.

Some of the largest police departments that may be hiring officers, troopers, or detectives in Pennsylvania include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The Philadelphia Police Department
  • City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
  • Temple University Police Department – Philadelphia
  • Allentown Police Department
  • Erie Police Department

Paralegals and Other Legal Support Professions in Pennsylvania

The number of paralegal jobs in Pennsylvania is increasing at a rate of 18.4%, opening up over three hundred jobs each year, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. This leads to great opportunities to aspiring paralegals and legal assistants.

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A certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree in Paralegal Studies from an American Bar Association (ABA) accredited university will help applicants distinguish themselves among the growing applicant pool. Many top-paying positions will require either a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree with five to eight years of experience.

There are fourteen ABA approved paralegal schools in Pennsylvania, located in the following cities:

  • Newtown
  • Summerdale
  • Oil city
  • Philadelphia
  • Media
  • Pittsburgh
  • Erie
  • Harrisburg
  • Schnecksville
  • Jenkintown
  • Bethlehem
  • Philadelphia
  • Williamsport
  • Villanova

The Central Pennsylvania Paralegal Association is a member of the National Federation of paralegal Associations. For membership, the Association requires that a paralegal have a certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. If the applicant does not meet the educational requirements, acceptance will be based upon having at least two years of paralegal experience.

A paralegal may obtain voluntary certification through differing paralegal associations, including the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). NALA offers paralegal examination that lead to certifications. Certifications like these will establish the paralegal’s credibility regarding paralegal skill, experience, and education.

Best-Rated Law Firms in Pennsylvania

Paralegals may look for jobs at some of the leading law firms in Pennsylvania. The U.S. News and World Report created a detailed report on the best-rated law firms throughout the U.S. For Pennsylvania, law firms included, but were not limited to, the following:

  • Abes Baumann – Pittsburgh
  • ADR Options, Inc. – Philadelphia
  • Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP – Philadelphia
  • Alexander & Pelli, LLC – Philadelphia
  • Alice G. Gosfield and Associates, P.C. – Philadelphia

Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Jobs in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry indicates that the number of crime scene investigator jobs is growing at a steady 4.0%. This means stable opportunity for those interested in becoming forensic scientists or crime scene investigators.

Crime scene investigators and forensic scientists may obtain jobs at the federal, state, or local levels at organizations including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation – Philadelphia, Pittsburgh
  • Pennsylvania State Police: Criminal Investigations Unit or Forensic Services Unit
  • City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police
  • Allentown Police Department: Criminal Investigations Unit

Requirements for Pennsylvania Jobs in Forensic Science

At the local level, some police departments have special units for forensic scientists. For instance, the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has a Mobile Crime Unit that employs detectives, crime scene investigators, and forensic analysts.

If a forensic scientist is looking to be employed at the state level, the scientist may first attain a job as a state trooper with the Pennsylvania State Police and have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. At this point, the trooper will have an opportunity to move into the state police’s forensic services unit.

At the federal level, a forensic scientist may look for work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Pennsylvania. To be eligible, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen, between twenty-three and thirty-six years old, hold at least a bachelor’s degree forensic science, chemistry, biology, or another type of science, and have at least three years of laboratory work experience.

Qualifications for Crime Scene Investigation Jobs in Pennsylvania

In order to qualify for jobs at the local and state level, a crime scene investigator must first qualify as a local or state police officer. Form there, the officer will be given the necessary education, experience and training to move into the criminal investigations unit.

In order to attain a job as a crime scene investigator with the FBI in Pennsylvania, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen, between twenty-three and thirty-six years old, hold at least a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or crime scene investigation, and have at least three years of professional work experience.

Qualifying for Correctional Officer Jobs in Pennsylvania

Correctional officers work to enforce the rules and regulations of local jails, state prisons, and federal penitentiaries. They oversee the inmates in order to maintain sanitary conditions, avoid fire hazards, and confiscate contraband. Out of the 428,900 total correctional officers employed in the United States in 2004, 15,960 of them were employed in Pennsylvania. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania estimates there will be more than three hundred annual correctional job openings.

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Qualifications for Correctional Officers in Pennsylvania

In order to attain a job as a correctional officer in Pennsylvania, an applicant must meet the minimum requirements of being a U.S. citizen, being at least eighteen years old, holding a high school diploma, and having a clean criminal record. There are also physical, medical, and standardized tests that applicant will need to pass. Newly hired officers will most likely undergo training created by the American Correctional Association and the American Jail Association.

Preference will go to applicants who have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in corrections, or those who have experience working for other government agencies. Advanced education also provides an officer with advancement opportunities toward becoming a supervisor, administrator, warden, or sergeant.

Qualifications for Jobs in the Federal Bureau of Prisons In Pennsylvania

In order to qualify to become a correctional officer in a federal prison in Pennsylvania, an applicant must be younger than thirty-seven, must be a U.S. citizen, and must have completed at least a four-year bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. When applying for higher level corrections positions, applicants must meet increasingly higher education and experience qualifications, such as taking at least nine semester hours of graduate work in criminal justice, criminal science, criminology, or other related fields.

Pennsylvania is home to many federal prison institutions, including the following:

  • Allenwood FCC – Allenwood, White Deer
  • Canaan USP – Waymart
  • Lewisburg USP – Lewisburg
  • Loretto FCI – Loretto
  • McKean FCI – Lewis Run
  • Moshannon Valley CI – Philipsburg
  • Philadelphia FDC and RRM – Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh RRM – Pittsburgh

Emergency Management Jobs in Pennsylvania

Emergency management jobs have been a mainstay in Pennsylvania since the events of September 11th 2001. Emergency management jobs provide great opportunities for those who are passionate about protecting all aspects of the state, from school and workplace safety to infrastructure protection.

At the local and state levels, an emergency response worker will need to start as a police officer or state trooper. From there the officer may work up to the emergency response division with enough experience and education.

For work at the state level with organizations such as Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, an applicant must pass the Emergency Management Specialist Test. To be eligible to take this exam, an applicant must have at least two years of experience in emergency-related programs such as disaster relief, public safety, or emergency management in government, industry, education, or in the military.

Emergency response workers may look for employment at the local and state levels with organizations including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency – Harrisburg, Hamburg, Indiana, Lewistown
  • City of Allentown Emergency Response Team
  • Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Rapid Emergency Deployment

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