Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in South Carolina

As of 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that there were nearly ten-thousand law enforcement professionals employed throughout South Carolina, which amounts to a ratio of almost five police officer jobs for every one-thousand jobs in the state. South Carolina was also home to 4,500 paralegals as of 2013, according to BLS, as well as 7000 correctional officers.

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The criminal justice system in South Carolina relies on police officers to respond to crimes, detectives and other criminal investigators to investigate these crimes, crime scene investigators and forensic scientists to process and analyze evidence, paralegals to assist in prosecuting crimes, and correctional officers to see to it criminals pay their debt to society.

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The efficacy of the state’s criminal justice system is dependent on these dedicated professionals being qualified for their specialized roles through education and training.

Law Enforcement and Criminal Investigation Jobs in South Carolina

The Columbia and Charleston areas have the highest concentration of police officer jobs in the state. These areas house some of the largest police departments and state highway patrol posts in South Carolina.

Requirements for Police Officers in South Carolina

The Charleston Police Department has over four hundred sworn police officers, and it was one of the first in South Carolina to become accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Many South Carolina police departments, such as the Charleston Police Department, offer benefits to officers such as college inventive programs and in-service training that may lead to promotional positions, such as central investigations, SWAT, criminal investigations, and crime analysis.

This department has strict education standards for employment that other South Carolina departments may follow. In order to be employed as an officer, an applicant must be at least twenty-one years old, be a U.S. citizen, have a clear criminal record, and meet one of the following education and experience criteria:

  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree


  • Obtain an associate’s degree with four years of law enforcement or military experience


  • Obtain a high school diploma with at least six years of law enforcement or military experience

The department notes that salary levels are competitive, and they are based on the education and experience attained by each officer. Some other police departments in South Carolina include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Charleston Police Department – Charleston
  • Forest Acres Police Department – Columbia
  • West Columbia Police Department – West Columbia
  • Gaston Police Department – Gaston
  • Irmo Police Department -Irmo
  • Lexington Police Department – Lexington

Qualifications for South Carolina State Highway Patrol Officers

The South Carolina State Highway Patrol includes different law enforcement divisions, including highway patrol, protective services, transport police, and immigration enforcement. To become a state trooper, South Carolina highway patrol applicants must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Be at least twenty-one years old
  • Have valid South Carolina driver’s license
  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Hold a high school diploma
  • Have no criminal record
  • Have 20/20 vision, or no more than 20/100 corrected to 20/20
  • Have a clear driving record

Although a college degree is not required, preference will go to applicants who have a degree in criminology, criminal justice, or who have military experience. Because becoming a state trooper is an intensive process with many future career opportunities, any method of distinguishing an applicant through education and experience is beneficial. There are many highway patrol posts, including some in the following cities:

  • Anderson, SC
  • Sumter, SC
  • Charleston, SC
  • Hampton, SC
  • Greenwood, SC

Guidelines on How to Become a Detective in South Carolina

There were over one thousand detectives employed throughout South Carolina in 2013, according to the BLS. Many detectives start by being hired by a local or state police department as a police officer, then they complete continuing education and training to be promoted to the job detective.

At the federal level, a detective may join the Federal Bureau of Investigations, among other federal organizations. To qualify at the federal level, the applicant must be between twenty-one and thirty-seven, have at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university, and have at least three years of professional work experience.

The hiring agencies for detectives at the local, state, and federal level include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Charleston Police Department
  • South Carolina State Highway Patrol
  • Federal Bureau of Investigations – Columbia, Aiken, Charleston, Florence, Greenville, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, Rock Hill, Spartanburg
  • Columbia Field Intelligence Group

Paralegals and Legal Support Professionals in South Carolina

Paralegals assist attorneys in investigating and preparing documentation for legal preceedings.

The South Carolina Upstate Paralegal Association (SCUPA) and the Palmetto Paralegal Association of South Carolina (PPASC) are two accredited paralegal associations that will help paralegals gain education, experience, networking and job opportunities. Both associations require formal education to become a member, and continuing education to renew membership.

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The best paralegal education programs in South Carolina are certified by the American Bar Association (ABA), and they offer paralegal certificates, associate’s degrees, or bachelor’s degrees. There are at least nine ABA approved paralegal programs in South Carolina, located in the following cities:

  • Sumter
  • Florence
  • Greenville
  • Myrtle Beach
  • Columbia
  • Orangeburg
  • Lowcountry
  • Charleston

SCUPA, as part of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA), recommends that a paralegal obtain voluntary certification through NALA. The NALA paralegal certification is obtained through examination, and it speaks to a paralegal’s high level of education, experience, and skill. Because of the high demand for paralegals in South Carolina, applicants should attain as much education and certification as possible, in order to distinguish themselves from the large applicant pool.

Law Firms in South Carolina

Once paralegals are distinguished in education and certification, they may apply at some of the top law firms in South Carolina. The U.S. News and World Report and Best Lawyers combined to give a report on the best law firms throughout the United States. In South Carolina, these law firms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Adams and Reese LLP – Charleston, Columbia
  • Andrew N. Safran, LLC – Columbia
  • Andrews Meditation & Law Firm – Charleston
  • Anthony Law Firm P.A. – Greenville
  • Baker, Ravenel & Bender, L.L.P. – Columbia

How to Qualify for Forensics and Crime Scene Investigation Jobs in South Carolina

Crime scene investigators and forensic scientists are often key to successful criminal investigations. Forensic scientists and crime scene investigators in South Carolina may become members of the South Carolina International Association for Identification. This association will give members access to continuing education, networking opportunities, and the latest techniques and discoveries in crime investigations.

South Carolina Forensic Science Job Requirements

As of 2013, there were eighty forensic scientists employed in South Carolina, with a large number employed in Columbia. Forensic scientists are responsible for analyzing evidence with the use of biological, chemical and other physical sciences.

To be hired for civilian status forensic technician jobs, an applicant will need to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in a physical science field and be certified with the American Board of Criminalistics.

Crime Scene Investigation Qualification Requirements in South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina is home to almost half of all criminal investigators throughout the state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Crime scene investigators are responsible for obtaining, organizing, and identifying all evidence at crime scenes.

Many local and state organizations require that crime scene investigators have a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, crime scene investigation, criminology, or another related field. Along with this, many departments require that applicants are certified by the International Association for Identification.

Hiring Agencies for Forensic Scientists and Crime Scene Investigators in South Carolina

Forensic scientists and crime scene investigators may be hired at the local, state, or federal level. The following organizations are some that may be hiring forensic science and CSI professionals:

  • Charleston Police Department: Special Investigations Unit and Forensics Services
  • South Carolina State Highway Patrol
  • Federal Bureau of Investigations – Columbia
  • Richland County Sheriffs Department Crime Lab
  • South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED)

Correctional Officer Jobs in South Carolina

South Carolina was home to over 7,000 correctional officers in 2013, according to the US Department of Labor. Despite the high number of correctional officers in the state, plenty of opportunities are available to aspiring officers, as demand for their services is expected to continue rising for the foreseeable future.

How to Serve in the South Carolina Department of Corrections

The South Carolina Department of Corrections oversees the correctional facilities throughout the state. To be eligible to apply for a state correctional officer position, an applicant must be at least eighteen years old, have a high school diploma (or GED), and have a valid driver’s license.

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If eligible, an applicant may apply for employment. If employed, an officer will need to go through the physical exam and academic training provided by the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

There are 26 correctional institutions throughout South Carolina, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Walden Correctional Institution – Columbia
  • Kirkland Correctional Institution – Columbia
  • Lee Correctional Institution – Bishopville
  • Wateree River Correctional Institution – Rembert
  • Ridgeland Correctional Institution – Ridgeland

Qualifying for Jobs in the Federal Bureau of Prisons In South Carolina

For employment in the Federal Bureau of Prisons located in South Carolina, an applicant will need to be younger than the maximum entry age of thirty-seven, be a U.S. citizen, and will need to complete the following basic education and experience requirements:

  • Obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree
  • Have at least three full years of general experience, or one year of specialized experience

To be hired at higher salary levels, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Obtain a four-year bachelor’s degree, AND at least nine semester credit hours of graduate study in criminal justice, criminology, social science, or another field
  • Have at least one year of specialized experience as a correctional officer, detention officer, police officer, border patrol agent, state trooper, mental health residential worker, etc.

There are four federal prisons located in South Carolina, including the following locations:

  • Bennettsville FCI – Bennettsville
  • Edgefield FCI – Edgefield
  • Estill FCI – Estill
  • Williamsburg FCI – Salters

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