Degree Programs for Criminal Justice Jobs in Vermont

Earning a degree in criminal justice is either a necessity or a preferred qualification for many careers in Vermont’s criminal justice system. This includes law enforcement and corrections officers, special investigators, legal assistants, crime scene investigators and forensic lab technicians, homeland security agents, and many other promising career opportunities.

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Over the next 10 years in Vermont the legal support profession is forecasted to experience a 26 percent surge in job growth. Professionals in the fields of law enforcement and corrections are also projected to see stable growth in the state over the same period. The common element that underlies all these careers is an education in criminal justice.

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Vermont’s skilled criminal justice workforce holds the line between a productive law-abiding citizenry and criminal vice. Working in this field requires an ideological commitment backed up by a strong educational foundation.

Requirements for Law Enforcement and Criminal Investigator Jobs in Vermont

Municipal police officers, county sheriff deputies, and state troopers are the front line against criminal activity across Vermont, be it drug smuggling, domestic violence, or human trafficking.

How to Become a Police Officer and Deputy Sheriff in Vermont

The hiring qualifications to become a police officer or a deputy sheriff are determined by the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council (VCJTC). This agency oversees the training and certification of all police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and state patrol officers throughout the state.

The minimum qualifications for hire are the same for police officers and sheriff deputies everywhere in Vermont:

  • Be at least 18 years of age – 20 years of age for State Trooper positions
  • Have at least a high school diploma or GED
  • Be in good condition psychologically and physically
  • Have a clean criminal record and be able to pass a background investigation
  • To be competitive candidates are encouraged to have some formal education in the field of law enforcement or criminal justice

Currently there are 1,350 police officers and deputy sheriffs employed throughout Vermont. The largest employers of these law enforcement professionals include:

  • Colchester Police Department
  • Rutland City Police Department
  • Essex Police Department
  • Burlington Police Department
  • Chittenden County Sheriff’s Department
  • Rutland County Sheriff’s Department
  • Washington County Sheriff’s Department
  • Vermont State Police, with four troops based in 12 barracks across the state

Moving Into Detective Jobs in Vermont

Detectives are advanced law enforcement professionals who work for police and sheriff departments as well as prosecutors and state police or federal investigative agencies. While the requirements to become a detective vary according to the agency, candidates should keep in mind some of the general qualifications in this field:

  • Prior work experience as an entry-level law enforcement officer who has earned seniority
  • Some agencies may require advanced education such as an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in the fields of criminal investigations or law enforcement
  • To work as an FBI Special Agent you need to have a four-year college degree and be between the ages of 23-37

The most recent tally showed there are 240 detectives and criminal investigators employed throughout Vermont, including within the following agencies:

  • Vermont Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) based in Waterbury
  • FBI Agents based out of the field office in Albany, New York and serving all of Vermont
  • Police and sheriff department special investigators or detectives

Requirements to Become a Paralegal or Legal Assistant in Vermont

Legal assistants and paralegals work throughout Vermont to aid lawyers of all kinds, and in a criminal justice context this includes both defense attorneys and prosecutors. These professionals conduct legal research, prepare reports, conduct witness or expert interviews, and otherwise assist their employer. The most recent statistics show there are 610 paralegals and legal assistants working at locations throughout Vermont.

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Education – When it comes to education for paralegals, attorneys and law firms throughout Vermont are responsible for determining their own requirements for hire. Although there are no specific state degree requirements, paralegal education is available at colleges throughout Vermont as well as online. Degrees in paralegal studies can be obtained at the following levels:

  • Associate’s degree
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Postbac study
  • Academic certification

Having a degree in legal assisting or paralegal studies may also be one of the ways candidates can qualify for a professional certification.

Certification – The Vermont Paralegal Organization encourages all legal assistants to be professional and well educated. Although not specifically required by Vermont law, having some type of official paralegal certification can be a requirement imposed by law firms. Paralegals in Vermont have several options when it comes to pursuing professional certification:

Major Law Firms in Vermont

Legal assistants can work virtually anywhere legal services are needed, including at non-profit organizations, corporations, and for municipalities. Qualified paralegals may be able to find work with important law firms and organizations in Vermont, including:

  • Hampton O’Bannon Partners – recently seeking a trademark paralegal with a bachelor’s degree and/or a paralegal certification
  • Downs Rachlin Martin in Montpelier, Saint Johnsbury, Burlington, and Brattleboro – recently seeking a paralegal with at least a two-year college degree or paralegal certification
  • Gravel and Shea in Burlington
  • World Learning in Brattleboro – recently seeking a legal assistant with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience
  • O’Neill Kellner and Green in Burlington and Middlebury

Forensic and Crime Scene Investigator Careers in Vermont

Every year there are more than 800 violent crimes committed in Vermont. Crime scene investigators and forensic scientists are on the front lines of solving these crimes by conducting thoughtful inquiries and careful investigations. These professionals work with law enforcement agencies at all levels of government.

Education – Each law enforcement agency sets its own hiring standards for crime scene investigators and forensic technicians, with common requirements stating at least a bachelor’s degree in subjects like Forensic Science. Job-specific majors may include:

  • Chemistry for toxicologists
  • Forensic Chemistry
  • Human Biology for pathologists and DNA analysts or serologists
  • Physics or Mechanics for ballistics specialists

Certifications – Professionals in this field can also choose from among a number of certifications that demonstrate an enhanced specialization in any of several areas of forensic science. Organizations that offer crime scene investigation certifications include:

Required Qualifications for Vermont’s Forensic Science Employers

The Vermont Forensic Laboratory is part of the state’s Department of Public Safety based in Waterbury. There are many crime scene investigation positions at this agency, including:

  • Evidence Technician I – requires a bachelor’s degree preferably in a science field, or an associate’s degree in science plus six months of IT-related work experience
  • Digital Forensic Examiner – requires at least five years of experience in IT, law enforcement, or digital forensic analysis; a bachelor’s degree is preferred
  • Forensic Chemist – requires a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Biology, or other natural science
  • Forensic Latent Print Analyst – requires at least a bachelor’s degree
  • Forensic Lab Director – requires a master’s degree in a natural or physical science discipline plus seven years of work experience; or a Ph.D. in Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Biochemistry, or other related science field plus six years of work experience

Jobs with the Vermont Department of Corrections

Corrections officers work with those who have entered the correctional phase of the criminal justice process. There are approximately 590 correctional officers working throughout the state’s prison system. The state’s seven correctional facilities are managed by the Vermont Department of Corrections, with locations in:

  • Newport
  • Swanton
  • South Burlington
  • Saint Johnsbury
  • Rutland
  • Windsor
  • Springfield

Requirements to Become a Correctional Officer in Vermont

Candidates will need to meet several qualifications in order to apply for correctional officer jobs with the Vermont Department of Corrections:

  • Have two years of college education or either of the following:
    • Full-time work experience
    • Military service
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Have a clean criminal record
  • Be in good physical and mental health condition

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Jobs in Vermont

Since its creation following the September 11th terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security has today become an important part of law enforcement and preparedness activities in Vermont. As part of Vermont’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, HS Agents team up with local law enforcement agencies from across the state. Emergency Management officials work with their local counterparts in Montpelier to prepare for the worst, including pandemics and radiological emergencies.

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Homeland Security Agents

Homeland Security Agents work in the Vermont Fusion Center in Williston and cooperate with agencies such as:

  • Local police and sheriff’s departments
  • Vermont State Police
  • Canadian Security Intelligence Service
  • Royal Canadian Mounted Police
  • Surete du Quebec
  • Vermont Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council

Homeland Security Agent Jobs in Vermont

There are many types of homeland security agents who may work in Vermont Homeland Security, under the state’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Typically candidates will need a bachelor’s degree in their field of specialization, such as:

  • Security Studies
  • Information Technology
  • Criminal Justice

Emergency Management Agents

Emergency management officials in Vermont work with local government authorities to do things like:

  • Manage Vermont’s emergency alert system
  • Conduct community planning courses and exercises
  • Develop hazard mitigation plans
  • Coordinate local emergency planning committees
  • Develop emergency response programs

Requirements to Work in Emergency Management

Candidates need to be qualified to work for Vermont Emergency Management, under the state’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, which has offices in Waterbury, Newport and Barre. There are many routes to qualifying for emergency management jobs. A solid step prospective agents can take to prepare for a future career is to earn a college degree in fields such as:

  • Emergency Management
  • Public Administration
  • Logistics
  • Information Technology

Degrees by State