Criminal Justice Schools in California | CA

California State Criminal Justice Degrees

California’s educational institutions and workforce do not just revolve around the Silicon Valley. In fact, it is one of the top five states for the highest employment levels for almost every criminal justice and legal career imaginable according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Whether you wish to become a detective, legal mediator, fire inspector, paralegal or lawyer, criminal justice schools in California offer educational programs to kick start your professional endeavors. You can choose between online or campus institutions.

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California boasts the country’s largest unified court structure – the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. It equates to 50 courthouses, almost 600 courtrooms and over 5,000 employees. California also has the third largest municipal police force in the country (the LAPD), the largest state prison system in the country, four FBI field offices, nine U.S. Secret Services field offices and three Homeland Security Special-Agent-in-Charge offices. Finally, there are Regional Computer Forensics Laboratories administered by the FBI in San Diego, Orange County and the Silicon Valley.

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With this cornucopia of top agencies, it would bode well to complete a criminal justice degree in California as you can start to make connections and complete work terms in the same state you plan to work after graduation. Check the list of criminal justice schools in California for information on law enforcement, legal studies, court reporting, homeland security, counterterrorism, cyber security, information security, criminal justice, forensics, corrections and other relevant degrees.

California Criminal Justice Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, California is one of five states with the highest level of employment for the following careers: police or sheriff’s patrol officers, court reporters, legal arbitrators and mediators, judges and magistrates, lawyers, paralegals, correctional officers, probation officers, detectives and criminal investigators, fire inspectors and investigators, first-line supervisors of police and detectives, private detectives and investigators, security guards and transportation security screeners . Criminal justice schools in California offer educational programs that prepare candidates successfully for these occupations including law enforcement, court reporting, paralegal, legal studies, corrections, homeland security and other degrees or programs.

Criminal justice careers in California are also projected to show positive growth in the next decade. For example, according to Projections Central, police and sheriff’s patrol officers are expected to have 2,390 employment openings per year. Corrections officers and jailers are expected to have 1,190, detectives and criminal investigators 490, first-line supervisors of police and detectives 290, lawyers 2,360 and paralegals 870 new jobs per year.

Top Criminal Justice Employers & Agencies

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office and the Los Angeles Police Department are among California’s top 15 employers with 20,000 and almost 10,000 personnel respectively, according to Career One Stop. This supports projected employment growth for police officers, sheriff’s deputies, police department supervisors and detectives within California. If you are interested in this career path and are pursuing a criminal justice degree in California, it would be wise to start with a law enforcement or similar degree. Most departments require entry-level officers to have a minimum of an associate level degree.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation administers the largest state prison system in the country. According to its 2010 annual report, the department had a total of 66,000 employees during its 2009-10 fiscal year. Naturally, some of these employees fill the role of correctional officers, probation and parole officers and correctional treatment specialists. If this area of the criminal justice system interests you, check out the list of criminal justice schools in California for corrections, law enforcement, human services, psychology or other degrees.

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If you are tech-savvy, perhaps a career with one of California’s Regional Computer Forensics Laboratories is more your style. Experts at each of these FBI labs across the country assist with criminal investigations related to terrorism, child pornography, fraud and other crimes by analyzing digital evidence. In this case, an information security, cyber security or computer forensics degree would be essential.

California Criminal Justice & Legal Job Outlook & California Criminal Justice Salary

CareerEmployment Growth through 2018Current Average Salary
Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers7%$75,000 – 79,000
First-line Supervisors of Police and Detectives6%$100,000 – 123,000+
Correctional Officers and Jailers5%

$60,000 – 67,000

Court Reporters81%$78,000 – 82,000
Detectives and Criminal Investigators17%$83,000 – 107,000
Private Detectives and Investigators15%$50,000 – 60,000+
Paralegals and Legal Assistants19%

$51,000 – 66,000


$130,000 – 162,000+

Sources: Growth Projections ~ Salary Range

California Crime Rate

Although the National Institute of Corrections states that overall California’s crime rate was 4% lower compared to the rest of the country in 2010, its violent crime rate was 21% higher. In fact, according to the CQ Press‘ 2010 State Crime Report, California ranked 15th place in terms of the most crimes when analyzing occurrences of assault, rape, murder, burglary, robbery and motor vehicle theft. Californi ranked third place as having the most problems with motor vehicle theft. The FBI reported over 152,500 motor vehicle theft (or 409/100,000 people) in 2010.

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The FBI has also identified Los Angeles as being one of the country’s major cities with gang problems. The Federal Bureau of Investigation states that Asian gangs are prevalent in the Californian city. In 1994, the FBI established an investigative squad to target Eurasian gangs in Los Angeles; a similar squad was also set up in San Francisco the following year.

California’s Correctional System Stats

FacilityNumber of Facilities & OfficesNumber of Inmates
Prisons33 state prisonsalmost 170,000
Probation & Parole58 agencies418,000+


Degrees by State