Criminal Justice Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are there age, height, or gender limitations in criminal justice careers?
Agencies are interested in abilities, rather than arbitrary standards. However, the Federal government is allowed to set a maximum age for law enforcement applicants, usually 35 or 37 years old. Local and state agencies cannot discriminate on age, so long as the applicant is at least 21-years-old and can meet the physical ability standards of the agency.
There is no height requirement except to be of a size that allows the applicant to meet all critical tasks of the position. Some agencies do use proportionate height/weight standards as part of their fitness standards.
There are no gender limitations, except for agencies that assign only female staff members to supervise female inmates in a correction facility. In most male correction facilities, both female and male corrections officers work within the institution.
Are there criminal justice careers that do not require being a peace officer?
The traditional positions of police officer, deputy sheriff, highway patrol trooper, detective, FBI, Secret Service, and Drug Enforcement Administration special agent, criminal investigator, probation officer, corrections officer, and parole agent normally require peace officer standing.
There are positions within the criminal justice profession that do not require peace officer status: deputy district attorney, assistant city attorney, assistant U.S. attorney, public defender, 911 emergency dispatcher, federal and state drug diversion investigator, intelligence specialist, police analyst, forensic technician, crime scene analyst, deputy coroner-investigator, child protective services investigator, private investigators, private and corporate security, bail enforcement agent, private corporations' juvenile advisors, probation and corrections officers, insurance investigators, sheriff's support specialists, police assistants, and evidence custodians.
Can I be granted college credit for criminal justice or military training?
TMCC students may submit criminal justice training certificates for case-by-case review. Certificates need to be for actual instruction and not just attendance at a law enforcement conference. A minimum of 15 hours of instruction is required for one credit hour.
TMCC will review DANTES and ACE recommendations and apply appropriate courses and credits toward the student's transcript.
Can I challenge a course without doing the course work?
TMCC has a number of courses that may be challenged without actually attending the course. Some of these are through nationally recognized exams like CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) exams. Some TMCC departments, including criminal justice, allow challenge exams for specific courses. The admissions and records office can advise students about which courses are currently available for national and department challenge exams. Up to 15 credits may be earned through challenge exams.
Can I earn a second associate degree at TMCC?
Some students elect to earn a second associate degree at TMCC, because they want an AAS in law enforcement and an AA in criminal justice or an AAS in investigations and an AA in business. Dual degrees may be earned subsequently or simultaneously and require 15 credits beyond the first degree for a total of at least 75 credits with 30 credits earned in residence at TMCC.
Can I perform an internship in criminal justice?
Students in the last semester of their criminal justice degree may participate in CRJ 290B, Internship, with a cooperating criminal justice agency subject to available space. Students cannot be guaranteed an internship with a specific agency. Students are the guests of the agencies and must meet all rules-dress code, confidentiality, and schedule and pass an agency's background investigation. Permission to perform an internship is revocable by the cooperating agency at anytime. See class schedule.
Can I receive any college credit for my work completed at a police academy?
TMCC students who successfully completed the equivalent of a basic category one peace officer academy after October 1973 may be granted eight elective credits. TMCC students who successfully completed the equivalent of a basic category one peace officer academy prior to 1973 may be granted four elective credits and an additional four credits for an intermediate peace officer certificate.
Can I transfer with my associate's degree and continue with my bachelor's degree?
TMCC is an accredited college, and courses may be transferred to other institutions of higher education. The associate of arts degrees are specifically designed to transfer seamlessly to the University of Nevada-Reno's bachelor of arts degree in criminal justice. TMCC classes also transfer to other two- and four-year institutions including, but not limited to, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Nevada State College, the California State University and University of California systems, University of Phoenix, and other state and private colleges.
Care should be taken when selecting courses and degree programs as different institutions may limit the total number of courses transferred from a two-year institution. Also, some classes may not apply to another college's degree program and will only serve as an elective rather than a required course.
Can I use a Governor Guinn Millennium Scholarship, Pell grants, scholarships, or get financial aid at TMCC?
Yes, TMCC has a financial aid office with advisors who will assist you in obtaining and maximizing financial aid.
Do I need to take a foreign language as a degree requirement for criminal justice?
There is a foreign language requirement for the associate of arts degrees, but not for the associate of applied science degrees. The bachelor's degree in criminal justice at UNR also requires a foreign language.
Does TMCC offer day, night, cablecast, and online Criminal Justice courses?
TMCC provides both day and evening classes and with distance educations methods like online and cablecast classes. See class schedule.
Does TMCC offer seven different associate's degrees in criminal justice?
Effective in the fall 2003 semester, TMCC has three options for associate of arts (AA) degrees and four associate of applied science (AAS) degrees. These choices allow students to customize their college education and reach their career goals. See catalog worksheets.
The associate of arts degrees are designed as transfer degrees for students who plan to continue their education and earn bachelors degrees. These AA degrees are great choices for students who seek positions as federal special agents, investigators, law enforcement supervisors, adult or juvenile probation officers, attorneys, police officers, deputy sheriffs, and detectives.
There are three options: criminal justice, pre-law, and community policing and problem solving. All three of the AA degrees articulate and transfer to UNR.
The AAS degrees are designed as practitioner degrees, and they are great choices for students who want to maximize practical knowledge in law enforcement skills or for active duty law enforcement professionals to enhance their expertise. These are great choices for student seeking positions that do not require a bachelor's degree, such as police officers, deputy sheriff, detective, deputy U.S. marshal, air marshal, child abuse investigator U.S. Customs marine, deputy coroner, youth advisor, canine, or air enforcement officers, gaming control agent, U.S. Border Patrol agent, or arson investigator. There are four degree emphases: law enforcement, juvenile justice, investigations, and corrections/probation.
How long will it take me to complete a criminal justice degree?
Associate's degrees are traditionally referred to as two-year degrees. If you are a full-time student who takes 15 credits each semester, you can graduate in two years. However, courses may also be taken on a part-time basis over a longer period of time.
Is TMCC an accredited college?
Truckee Meadows Community College is fully accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges and is an institution in the Nevada System of Higher Education.
May I take criminal justice courses without being a CRJ major?
Students enrolled in many different major programs take criminal justice classes. Students in counseling, journalism, sciences, art, and other majors take criminal justice classes as social science electives or because of personal interest in areas like criminal law, crime scene photography, policing techniques, or forensic investigation.
What background qualifications do criminal justice agencies require?
The requirements vary from agency to agency, but some general standards are listed below.
- 21-year-old for a sworn peace officer position.
- U.S. citizen.
- Able to meet job-related physical ability tests, including sprints and runs within specific times; a number of push-up and sit-ups in a set time; scaling a wall or fence; vertical jump tests; handgrip strength; bending or dragging or carrying of an weighted mannequin.
- Visual and hearing acuity. Agencies may or may not accept radial keratotomy or similar surgery. Agencies may not accept candidates with color blindness or hearing loss requiring a hearing aid.
- Medical examination by department's physician. Soon medical conditions, like epilepsy or diabetes or example, may be disqualifying for certain agencies.
- Drug Screening. Some agencies disqualify candidates with specific illicit drug use conduct ("hard drugs," injected substances including steroids, or hallucinogens) while others have a set time period, such as five years, since the candidate's last use of an illicit drug. This criteria can include the use of prescription medication by a person for whom the medicine was not prescribed.
- Background Investigation. Applicants normally sign a waiver allowing agencies to contact past employers, landlords, teachers, spouses, neighbors, co-workers, creditors, friends, and family to conduct complete interviews about the applicant's fitness for a position in law enforcement. Past juvenile and military records are apart of this investigation as well as financial history. Candidates will not be accepted if they are an ex-felon or convicted of domestic violence. While a perfect past is not necessary, the investigation is seeking to discover the applicant's honesty, integrity, and true character.
- Written exam. Applicants are normally required to take a competitive written exam inquiring about general knowledge, demonstrating reading and writing skills, and testing comprehension. The test results are normally contribute substantially to the applicant's final numerical ranking.
- Oral exams. Applicants are normally required to be interviewed in front of a panel to determine the candidate's ability to think on one's feet, presence, confidence, and verbal communication skills.
- Polygraph or Voice Stress analyzer. Applicants are normally required to submit to a "lie detector" type of examination addressing honesty issues in the background investigation.
- Psychological Screening. Most applicant undergo a psychological examination to ensure mental fitness for duty as a peace officer.
What careers require attendance at a police academy?
Almost all law enforcement, criminal investigator, probation, corrections officers are sworn peace officer who are required to successfully complete an academy. The general rule of thumb is "If it is a government employee who has the legal authority and responsibility to make arrests, carry a firearm, obtain and serve search and arrest warrants is a peace officer," the position requires peace officer status, academy training, and being able to meet all physical and background investigation standards.
What criminal justice courses should I start with first?
All of the degrees require CRJ 101, Introduction to Criminal Justice I, and CRJ 102, Introduction to Criminal Justice II. These courses would be a great place to start because they offer an overview to the entire criminal justice system. English 101 is also a good first semester course because it helps you polish your writing skills for these and future courses.
What do I do if I don't want an entire degree?
Yes, there is a one-year certificate of achievement that may be completed en route to an associate's degree or as a stand-alone college certificate. See catalog worksheets.
What if I am interested in a career as an attorney?
There are several possible pre-law majors, as law schools accept any bachelor's degree preceding law school. If a student planned to specialize in corporate law, a degree in business or accounting may be preferred. A degree in English or philosophy is often cited as a good general foundation for law school. Another pre-law option is a criminal justice degree. TMCC offers an AA in criminal justice with a pre-law option that will transfer to UNR's bachelor of art in criminal justice pre-law option. If you are just curious about a career in law, CRJ 125 Legal Careers and Law Schools would be a great introductory course.
What if I am interested in a career in adult probation or corrections?
Adult probation and parole in Nevada is performed by the Nevada Division of Parole and Probation. In California and most other states, probation is conducted by the county courts and parole is usually performed by the state department of corrections. At the federal level, each U.S. District Court has its own probation office for federal offenders serving probation. Most of these positions require at least a bachelor's degree. Parole agents and probation officers are normally peace officers and are required to successfully pass an intensive background investigation and complete a law enforcement academy.
Correction is conducted at the federal, state, county, and local levels of government. There are city and county jails and detentions centers, state prisons, and federal prisons. Jailers and correctional officers are usually peace officers (exception those who are employed by private corrections corporations) and are required to successfully pass an intensive background investigation and complete a correctional academy.
Listed below are the link to few local, state, and federal probation, parole, and correctional agencies.
What if I am interested in a career in investigations or forensics?
Criminal investigation agencies hire periodically and in most cases one cannot simply walk in and submit an application. The agency often needs to be actively recruiting in order to obtain an application. The newspaper, "Job Hot Lines," and agency Web sites are the best sources of information. Please note that some agencies require different educational level (high school diploma, number of college credits, associate degree, bachelor degree, graduate or professional degree), fitness, physical abilities, and background standards. Detectives, criminal investigators, special agents, gaming control agents are peace officers and are required to successfully pass an intensive background investigation and complete a law enforcement academy.
There are some non-sworn investigative positions in the criminal justice field. Coroner and death investigators are frequently (but not always) peace officers. Child protective services agencies have child abuse investigators who are not peace officers. Many regulatory agencies have civil investigators to enforce non-criminal violations, such as code violations, health infractions, and business offenses.
While there is currently a great deal of interest in the field of forensic investigations, positions in that area are relatively rare compared to traditional law enforcement. In many criminal justice agencies, forensic investigators are veteran police officers or detectives who are assigned to crime scene investigation units. These investigators may have waited years for the internal transfer or promotion to forensic investigations. In other agencies, forensic technician are civilian technicians who are hired specifically for their crime scene investigation skills. Criminalists, the scientists who perform elaborate testing in the lab, most often remain in the lab and hold advanced degrees in specialties like biochemistry.
The Washoe County Crime Lab and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Criminalistics Bureau offer two examples of forensic units. The Washoe County Crime Lab provides major crime scene investigation for the northern half of Nevada and part of northern California. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office has about 740 employees and the crime lab has eight sworn forensic investigators and civilian forensic technicians. The forensic investigators are normally sworn deputy sheriffs who were promoted from within the sheriff's office. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has about 4500 employees and their Criminalistics Bureau handles the southern part of Nevada with 36 civilian crime scene analysts. Other law enforcement agencies have police officers or civilian police technicians who perform routine crime scene investigation as a collateral part of their regular duties.
Listed below are the link to few local, state, and federal investigative agencies.
What if I am interested in a career in juvenile probation or juvenile justice?
Juvenile probation is most often performed at the county level, and youth parole is usually conducted by the state. Most juvenile probation officers and parole agents are required to have at least a bachelor's degree. Juvenile parole agents and probation officers are usually peace officers and are required to successfully pass an intensive background investigation and complete a law enforcement academy.
Juvenile work supervisors, youth advisors, and juvenile correctional staff provide services to juveniles detained in detention facilities or while performing community service as a sanction to adjudicated delinquent acts. These positions usually do not require a bachelor's degree and may or may not be peace officers, which requires the successful completion of a law enforcement or correctional academy.
Listed below are the link to few local, state, and private juvenile probation, youth parole, and correctional agencies.
What if I am interested in a career in policing/law enforcement?
Law enforcement agencies hire periodically. Most commonly, one cannot just walk in and submit an application. The agency often needs to be actively recruiting in order to obtain an application. The newspaper, "Job Hot Lines," and agency Web sites are the best sources of information. Please note that some agencies require different educational levels (high school diploma, a set number of college credits, an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree, graduate or professional degree), fitness, physical abilities, and background standards. Police officers, deputy sheriffs, detectives, criminal investigators, special agents are peace officers and are required to successfully pass an intensive background investigation and complete a law enforcement academy.
Listed below are links to few local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
- Reno Police Department
- Sparks Police Department
- Henderson Police Department
- Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
- Washoe County Sheriff's Office
- Carson City Sheriff's Office
- Douglas County Sheriff's Office
- Nevada Gaming Control Board
- Nevada Highway Patrol
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- U.S. Secret Service
- U.S. Border Patrol
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- U.S. Customs Service
- Washoe County Child Protective Services
What if I want to be a detective without being a uniformed officer first?
In the vast majority of city and county law enforcement agencies, a person who wants to become a detective must first serve as a uniformed patrol officer, normally for three to five years. They become eligible to apply for investigative assignment as openings occur. In some agencies, a detective assignment is a rotational assignment and the detective will eventually be returned to uniformed patrol after a set amount of time, such as three to five years. In other agencies, detective is a competitive promotion in which the rank of detective is permanent, unless the detective seeks another promotion. These positions are offered to peace officers who are required to have successfully passed an intensive background investigation and completed a law enforcement academy.
There are agencies which are strictly investigative without a uniformed function. At the federal level, special agent positions (GS 1811 classification) are hired by the FBI, DEA, U.S. Secret Service, or U.S. Customs; these investigators remain investigators or supervisory investigators for their entire careers. These positions are offered to peace officers who are required to have successfully passed an intensive background investigation and completed a law enforcement academy. In almost all cases, special agent positions require at least a bachelor's degree.
At the state and local level, there are also investigative agencies whose entry-level position is as an investigator. The Nevada Division of Investigation, California Department of Justice, Nevada Gaming Control Board, or Nevada Attorney General investigators are examples of state investigative agencies. District Attorney investigators can be found at the county level. These positions are peace officers who are required to successfully pass an intensive background investigation and complete a law enforcement academy. Very often these investigators were recruited and hired because they already possessed extensive law enforcement or investigative experience prior to their appointment.
Often death investigators for coroner offices, child abuse investigators from child protective service agencies, business license and code investigators are not peace officers and do not require completion of a law enforcement academy.
Which degree is best for me?
Explore the degree worksheets to discover which degree most closely aligns with your individual goals. As a general rule consider that nearly all federal investigator positions (special agents for the FBI, DEA, U.S. Customs, IRS Criminal Investigations, U.S. Secret Service, etc.), adult and juvenile probation officers, and police administrator positions requires at least a bachelor degree. If you are interested in these kinds of positions, completing the Associate of Arts degree with the goal of transferring to a four year college is the best choice. See catalog worksheets.
Who are TMCC's criminal justice instructors?
TMCC has both full-time and part-time faculty. The criminal justice faculty consists of active duty and former chiefs of police, an undersheriff, law enforcement executive officers, federal agents, trial attorneys, adult and juvenile parole and probation officers, parole and probation administrators, a judge pro tem, a parole board member, detectives, forensic investigators, police officers, deputy sheriffs, and a highway patrol trooper from Nevada, California, and other states.
Why are there general education requirements in the criminal justice degrees?
One goal of an associate's degree in criminal justice is to produce well-rounded and broadly educated graduates for careers in criminal justice. This broad educational experience is one reason many criminal justice agencies require college degrees. Please exercise care in selecting your courses because the general education requirements for the associate of arts are different from those for the associate of applied science.
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