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Arizona Criminal Justice Programs

Arizona recently implemented training procedures for all police officers and recruits to help them spot mental health crises when they arise—bringing the field of law enforcement up to speed with developing research on de-escalation and community engagement. As a student of criminal justice in Arizona, developments like these will likely be at the forefront of your studies and practice.

A degree in criminal justice equips you with relevant, timely knowledge and skills that you can use to embark on an incredible variety of careers. Whether you’re interested in border or state highway patrol, criminal litigation in courtrooms, or counseling offenders on parole, the criminal justice field is vast, diverse, and evolving.

Criminal Justice Careers in Arizona

The American criminal justice system is made up of three branches: law enforcement, the courts, and corrections. These branches work together to control and prevent crime, punish those who commit crimes, and offer correctional and rehabilitation services to offenders. Read on to learn more about each branch of the criminal justice system, careers within them, and the outlooks for those professions.

Arizona Law Enforcement Careers

The law enforcement branch of the criminal justice system is comprised of police officers, sheriffs, private detectives, and others. These individuals keep communities safe by responding to complaints and emergency calls, apprehending and arresting criminal suspects, and  conducting investigations.

Below are sample jobs within the law enforcement branch of criminal justice, along with their career outlook and median salary in the state of Arizona.

CareerCareer OutlookAnnual Median Salary
Police officers+7%$65,220
Private detectives and investigators+10%$52,060

All data from CareerOneStop.

Arizona’s Courts System and Related Careers

The court system is where legal cases are heard before a judge and, sometimes, a jury. Local, state, and federal courts hear different types and degrees of cases, and various career paths fulfill different needs within the court systems. Paralegals and legal assistants are critical members of the courts, providing support to attorneys, judges, and clients; they work across a variety of court experiences. Prosecutors are lawyers who assess and present evidence to a judge. The career of a prosecutor can be a highly skilled and rewarding one.

Opportunities for careers in the courtroom are predicted to increase significantly increase in the future, and salaries are competitive.

CareerCareer OutlookAnnual Median Salary
Paralegals and legal assistants+21%$46,520

All data from CareerOneStop.

Jobs in Arizona’s Corrections System

Corrections is the branch of the criminal justice system tasked with seeing through the sentences given to legal offenders. Inside correctional facilities such as prisons or jails, correctional officers monitor the activity of inmates to ensure their safety and that of other employees. Outside correctional facilities, probation officers monitor offenders who were not incarcerated but required to meet certain conditions such as performing community service and appearing in court at specified times. Professionals such as correctional counselors work to help rehabilitate criminal offenders and smooth their transition back into society.

CareerCareer OutlookAnnual Median Salary
Correctional officers and jailers–5%$43,110
Probation officers+9%$53,010

All data from CareerOneStop.

Criminal Justice Education Resources in Arizona

You can find information about how to pursue some of the careers in criminal justice by going to the following state resources.

  • Correctional officer: Arizona Department of Corrections Rehabilitation and Reentry
    This state resource guides you through the process of applying to become a correctional officer in the state of Arizona. It also provides a link to the Arizona job listing website.
  • Police officer: Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board (AZPOST)
    To become a police officer, or peace officer, in the state of Arizona, you will need to apply directly to the agency that’s hiring. Although each hiring agency may opt for stricter hiring preferences, AZPOST sets the minimum standard for peace officer qualifications. Check out the website to learn more about these qualifications and police training programs.
  • Highway patrol officer: Arizona Department of Public Safety
    A highway patrol officer, or state trooper, is a fully certified law enforcement officer who patrols highways, enforces laws, investigates incidents, and ensures the safety of the highways. This resource provides everything you need to know about becoming a state trooper in Arizona, including information about salary and benefits.
  • Probation officer: Arizona Judicial Branch
    To become a probation officer in Arizona, you need to be certified through the Committee on Probation Education (COPE). This agency provides the necessary training through programs such as the Probation Certification Academy and Intensive Probation Institute.

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Main Criminal Justice Governmental Agencies and Entities in Arizona

All three branches of criminal justice have state agencies that regulate and oversee the policies and professionals in that branch. As with the three branches themselves, many of these organizations work with each other to ensure that the criminal justice system in Arizona is effective and efficient.

  • Attorney General’s Office: The attorney general is the chief legal officer of the state of Arizona. The office provides legal advice to state agencies, handles felony case appeals, enforces civil rights laws, and prosecutes financial crimes. The office hires employees such as assistant attorney generals for divisions like child and family protection, civil litigation, and criminal litigation; paralegals and legal assistants; and special agents.
  • Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation, & Reentry: This agency is responsible for overseeing all facets of corrections, including managing state prisons, regulating the training and hiring of corrections officers, and implementing programs to support both staff and offenders.
  • Criminal Justice Commission: The ACJC addresses, improves, sustains, and enhances public safety in the state through the coordination of criminal justice programs. Staff provide support to over 400 statewide criminal justice agencies on topics that include drugs, gangs, victim compensation, forensics, and state policy development.
  • Department of Homeland Security: The AZDOHS is a state agency aimed at protecting the state through prevention of terrorist attacks, enhancing border security, maintaining cybersecurity efforts, building resiliency, and more. As a state agency, AZDOHS hires employees through the state employment portal, which lists any current openings in the division.
  • Department of Juvenile Corrections: The ADJC provides supervision, rehabilitation, treatment, and education to youth who have been adjudicated in Arizona as delinquent. It also maintains a secure care facility for the custody of juveniles who pose a threat to public safety. The ADJC offers employment opportunities that include youth corrections officers, parole officers, and rehabilitation specialists.
  • Peace Officer Standards and Training Board: The AZPOST sets the minimum standards for the selection, recruitment, retention, and training of peace officers in Arizona. It currently provides its services to more than 160 law enforcement agencies employing more than 14,000 peace officers in the state. AZPOST maintains an updated listing of peace-officer employment opportunities across Arizona.
  • Prosecuting Attorneys’ Advisory Council: APAAC coordinates and provides training and education services to more than 800 state, county, and municipal prosecutors. It also offers services like legal research, trial preparation, and amicus brief coordination. In addition to supporting prosecutors across the state, APAAC employs individuals in the roles of attorneys, paralegals and legal assistants, administrative professionals, and victim advocates.

Resources for Criminal Justice Students and Professionals in Arizona

Whether you are a student or already working in criminal justice, it’s important to find resources that can help you stay informed and become connected with others in your field. Below are some organizations that represent and advocate for a variety of areas in criminal justice.

  • Arizona Police Association: The Arizona Police Association is a member organization of police associations, offering legislative advocacy, social events, and community discounts for members.
  • Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police: This association works to promote cooperation and coordination between public and private organizations on behalf of Arizona law enforcement officers.
  • Arizona Fraternal Order of Police: The AZFOP works to improve the working conditions of law enforcement officers through education, legislation, and community engagement.
  • Arizona Paralegal Association: The APA, the largest paralegal association in Arizona, promote professional development through ongoing education, networking, certification programs, and community service opportunities.
  • Arizona Corrections Association: ACA is a membership organization that aims to improve the quality of working experiences for corrections officers, promote the interests of its members, and foster camaraderie.
  • Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice: AACJ is a statewide not-for-profit membership organization of criminal defense lawyers designed to protect the rule of law, improve the professional status of lawyers, and engage in activities on a local, state, and national level.
  • Arizona Association of Licensed Private Investigators: AALPI serves its private investigator members by advocating for reasonable legislation and regulations, promoting the highest standards of practice, and fostering mutual trust.
  • Southwestern Association of Forensic Scientists: SWAFS offers forensic scientists a place to exchange resources and best practices, conduct research, and stay on top of news and developments in the field.