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Florida Criminal Justice Programs

With a budget of $2.4 billion in 2019, Florida’s correctional system is the third largest in the U.S. Because of this, thousands of qualified criminal justice professionals are needed to fill myriad roles across the industry.
Fortunately, criminal justice colleges in Florida are up to the challenge of preparing the next generation of workers. You can find online and in-person degrees at every level, with specializations in areas such as forensic science, criminology, homeland security, and crime scene investigation.

Criminal Justice Careers in Florida

Criminal justice is a system in which three branches—law enforcement, the courts, and corrections—work together. Each area has a different role and unique career opportunities. Following are descriptions of job opportunities in each branch, with career outlook and salary provided for more common positions.

Law Enforcement Careers in Florida

Those in law enforcement are charged with ensuring that people follow the law and with intervening in situations where they do not. Police officers, detectives, forensic scientists, and criminologists all contribute to dealing with those involved in a crime.

CareerCareer OutlookAnnual Median Salary
Police officers+13%$57,320
Private detectives and investigators+15%$36,570

All data from O*Net

Careers in the Florida Court System

Once suspects have been apprehended, the courts take over. Judges often conduct preliminary hearings to determine whether a case should go to trial. If it does, prosecutors and other lawyers, paralegals, bailiffs, and expert witnesses become involved.

CareerCareer OutlookAnnual Median Salary
Paralegals and legal assistants+21%$47,550

All data from O*Net

Corrections Careers in Florida

Careers in corrections aren’t just inside Florida’s prisons. More and more in Florida and elsewhere the trend is to incarcerate fewer people and find alternatives for monitoring them and helping them succeed in society. Correctional officers and jailers typically work within prisons. Correctional counselors might work either in or out of the prison system. Probation officers generally work outside the system with both those who have not spent time in prison and those who have.

CareerCareer OutlookAnnual Median Salary
Correctional officers and jailers–6%$37,920
Probation officers+4%$32,880

All data from O*Net

Criminal Justice Education Resources in Florida

Depending on which area of criminal justice you want to work in, you can find state agencies that provide education information and often job listings. Although there are many more resources than just state agencies, they are often a good place to start.

  • Corrections: Florida Department of Corrections
    Careers include correctional officer, probation officer, correctional counselor.
    The website provides information on internships, how to apply, benefits, and career paths.
  • Police Officers, Criminal Investigators, Forensic Scientists: Florida Department of Law Enforcement
    The site provides information about jobs in five categories: executive direction and business support, criminal investigations and forensic science, criminal justice information, criminal justice professionalism, and Florida Capitol Police.
    Users can view current job vacancies, learn about eligibility requirements, and receive instructions on applying.
    The commission within this department that oversees the training of police is the Criminal Justice Standards & Training Commission.
  • Highway Patrol Officers: Florida Highway Patrol
    Careers available are state trooper and dispatcher.
    Information on the site includes career descriptions, available jobs, and details about the FHP training academy.
  • Justice System: Department of Justice – Middle District of Florida
    Careers available include trial attorney, deputy attorney general, and paralegals.
    Aside from reviewing current openings for attorneys, support staff, and law students, users can find information on security requirements and application instructions.

Innovations in Criminal Justice in Florida

When working in the criminal justice system in Florida, it’s important to stay abreast of how new laws passed by the Florida or U.S. legislature affect the work you do.

Some of the new laws passed in the Florida State Legislature in 2019 include:

  • Individuals now have five days (rather than 72 hours) to report a crime, ensuring law enforcement professionals have more time to work with victims to decide whether to press charges.
  • Based on the particular offense, prosecutors are no longer required to immediately move 16- and 17-year-old suspects into the criminal justice system. This could provide more job opportunities for those interested in juvenile justice.

If you want to learn more about ongoing legislature and movements to reform the criminal justice system in the Sunshine State, visit the Florida Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform.

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Main Criminal Justice Governmental Agencies and Entities in Florida

  • Office of the Attorney General: This office handles issues around antitrust, civil litigation, consumer protection, fraud, criminal appeals, and many other important topics.
  • Florida Department of Corrections: The FDOC oversees all governmental corrections institutions throughout the state while also managing probationary services.
  • Florida Courts: The Florida Court System comprises the FL Supreme Court, 20 circuit courts, 67 county courts, and five courts of appeal.
  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement: The FDLE works in tandem with other local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies to prevent corruption, investigate ongoing cases, solve crimes, and protect Floridians. The department currently employs 1,900 professionals as police officers, investigators, private detectives, criminologists, and crime scene investigators/forensics specialists.

Resources for Criminal Justice Students and Professionals in Florida

Whether you’re still in school or an industry veteran, joining a professional criminal justice association in Florida can help you build connections, find scholarships, search for jobs, and provide opportunities for lifelong learning.

  • Florida Police Chiefs Association: The third-largest professional organization for state police chiefs in the nation, FPCA supports members by providing access to training and conferences, legislative advocacy, the Stars Program, a jobs board, and police testing programs.
  • Florida Police Benevolent Association: PBA members can take advantage of industry news, events, legal services, and other benefits throughout the year.
  • Florida Sheriffs Association: In existence since 1893, the FSA is one of the oldest groups in the nation dedicated to supporting sheriffs. The group provides a job board, sheriff directory, affinity programs, training programs, e-learning, legislative research, scholarships, and youth programming.
  • Florida Association of Community Corrections: Since 1992, the FACC has served as the voice of county probation program employees. The group facilitates community, offers training programs, and maintains a county probation directory.
  • Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers: Visiting the FCCC website can help you learn about clerk duties and services while also taking advantage of events, conferences, publications, an e-newsletter, and relevant news.
  • Judicial Assistants Association of Florida: JAAF serves judicial assistants throughout the state by offering an annual conference, professional training events, videos, a podcast, and awards.
  • The Florida Bar: Aside from approving new qualified legal candidates, the Florida Bar offers board certification, a leadership academy, committees, and information on the various Florida court systems.