When your state is listed as one of the most dangerous states in the entire country, there's no doubt that criminal justice is a very important field. 24/7 Wall Street reports that New Mexico is considered the 4th most dangerous state in the country, with a violent crime rate of 559.1 per 100,000 and the 4th highest property crimes rate in the country.
Unfortunately, in addition to property crime and violent crime, organized crime is spiking in the state. KRQE reports that out-of-state gangs are setting up shop in New Mexico, leading to an increase in property crimes, drug crimes, and violent crimes. As a result, the state may need to hire more police officers and organized crime experts.
Criminal Justice Education in New Mexico
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New Mexico schools aim to produce criminal justice graduates that are ready to work in any part of the justice process. This includes everything from reporting crimes and capturing suspects to testifying in the courtroom and working in jails. Since this field is so diverse, you need to complete a complex array of classes to earn a criminal justice degree. Your school may have its own specific class offerings, but you will probably have to take courses in the following areas while pursuing your criminal justice education:
- Policing Procedures
- Criminal Justice Ethics
You may want to set yourself ahead of your peers by specializing in an area of study or completing an internship. Many schools give you the opportunity to specialize in an area of study, like identity theft, juvenile crimes, or violent crimes. Internships, which allow you to work at a local criminal justice employer, can give you hands-on experience that will serve you well during your job search. If you want to specialize in an area of study, you may need to plan for this early on in your criminal justice education. Internships, on the other hand, are typically completed in your last year of school.
The College Affordability Grant, the New Mexico Student Incentive Grant and the Legislative Endowment Grant are good places to start looking for funding. If you plan on pursuing a criminal justice degree in New Mexico, you may also be able to find school-specific scholarships to help you financially.
Outlook for Criminal Justice in New Mexico
After graduating with an Associate's or Bachelor's degree in criminal justice, it's time to join the almost 24,000 protective service employees in New Mexico. Since many criminal justice jobs require on-the-job training or experience, you may need to start out with an entry-level job to gain experience. Police officer, jailer, and security guard positions are often staffed by new graduates.
After you have spent time in the justice system, learning all about its ins and outs, you may be able to pursue more prestigious job titles. Investigators, private detectives, and jail supervisors all generally need experience or special training to complete their job duties, and are often required to have a Bachelor's degree.
Below are the top criminal justice career paths, along with the New Mexico salaries found at The Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2014.
Are you ready to jump into the field of criminal justice and make your community a safer place? Contact one of our featured schools to find out how you can get started! Once you've contacted schools that interest you, click here to learn about available scholarships in criminal justice.