Oklahoma is located in the south-central United States and has a population of approximately 3.7 million. The capital and largest city is Oklahoma City. This is where you will find the majority of the state's post-secondary institutions. There are plenty of state parks in Oklahoma, and fishing, camping and hiking are popular outdoor activities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), around 7,700 people work as police officers or sheriff's deputies, with another 11,800 people working as security guards, which combined account for more than half of the protective services occupations in Oklahoma. There are also a number of federal and state law enforcement agencies that hire correctional officers, probation and parole officers and crime scene technicians as well.
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Major Oklahoma Cities
Criminal Justice Education in Oklahoma
Before working in one of these occupations, many individuals often first study criminal justice at one of the numerous colleges located in the Sooner State. In all, there are 33 different institutions that offer a criminal justice education, including Bacone College in Muskogee, Caddo Kiowa Technology Center in Fort Cobb, and Brown Mackie College in Tulsa. Caddo Kiowa College and Central Technology Center in Drumright both offer career certificates in law enforcement, while other schools offer everything from an associate's degree to doctorate degrees.
When pursing a criminal justice degree, foundational courses in math and science will normally be required before taking career-specific classes. A few of the classes that might be required are:
- Police Writing
- Jail Procedures
- Information Systems Security
- Courts and Criminal Procedures
- Race, Class and Gender
- Legal Research
- Police Ethics
- Crime and Victims
- Cyber Crime
Many of these courses will require students to perform cases studies on notorious crimes, or conduct their own research as to why certain types of crimes happen. Writing reports will become a regular routine in order to prepare individuals for the type of work they will perform later.
Financial aid programs specific to Oklahoma include the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant, the Oklahoma Equalization Grant and the Oklahoma Higher Education Access Program. If you need additional funding, you can always look into federal programs. Many schools also offer institution-specific scholarships, some for criminal justice majors.
Learn more about scholarships in criminal justice by exploring our financial aid resources page.
Outlook for Criminal Justice in Oklahoma
Of the many occupations in the protective services field, you'll likely find better opportunities if you have a degree in criminal justice. Oklahoma has a number of state agencies that hire police officers, including the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, the Attorney General of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs, the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy, and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. Individuals can even branch out and become conservation officers, working for either the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation or the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation.
Each of Oklahoma's 77 counties operates its own sheriff's department, and all of them have a need for patrol officers and detectives. In addition, there are numerous city police departments, college police departments, and tribal agencies as well. Larger city departments such as Oklahoma City and Tulsa have numerous opportunities for one to advance to police detective after gaining three to five years of practical experience.
Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security have field offices here as well. These agencies often work hand in hand with city or tribal agencies in order to keep citizens of a particular area safe. Those who are hired by these agencies must pass a background check and undergo written and physical fitness testing beforehand.
Below are some of the most common salaries for Oklahoma criminal justice careers, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 data.
If you're ready to make a difference in the criminal justice field, contact our featured schools to learn more about their programs!