Because of its territory status, Puerto Rico has many of the same legal and justice procedures as the United States. Perhaps due to its bustling tourism industry, however, Puerto Rico is also one of the most dangerous tourism sites in the Western hemisphere.
Fox News Latino reports that there were 13 murders in Puerto in the first five days of 2014, contributing to the territory's incredibly high homicide rate. In fact, the homicide rate in Puerto Rico is higher than the rate of any place in the United States. Combine that with an uptick in drug transit, changes in the police department, and a bad economy, and it is clear that Puerto Rico is in need of a strong, consistent criminal justice system. In response, the Justice Department has pledged $10 million to Puerto Rico to improve the state of its police department.
Criminal Justice Education in Puerto Rico
Criminal justice is an exciting and dynamic field, and you can become part of it at CriminalJusticePrograms.com. Check out our list of featured schools to find a program in your area that can help you reach your career goals.
Most criminal justice programs in Puerto Rico follow a similar structure. Early in your criminal justice education, you take introductory courses in various criminal justice fields. As you proceed in your program, you build on that knowledge by learning more about each different field. While class names vary between schools, you can generally expect to complete coursework in the following areas:
- Criminal Law and Procedure
- Court Procedures
During your early courses, you may find a particular subject or field that really triggers your interest. Keep this in mind, since many criminal justice programs require you to choose a specialized area of study. You may be able to focus on one of the areas listed above, in addition to narrower fields like Internet crime, identity theft, and violent crimes.
Toward the end of your degree, you may get the chance to complete an internship. In fact, some schools require an internship! As you choose an internship, you should keep in mind your future career goals, since many internships turn into full-time jobs after graduation.
There are several school-funded scholarships. It would also be helpful to look into federally funded financial aid as well.
Learn more about scholarships in criminal justice by exploring our financial aid resources page.
Outlook for Criminal Justice in Puerto Rico
As you begin your career in Puerto Rico, you are joining over 63,000 people that work in the criminal justice field in this territory. Career options vary, depending on your education and experience, but there are certain jobs that are always in-demand in this area.
Far and away, the most in-demand criminal justice jobs in Puerto Rico are for security guards and police officers. Together, they make up 48,000 of the territory's 63,000 criminal justice jobs. You may be asked to work a variety of hours for these positions, depending on whether or not it is tourist season. O*Net reports that the average salary for a security guard is $17,700 per year. They note that the average salary for a police officer is $27,500 per year (O*Net, 2012).
While not as in-demand as police officers and security guards, jailers and police supervisors make up a good portion of criminal justice workers in Puerto Rico. You may be able to get an entry-level position as a jailer. However, in order to work as a police supervisor, you will likely need experience working as a police officer in Puerto Rico. Average salaries for jailers and police supervisors are $26,400 per year and $33,200 per year, respectively (O*Net, 2012).
Do you want to serve your community and improve your career prospects at the same time? Contact our featured schools to find out how you can start earning your criminal justice degree.