Criminal Justice/Criminalistics/Law Enforcement

AWARD OFFERED Associate in Applied Science Degree

Admission Requirements and Curriculum

Police officers and detectives maintain law and order, collect evidence and information, and conduct investigations and surveillance. Wallace State provides law enforcement officers the necessary skills to conduct routine investigations. There is emphasis in forensic science and criminalistics, with special emphasis placed upon laboratory practices used to develop investigative evidence. Graduates go on to careers in such jobs as police officer, game warden, corrections officer or probation officer. Some jobs require a four-year degree, but a two-year associate’s degree is all that is required at many police departments.

Forensic science technicians investigate crimes by collecting and analyzing physical evidence. Often, they specialize in areas such as DNA analysis or firearm examination. When criminal cases come to trial, forensic science technicians may give testimony on specific laboratory findings by identifying and classifying substances, materials, and other evidence collected at the scene of a crime.

Law enforcement agencies are encouraging applicants to take postsecondary school training in law enforcement-related subjects. Many junior colleges, colleges, and universities offer programs in law enforcement or administration of justice. Other courses helpful in preparing for a career in law enforcement include accounting, finance, electrical engineering, computer science, and foreign languages.

Prospective forensic science technicians can acquire good career preparation through two-year formal training. Many employers prefer applicants who have at least two years of specialized training or an associate’s degree. A number of two-year associate’s degree programs are designed to provide easy transfer to a four-year college or university.

The opportunity for public service through law enforcement work is attractive to many because the job is challenging and involves much personal responsibility. Applicants with college training in police science, military police experience, or both should have the best opportunities.

Jobs for forensic science technicians are expected to increase much faster than average. Jobseekers who have gone on to earn a four-year degree in a forensic science will enjoy better opportunities than those with a two-year degree. Median annual earnings for police officers were $56,980 per year in in May 2012. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Bob Howell, Department Chair