VC’s Criminal Justice Classes Offer Glimpse of Police Work

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by Eric Jensen

For those who possess a strong sense of duty, a clear head in urgent situations, and who enjoy working with the public, a career in law enforcement might be just the ticket.

Victoria College offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in criminal justice that prepares students for an entry-level position in the criminal justice field.

Before signing up for the first class, students interested in a career in law enforcement can get a glimpse of their future by watching a TV program.

“You can’t turn the television on any night of the week without seeing some type of detective drama,” said James Martinez, Criminal Justice Adjunct Instructor and Port Lavaca Police Chief. “These classes give students a glimpse of what police work is like, whether it’s at the patrol level, the investigator level, or the federal level.”

VC’s criminal justice coursework includes Fundamentals of Criminal Law, Court Systems and Practices, Texas Government, Federal Government, and Basic Counseling Skills.

All VC criminal justice classes are taught online.

Incoming freshmen are encouraged to take as many criminal justice courses and other classes as they can and then attend the Law Enforcement Academy during their last semester, Martinez said. If they decide not to go through the academy, students can earn an AAS degree and then have the option to transfer.

Martinez said the majority of VC’s criminal justice students will transfer to the University of Houston-Victoria or Sam Houston State University.

Kelly Phelps, Director of VC’s Public Service Academies, said police departments are always looking for new employees.

“There are hundreds of jobs out there for police officers,” Phelps said. “There are not enough police officers to fill the positions, so anyone who graduates is pretty much guaranteed a job.”

VC’s Law Enforcement Academy is an 18-week program that readies students to take the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement licensing exam. Upon passing the test, graduates are certified as a licensed Texas peace officer. The academy, which averages 18 students per enrollment class, has a 100 percent pass rate.

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Focus On:
Criminal Justice

What They Do:
Criminal justice professionals may work as law enforcement officers, corrections officers, probation officers, loss prevention specialists, and other similar positions.

How Much Does It Pay?
Police detectives: $36,000 to $79,000 annually
Police patrol officers: $33,000 to $61,000 annually
Probation and correctional treatment specialists: $29,000 to $60,000 annually
Correctional officers and jailers:
$30,000 to $47,000 annually

Job Outlook
In the Crossroads region, there are:

  • 193 police detectives, which is expected to increase by 5.2% over the next four years
  • 608 police patrol officers, which is expected to increase by 8.2% over the next four years
  • 62 probation officers and correctional treatment specialists, which is expected to increase by 8.1% over the next four years
  • 774 correctional officers and jailers, which is expected to increase by 7.1% over the next four years

Education & Training
Most law enforcement personnel have some college training, a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree. Victoria College offers the two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in criminal justice, which includes VC’s Law Enforcement Academy.
Source: emsi Career Coach 2014

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