Criminal justice continues to be a burgeoning field for job seekers in the northern California area. From entry-level positions to upper-echelon careers, the industry offers a growing number of opportunities to residents of the Sacramento region.

While television shows and movies often showcase world-weary gumshoes, intrepid crime scene investigators and murderous mafioso, the real world of criminal justice is much wider.

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The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Prison Industry Authority are among the major criminal justice employers in Sacramento County, according to California’s Employment Development Department.

Correctional officers are always needed for facilities like the Folsom State Prison, and there are only a few initial qualifications for these entry level positions. Healthy U.S. citizens with a high school diploma or GED are eligible to apply. To be considered, they must have no felony convictions and be able to legally possess a firearm.

Once hired for the position, new correctional officers complete 16 weeks of training at the CDCR Training Academy located in Galt, a southern suburb of Sacramento. After being assigned to an adult correctional facility, the officers participate in a structured two-year apprenticeship program.

The need for peace officers dovetails with other fields of employment within correctional institutions. Job seekers will find continual openings in prisons and jails for food service, laundry, janitorial, educational, physical health and mental health.

The Sacramento Police and Sacramento County Sheriff departments regularly recruit for 911 dispatchers and other related support positions as well as for both sworn and non-sworn officers. Sworn officers have a gun, a badge and the lawful right to arrest.

As with correctional officers, the hiring qualifications for police officer and sheriff positions are not extensive, but a significant amount of subsequent training is required. New hires must complete the P.O.S.T. Basic Police Academy and receive other specialized training and supervision.

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Private security and loss prevention are also expanding fields in the Sacramento region. Only one month into the new year and security jobs have already been posted at companies including Sears Holdings, Sacramento Protective Services and Allied Barton Security Services.

For security positions, a license, commonly known as a guard card, can be obtained from the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services. Guard card holders are fingerprinted, must complete eight hours of training from an approved facility and 40 hours of additional training on the job. Guard cards must be renewed every two years. The cost is $50 for the license and for each renewal, plus an initial one-time fee of $49 for fingerprinting.

Investigators are also in demand locally in both the public and private sectors. Travelers Insurance began the new year with searching for a fire investigator in the Rancho Cordova area and a corporate security specialist was sought by the Golden 1 Credit Union in Sacramento.

The State of California also employs investigators in a wide variety of divisions, including Consumer Affairs, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Alcoholic Beverage Control. Additional California State departments for Public Health, Real Estate and the Bureau of Automotive Repair use investigators as well. Read job postings carefully for qualifications and requirements.

Probation officers and parole officers are always in demand in Sacramento. According to the CDCR, there were more than 106,000 California felons on parole as of 2009, each requiring a large amount of management and followup.

With the proposed budget announced mid-January, California Governor Jerry Brown has sworn to fight prior rulings which aim to reduce the number of inmates in overcrowded state prisons. Regardless of the outcome, employees in multiple arms of the criminal justice industry will be needed.

Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
Her work can be found at

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