There are about 40 institutions in Florida that are certified to administer the basic training needed to sit for the certification exam. The following are the ten largest institutions of higher learning where this training can be completed. In general, programs which qualify an individual to sit for the SOCE fall into one of two categories: law enforcement and corrections. These programs are highly structured and have specific standards, regulations, and requirements which are set by the state. Programs may take as little as three to six months to complete. Some programs may require applicants to have a previous degree.
Eastern Florida State College
Certificates and associate's degrees are available at Eastern Florida State College in Cocoa, a 4-year public school with a total student population of about 18,000 students. The 420-hour Correctional Officer program is worth a total of 17 credit hours. The Law Enforcement Program, which requires 770 hours to complete, is worth 27 credit hours.
Broward College, located in Fort Lauderdale, is a 4-year public college that offers certificate programs in addition to associate's and bachelor's degrees. This college offers a training program specifically for correctional probation officers that requires 420 hours to complete. In order to enroll in this program, an individual must have a bachelor's degree, and be sponsored by the Department of Corrections.
Daytona State College
Daytona State College in Daytona Beach is a public school that offers bachelor's and associate's degrees, and certificate programs. The School of Emergency Services offers Police Basic Recruit Training and Corrections Officer Basic Recruit Training. The Law Enforcement Academy has five classes each year, which are limited to 25 students each.
Hillsborough Community College
Located in Tampa, Hillsboro Community College is a 2-year public school that offers certificate and associate's programs. Working under the direction of the Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission, The Criminal Justice Institute has a 552-hour Corrections Academy, and a Law Enforcement Training Program, which requires 770 hours to complete.
Indian River State College
The Criminal Justice Institute at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce has certificate programs, and associate's, and bachelor's degree programs. The Corrections Academy has a tuition cost of about $2,700, and requires about four months of study. The Law Enforcement Academy has a para-military structure, and requires about 848 hours of study. An Equivalency of Training program is available at Indian River, which allows those who have previously been certified in Florida, or who have had training comparable to Florida's basic recruit program, to be exempted from basic training and proceed more quickly to taking the SOCE.
Miami Dade College
Located in Miami, this college is a 4-year public school that offers associate's and bachelor's degree programs, and certificates. Miami Dade College's School of Justice offers public safety training for both the public and the private sector. These programs cover interpersonal skills, as well as law, medical first-response, defensive driving, defensive tactics, and firearms. Both the Basic Corrections Academy and the Basic Law Enforcement Academy qualify an individual to sit for the SOCE.
Palm Beach State College
Palm Beach State College is located in Lake Worth, and offers certificate programs, as well as associate's and bachelor's degrees. The Corrections Officer Program takes a total of 420 hours to complete, or about three months of full time course work, and covers firearms, safety, communications, and other topics as they pertain to work in a correctional facility. The Law Enforcement Officer Program takes 770 hours to complete, and covers such topics as patrols, DUI, crime scene investigations, firearms, and first aid.
Santa Fe College
Santa Fe College in Gainesville is a 4-year public college that has degrees at the bachelor's and associate's levels, and also offers certificate programs. It has a Law Enforcement and Corrections Officer Certification Academy that covers 15 chapters of curriculum, and prepares students to take the SOCE. This school boasts that over the last ten years, 99.4% of graduates have passed the SOCE.
Seminole State College of Florida
Seminole State College is a 4-year public school located in Sanford that offers certificates, and associate's and bachelor's degrees. This school offers a certification program in both law enforcement and corrections. The correctional officer program requires 420 program hours and includes courses in first aid and fire arms. The law enforcement officer certificate takes 770 program hours. Required courses for law enforcement include introduction to law enforcement and criminal justice defensive tactics.
St Petersburg College
Located in St Petersburg, this is a 4-year public college that offers associate's and bachelor's degrees, as well as certificate programs. Three academies at St Petersburg prepare students to take the SOCE. The Law Enforcement Academy lasts 22 weeks, a total of 790 hours, and costs a total of $4,000 for in-state students. It allows students to work as police officers and administrators. The Corrections Academy program prepares students to work for the Florida Department of Corrections and for private correctional companies, requires 444 hours to complete, and has a total in-state tuition cost of $3,200. Out-of-state, federal, and military officers, and those previously certified by the state of Florida, can attend the Equivalency of Training Academy. This academy does not provide basic instruction, but rather offers an intensive training course that allows those with previous criminal justice experience to be exempted from the full academy.
There is a four-step process for becoming a certified probation officer in the state of Florida. Individuals who wish to become certified must meet certain basic requirements. These include being a US citizen who is 19 years of age or older, and having earned a bachelor's degree. Those who have been dishonorably discharged from the military, or who have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor that involved perjury or false statement, are not eligible to become a sworn officer. In addition, a physical examination is needed, and individuals must have fingerprints on file. Finally, those who want to become a certified officer must be judged to be of good moral character.
If these basic requirements are met, prospective officers will complete a basic abilities test, then progress to basic training. Training is followed by the State Officer Certification Examination (SOCE). No one can sit for the SOCE until he or she completes basic recruit training at a Commission-certified school. After successfully passing the SOCE, individuals have four years to become employed by the state of Florida. Once employed, the individual's employing agency will make an application for certification on their behalf, and they can become certified officers.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Criminal Justice Training Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)|
|Eastern Florida State College||4-year, public; large suburb|| Postsecondary Adult Vocational Certificate - Florida CMS Correctional Officer,
Postsecondary Adult Vocational Certificate - Florida CMS Law Enforcement Officer
| $2,496 in-state*
|Broward College||4-year, public; large suburb||Correctional Probation Officer Academy Basic Recruit Certificate Program|| $2,753 in-state*
|Daytona State College||4-year, public; small city|| Law Enforcement Academy,
| $3,282 in-state*
|Hillsborough Community College||2-year, public; large city|| Law Enforcement Basic Recruit Training PSAV Program,
| $2,506 in-state*
|Indian River State College||4-year, public; large suburb|| Correctional Officer Basic Recruit Training Program,
Law Enforcement Academy
| $2,764 in-state*
|Miami Dade College||4-year, public; large city|| Basic Corrections Academy,
Basic Law Enforcement Academy
| $2,834 in-state*
|Palm Beach State College||4-year, public; large suburb|| Law Enforcement Officer Program,
Corrections Officer Program
| $2,444 in-state*
|Santa Fe College||4-year, public; midsize suburb||Basic Recruit Program|| $2,539 in-district*
|Seminole State College of Florida||4-year, public; small city|| Law Enforcement Officer Certificate,
Correctional Officer Certificate,
Law Enforcement and Corrections Basic Dual Certification
| $3,131 in-state*
|St Petersburg College||4-year, public; small city|| Law Enforcement Academy,
Equivalency of Training Academy
| $3,352 in-state*
Source: *National Center for Education Statistics