Associate's in Criminal Justice - Law Enforcement: Degree Overview

Students who aspire to work in policing or security may be interested in getting an associate's degree in criminal law with a concentration in law enforcement. Get details about these programs and what students can do once they finish.

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Essential Information

Associate's programs in criminal justice are designed to provide foundational knowledge in the basic aspects of the legal system and develop students' problem-solving, analytic and communication skills. They usually include lab work, supervised training, and seminars.

In order to apply, students must hold a GED or high school diploma. Some programs also require applicants to be CPR certified. In addition, students may have to undergo a drug screening and a criminal background check.


Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Corrections Admin
  • Corrections, Probation, and Parole
  • Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
  • Criminal Science
  • Forensic Science
  • Juvenile Corrections
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  • Police Science and Law Enforcement
  • Securities Services Mgmt
  • Security and Theft Prevention Services

Associate Degree in Criminal Justice

Associate program in criminal justice typically include overviews of criminal justice systems, criminology and related topics, such as crime causation and investigative methods. Additional course topics can include:

  • Crime and society
  • Deviant behavior
  • Criminal procedures
  • Police administration
  • Corrections administration
  • Criminal justice ethics

Popular Career Options

Criminal justice and law enforcement graduates can seek employment in police departments, correctional facilities and other organizations related to criminal justice. Possible career titles include:

  • Police officer
  • Sheriff
  • Corrections officer
  • Fish and game warden

Graduates who want to become police officers must complete police training at an academy prior to their first assignment. Academy programs include classroom instruction, practical exercises and physical training.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for correctional officers is projected to increase at 4% from 2014 to 2024, while job openings for police and sheriff's patrol officers were expected to grow by 5%. Fish and game wardens were only projected to see 2% job growth during the same time.

In May 2015, the BLS reported that the yearly median salary of police and sheriff's patrol officers was $58,320. The median annual salary for fish and game wardens was $52,780, and for correctional officers it was $40,580.

Continuing Education Info

Although graduates are prepared for immediate employment in the field, they may also choose to pursue further study, such as a four-year baccalaureate degree in criminal justice or a related subject. This degree is required for some law enforcement positions. For instance, individuals interested in working for the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) must complete bachelor's degree programs. Master's degree and Ph.D. programs in criminal justice are also available for those who want to pursue graduate-level studies.

Earning an associate's degree in criminal justice with a concentration in law enforcement adequately prepares students to enter the field. It should be noted, however, that careers in policing and corrections typically require extensive on-the-job training or academy training. Graduates of associate's programs may also consider pursuing bachelor's degrees.

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