Associate's in Criminal Justice - Private Security: Degree Overview

Apr 07, 2021

Essential Information

Associate's degree programs in criminal justice or justice administration with a concentration in private security teach students about the various levels of government, the legal system and courts, and methods of interviewing or observing people for suspicious or dangerous behavior. Internships with security or law enforcement agencies may be available. After finishing this two-year program, aspiring security officers may be required to complete employer training, such as firearms training, before they can start working.

High school graduates or GED holders are eligible to enroll in this program. Some programs offer earned credits for students who have law enforcement or corrections experience.

Associate's Degree in Criminal Justice - Private Security Overview

Associate's degree-level criminal justice and justice administration programs provide a broad overview of criminology and justice topics, with private security options giving more directed job training. These programs usually include the following courses:

  • Criminal law, constitutional law, evidence
  • Security administration
  • Police report writing, investigation methods
  • Local, state or federal government
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Homeland security or counterterrorism

Popular Career Options

Armed and unarmed security professionals work virtually anywhere there's a need to promote safety for groups of people, maintain order in crowds and protect property against vandalism, theft or other damage. For instance, they can work in public and private settings such as industrial sites, retail outlets, commercial properties, educational institutions, public spaces and government buildings, among others. With appropriate training, a clean criminal record and any required licensure, AAS graduates may work in one of the following roles:

  • Private security guard
  • Campus safety officer
  • Transportation screener
  • Loss prevention officer

Continuing Education Information

While the criminal justice or administration of justice AAS may be a terminal degree leading to employment in the security industry, students may also choose to transfer to a 4-year degree program for further instruction in criminal justice or security management. In a bachelor's degree program, students take courses in criminal theory, research methods, security administration and other special topics.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many security positions require additional job training provided by the employer, especially if the position includes the use of firearms or if there are specialized security needs ( The BLS also noted that licensing of security guards is mandatory in many states, with continuing education and training necessary for retention of licensure.

In addition to education and training, security professionals may also obtain professional certification to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities. ASIS International awards the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) credential to security management professionals upon the completion of a multiple-choice examination dealing with industry topics and skills ( ASIS International's guidelines state that individuals are eligible if they have bachelor's degrees and seven years of relevant job experience or nine years of work experience without a bachelor's degree.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Security guards in general can expect 3% growth in job openings from 2019-2029, according to the BLS. In May 2020, security guards earned a mean annual salary of $34,360, per the BLS.

Once students finish an associate's degree program in criminal justice or justice administration with a concentration in private security, they have the basic legal knowledge they need to take the next steps toward careers as security guards or apply to higher-level education programs.

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