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Associate in Specialized Business: Criminal Justice Degree Overview

Associate of Specialized Business (ASB) in Criminal Justice programs are available at private for-profit colleges. Interested students can also complete an Associate of Science (AS) in Criminal Justice program at a nonprofit institution.

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Essential Information

ASB and AS programs in criminal justice blend in-class work with hands-on experience and application courses. Students will learn to investigate crimes, collect evidence, complete reports, handle firearms and interview criminals. Some programs require students to complete an externship in an actual criminal justice environment prior to graduation.


Associate's Degree in Specialized Business Criminal Justice

The curricula in AS and ASB programs in criminal justice focus on rehabilitation, crime scene investigation, policing procedures and constitutional law. Students must also take general education courses, including math, English, and science. Common classes in criminal justice include:

  • Social problems
  • Criminal investigation
  • Juvenile justice
  • Probation and parole
  • Race and justice

Popular Career Options

Graduates of these programs qualify for career opportunities in a range of fields, including law enforcement, juvenile justice, probation, corrections and human services. Most criminal justice workers are employed through local and federal governments. Possible job titles include police officer, correctional officer, wildlife conservation officer, security guard, and private investigator.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Jobs for protective service officers, such as police officers and detectives, including patrol and fish and game wardens, are estimated to grow 4% from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reports that correctional officer jobs are expected to grow 4%, security guard jobs are expected to grow 5%, and jobs for private detectives and investigators are expected to grow 5% during that same decade.

The BLS reports that police and sheriff's patrol officers earned a median annual salary of $58,320 in 2015, while fish and game wardens earned a median annual salary of $52,780 that same year. The median annual salary for corrections officers was $40,530. Security guards earned a median annual salary of $24,630, and private detectives and investigators earned a median annual salary of $45,610.

Continuing Education Information

ASB and AS degree holders may choose to further their education and their careers by earning a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Many federal jobs in law enforcement and corrections require candidates to either hold a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or have extensive experience in the field, often making further education a necessity. Bachelor's degree programs may include specialized tracks for corrections, law enforcement and administration of justice. Bachelor's degree programs examine topics in terrorism, investigation, punishment, dispute resolution and evidence procedures.

Depending on the kind of school students want to attend, they can pursue either an ASB or AS in criminal justice. Both programs provide general education alongside basic legal studies in order to prepare students for entry-level work in the field and/or bachelor's-level study in related topics.

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