A criminal justice associate's degree may be labeled as an Associate of Applied Business or an Associate of Applied Science. These two-year programs introduce students to modern law enforcement technology, and some programs offer in-field training opportunities. Specialization options include law enforcement, security and corrections. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED.
Associate of Applied Business or Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
Students in these programs learn about the law, the judicial system, evidence-gathering techniques and the correctional system. Course offerings may include:
- Juvenile Law
- Traffic & Police Tactical Skills
- Communications & Diversity
- Criminal Justice Ethics
- Homeland Security Planning
- Forensic Psychology & Criminology
Popular Career Options
AAB and AAS programs in criminal justice can prepare graduates to work for local or federal agencies, as well as with private firms or institutions. Individuals might be prepared for entry-level positions in many facets of law enforcement, security and investigation. Possible careers for graduates include:
- Private security officer
- Police officer
- Correctional officer
- Courtroom bailiff
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), correctional officers and jailers made $49,300 on average in 2018, whereas police and sheriff's patrol officers made an average income of $65,400 per year. The average annual salary for bailiffs was $49,870 in 2018, per the BLS. Police and detectives are expected to realize an employment increase of 5% between 2018 and 2028, while correctional officers and bailiffs will see a decline of 7% over the same period, the BLS reports.
Continuing Education Information
An associate degree may be a requirement for employment with some law enforcement agencies, but applicants may have to meet other criteria as well, such as police academy training. Officers at all levels can improve their skills and knowledge through continuing education courses offered by local, state and federal law enforcement training centers. Students who wish to advance their education may pursue a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. Most federal and some state agencies require officers to have bachelor's degrees and provide additional training after the officer is hired. Beyond the bachelor's degree level, students may also pursue master's and doctoral degrees in criminal justice.
AAB and AAS programs in criminal justice provide basic educational and practical preparation for a wide variety of law-related careers and educational opportunities.