An associate's degree in criminal investigation is not a commonly awarded degree option, but a student interested in this field may earn an associate's degree in criminal justice. These degree programs are available in multiple formats, including Associate of Arts and Associate of Applied Science options. Applicants for these 2-year degrees need a high school diploma or equivalent. Graduates can pursue their bachelor's degrees or certified investigator credentials.
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Corrections Admin
- Corrections, Probation, and Parole
- Criminal Justice and Safety Studies
- Criminal Science
- Forensic Science
- Juvenile Corrections
- Law Enforcement Administration
- Police Science and Law Enforcement
- Securities Services Mgmt
- Security and Theft Prevention Services
Associate's Degree in Criminal Investigations
Students can take a variety of courses focusing on the field of criminal justice and may choose to concentrate in subjects like corrections, the legal system, law enforcement or cybercrime investigation. Common courses include:
- Criminal investigation
- Evidence and procedures in investigations
- Court systems
- Police practices
- Corrections practices
- Community and law enforcement relations
Popular Career Options
Official education requirements may vary between various criminal justice careers and employers, but postsecondary education can be preferred for multiple positions in this field. Graduates of an associate's degree program in criminal justice can prepare for careers like:
- Crime scene investigator
- Private detective
- Gaming surveillance officer
Job Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of private detectives and investigators is expected to grow by 5% from 2014-2024; however, police detectives and criminal investigators will see a job decline of 1%. Private detectives and investigators earned a median salary of $45,610 in May 2015, according to the BLS, while police detectives and criminal investigators earned a median salary of $77,210.
Continuing Education and Professional Certification
Individuals seeking further education in this field can pursue a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. These degree programs are offered online and in the traditional classroom setting, both part- and full-time. Online programs allow individuals to work while attending classes on their own schedule and often use Internet-based message boards and e-mail for communication between students and professors. Common courses include criminology, ethics in criminal justice, court systems and police administration.
Licensure, certification and further training requirements depend upon the career that an individual chooses and the state an individual lives in. Licensed legal investigators can obtain the Certified Legal Investigator credential through the National Association of Legal Investigators, after five years of work experience, submission of a paper on an investigative topic and completion of written and oral exams (www.nalionline.org). ASIS International offers certification for investigators and security guards - the Professional Certified Investigator and Physical Security Professional credentials. Each of these certifications has its own requirements, but both include work experience.
Associate's degree programs in criminal investigations teach the foundations of procedures and practices in the criminal justice system. Graduates can work as licensed detectives and investigators, or pursue bachelor's degrees.