Many community colleges have public service technology departments that allow students to select associate degree programs in a service-oriented career field. Associate's degree programs in public service are two years in length and include specializations in public safety, criminal justice, human services, paramedics, firefighting, or early childhood development. Most programs combine classroom instruction and hands-on training. This allows students to learn the foundations and professional ethics to begin or continue their public service career. Some of these careers have physical fitness requirements, so that is something students should consider before beginning their chosen program.
All associate's degree students must complete general education courses in topics such as mathematics, science and English composition. The core courses depend upon the specific public service technology degree program in which a student enrolls. Many programs also call for internships or work/study experiences.
Public Service Associate's Degree
A public service associate's degree is suitable for an individual who is either a high school graduate who has not pursued a post-secondary degree, or for working professionals looking to advance their qualifications. There are a great variety of focus areas for individuals who wish to pursue a public service associate's degree. Due to this variety of options, coursework is particular to the specific public service degree program. The human services associate's degree program leads to a wide range of public service occupations, including community outreach worker, mental health aide and social work assistant. Using human services as a representative program, courses may include:
- Human services foundations
- Computer applications
- Social psychology
- Group dynamics
- Case management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates of an associate's degree program in an area of public services technology might go on to a range of entry-level positions or continue with further academic study. Some public service positions include:
- Law enforcement officer
- Fire fighter
- Community support worker
- Gerontology aide
- Teacher aide
A career in social and human service assistance is also possible. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for social and human service assistants were expected to grow 11% between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than average. The median annual wage among these professionals was $30,830 in 2015, per the BLS.
An associate's degree program in public services technology can provide students with the educational background necessary to pursue a baccalaureate degree. Students can often transfer their credits over to bachelor's degree programs in fire science, criminal justice, law enforcement, early childhood education and human services. Graduates from associate's degree programs may also join professional associations in their public service fields, which generally provides further continuing education and networking opportunities.
Associate's degree programs in public service combine courses with a variety of hand-on learning experiences that depend on the chosen program. Graduates of this type of degree program are prepared for further education or an entry-level career in the field.