Certificate programs might involve practical learning experiences and some could prepare students for firearms certification. Depending on the program, enrollees might study for days or weeks. The lengthier two-year associate's degree programs provide general education coursework in addition to criminal investigation and surveillance topics. Prospective students must fulfill general admissions requirements of a high school diploma or GED before entering these programs.
Certificate of Completion - Security and Surveillance
Professional certificate programs in security and surveillance prepare students to work with law enforcement, prevent crimes, handle evidence and testify in courts. Some programs emphasize casino surveillance techniques, while some are more applicable for loss prevention security guards or private investigators. The length of certificate programs may vary widely; ranging from a weekend seminar to a semester-long program.
Most programs expect students to complete background checks and drug screening. Due to the physical nature of the job, a certain level of physical fitness may be required.
Security and surveillance students receive a combination of classroom and on-the-job training. Some students receive unarmed training, while some pursue firearms certification. Coursework topics include:
- Criminal evidence
- Testifying in court
- Interviewing techniques
- Surveillance operations
- Protective techniques
Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
Criminal justice programs educate students on issues related to crime, law enforcement and security. Students receive training working on methods for improving communities through crime prevention. They also explore topics in criminal investigation, security systems and surveillance. Such programs generally require two years to complete and graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in law enforcement and security fields.
An associate's degree program in criminal justice requires completion of general education requirements in the liberal arts and sciences in addition to the professional curriculum. Required courses include the following:
- Criminal law
- Court systems
- Law enforcement systems
- Research methods
Popular Career Options
Surveillance and security officers have a wide range of positions and venues available, including general business offices, retail stores and casinos. Specific job titles may include:
- Security guard
- Loss prevention officer
- Private investigator
- Gaming surveillance officer
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasted decline in jobs of 7% for gaming surveillance officers and gaming investigators, from 2014-2024, while average growth of 5% was predicted for security guards (www.bls.gov). The median annual salary for a gaming surveillance officer or gaming investigator, according to the BLS, was $31,170, while a general security guard earned a median of $24,630 as of 2015.
Licensure is required by most states for those working as security guards. Requirements vary depending upon state; some states require a specific amount of training prior to employment. Those in the field of surveillance must stay current on new technologies and therefore complete regular training modules, often provided by employers.
Associate holders have the technical training and theoretical knowledge for entry-level careers in law enforcement. Graduates also have the option to pursue a bachelor's degree program in criminal justice for advancement in the field of law enforcement or entry-level careers in law.
Those interested in becoming a security guard or gaming surveillance officer may get on-the-job training, earn a certificate in security and surveillance or earn an Associate of Science in Criminal Justice. While the associates degree covers more material and is more versatile, it does take two-years of study while the certificate programs take far less.