No specific degree program is directly linked to a career as a highway patrol officer; however, 2-year associate degree programs in criminal justice with a law enforcement focus provide relevant training. A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for enrollment. These programs help enrollees prepare for careers as highway patrol officers, correctional officers, customs inspectors, parole officers, and many other positions in law enforcement.
Criminal Justice Associate Degree
Criminal justice associate degree programs with a law enforcement concentration provide extensive training relevant to a career as a highway patrol officer. Courses in a degree program with a law enforcement concentration cover an array of topics, including drugs and crime, terrorism, and criminal law. Students also must complete general education classes, such as English composition and mathematics. Other courses may include the following:
- Ethics in criminal justice
- Introduction to criminal law
- Introduction to law enforcement
- Crime scene investigation
- Patrol procedures
- Basic police firearms training
Career Outlook and Salary Info
Regarding police and sheriff's patrol officers, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an expected 5% growth in jobs from 2014-2024. General population growth necessitates increased demand for police services. In May 2015, the median annual wages for police and sheriff's patrol officers, a group encompassing highway patrol, were $58,320, per the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Whether or not an individual has achieved an associate degree in criminal justice, he or she must apply directly to a local law enforcement agency to become a highway patrol officer. Applicants must pass a series of training programs and exams. To join the highway patrol, candidates must be in strong physical condition, learn basic medical aid, complete weapons training, and take driving courses, in addition to other requirements.
Those interested in careers as highway patrol officers can complete an associate degree program in the field of criminal justice. This is typically followed by a training program through a local law enforcement agency.