Individuals interested in security may pursue a two-year associate's degree in criminal justice or a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, public safety, or personal protection management. Prerequisites commonly required include a high school diploma or GED, submission of academic transcripts and a personal essay.
These programs can provide studies in crisis management, criminology, victimology, security law, corrections and criminal investigations. Students may also choose a concentration such as homeland security, law enforcement, corrections, juvenile justice, and forensic psychology.
Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
Individuals with an associate's degree in criminal justice are qualified for entry-level security guard positions and managerial roles. Undergraduate students learn the foundations of the criminal justice system and practical security applications.
Students participate in didactic learning and receive practical training in criminal procedures. The curriculum prepares graduates for careers in private security, juvenile justice, corrections and law enforcement. Coursework may include:
- Criminal evidence
- Law enforcement systems
- Crime scene investigation
- Patrol procedures and Crisis intervention
- Constitutional law and report writing
Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
A 4-year degree program in criminal justice develops an individual's professional skills in communication, critical thinking, research and interpersonal relationships. Coursework provides a foundational understanding of public safety theory, the judicial system, criminal law, crime scene investigation and criminal justice procedures. As a result, graduates are qualified for positions as criminal investigators, security administrators, customs agents, corrections officers, legal assistants and private investigators.
Undergraduates take core courses in criminal justice as well as classes specific to their specialization. The curriculum covers community safety, legal principles and administrative procedures. Courses may include:
- Security management
- Criminal court system
- Juvenile corrections
- Risk assessment and management
- Global security
Bachelor of Science in Personal Protection Management
A bachelor's degree program in personal protection management prepares undergraduate students to organize security operations and provide a safe environment for clients. Successful individuals will possess foundational knowledge of personnel management, organizational skills, decision-making abilities and professionalism. Graduates are qualified to protect people, information and property.
Students in this undergraduate degree program learn to conduct security operations, carry out surveillance and analyze safety threats. In addition, they study communication techniques because building a good relationship with clients is essential. Courses may include:
- Security ethics and Vehicle security
- Dignitary protection services
- Organizational management
- Conflict resolution
- Travel security
- Briefing and debriefing methods
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Bachelor of Applied Science in Public Safety Management
An undergraduate program in public safety management develops leadership abilities and managerial skills. Students learn to think critically and strategically to provide a safe and secure community environment. The curriculum focuses on security procedures, crisis management, emergency preparedness and system coordination.
A bachelor's degree program in public safety management combines didactic coursework and practical experience in managing public environments. Undergraduate students receive hands-on training in security and loss prevention. Courses may include:
- Human behavior
- Security administration
- Criminal investigation and Ethics in criminal justice
- Security measures and Emergency planning
- Risk management and Crime scene safety
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov) reported that security guards earned a median annual wage of $24,630 in May 2015. Job prospects are described as favorable for entry-level opportunities. Higher-paying security guard positions are more competitive and may require an undergraduate degree or higher as well as specialized training.
Continuing Education Information
Advanced degree programs in criminal justice, criminology or security may interest those considering careers in law enforcement, corrections, private security administration or security management. Degree options include a Master of Science in Safety, Security and Emergency Management or a Master of Science in Public Safety Administration.
Those seeking further advancement in the security field may consider a master's degree program in personal security or intelligence management. A doctoral degree program is also available in strategic security.
Advanced degree programs in security provide additional instruction in the justice system, administration, law and protection. Program options include criminology, criminal justice and strategic security. Individuals holding a bachelor's degree or higher are qualified for security management roles at the federal, state and local government level and in the public sector.
Prospective security guards may elect to pursue an undergraduate degree in criminal justice, personal protection management, and public safety to help advance their career. Jobs are growing about as fast as the national average, according to the BLS.