Associate of Criminal Justice: Degree Overview
Learn about career options with an Associate of Criminal Justice. Get information about course topics, employment projections and continuing education options.
A criminal justice associate's degree program is one option for individuals who want to work as a police officer or detective. Students can find 2-year programs in criminal justice as an Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Science. These programs are available at community colleges and technical schools. Applicants are required to have a high school diploma or its equivalent for admission.
Participants gain knowledge of the American legal system, correctional systems practices, law enforcement tactics and current social issues plaguing our country. Learning occurs through classroom lectures as well as practical experiences. Elective courses typically allow students to concentrate their programs in areas such as corrections, law enforcement, criminal courts and juvenile justice. Students should obtain the skills and training to work as law enforcement officers, security officers, corrections officers or related justice professionals.
In addition to courses in the classroom, students may participate in cooperative education or internships. The coop education allows students to put theory into practice in the real world, often in a specialized area of criminal justice. Some topics of study may include:
- Juvenile justice
- Legal aspects of law enforcement
- Police systems and practices
- Criminal investigations
Popular Career Options
Graduates have the theoretical knowledge of criminology and investigative skills to qualify for career opportunities within private security, computer forensics and law enforcement. Popular career titles include:
- Police officer
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of police and detectives is expected to increase by five percent from 2012-2022. The BLS also reported that police and sheriff's patrol officers made an average salary of $57,770 as of May 2012.
Continuing Education Information
Graduates may pursue immediate employment or may choose to further their education. Aspiring police officers are usually required to complete additional training, usually at academies, prior to starting work. Individuals interested in working as probation officers or correctional specialists may pursue bachelor's degree programs in criminal justice. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) requires that their agents have at least a bachelor's degree, according to the BLS.
Police officers often earn advancements and promotions with experience and continued training. They usually complete annual training to brush up on specific law enforcement skills, such as firearms use, self-defense and advancements in law enforcement equipment.
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