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What Can You Do With an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice?

Jun 28, 2013 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Columnist | 0 Comments

With an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice, you’ll learn how to solve crimes using the most current technologies; the ins and outs of the American court system, and techniques used in law enforcement to interview suspects and victims, deal with communities, and solve crimes. Most Associate of Arts degrees include hands-on experience in the form of internships. Specialties within this field include corrections, law enforcement, cybercrime, juvenile justice, and forensic psychology.

Criminal justice is one area where an Associate of Arts degree will be enough to open the door to many stable entry-level jobs. For many of these positions, a high school diploma is most common among typical entry-level candidates, and an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice will make you one of the more qualified options. A few of these careers include:

Police officer

While education requirements vary from region to region and between departments, often you can get hired as a police officer with an Associate’s degree or even a high school degree. You’ll need to pass on-the-job training, and most departments have their own police academy programs. While you may not need an Associate’s degree to get hired in many cases, having one could put you ahead of other job applicants and make you a more likely candidate for promotion.

See Also: Online Degree Programs

Corrections officer

Corrections officers are responsible for the safety of inmates and keeping order within jails. They may supervise inmates who are awaiting trial or those who have already been sentenced. The required educational qualifications vary by agency, and some require no more than a high school degree. Others require some college credit.

Private security officer

You could work for a private company as a security guard; many private companies will hire entry-level candidates with high school diplomas, GED’s, or Associate of Arts degrees in criminal justice. In this career, your job would be to protect the company’s property, monitor alarms and closed-circuit TV cameras, control visitor access, and assure the safety and security of people inside the building.

Gaming surveillance officer

Gaming surveillance officers are specialized security personnel who work in casinos. In addition to protecting the safety and security of the building, this officer’s task is to monitor the gaming floor for signs of cheating and theft. Usually this is done over closed-circuit television.

Private investigator

While most private investigators have at least some college education, there are no formal requirements—and an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice could give you the investigative skills and qualifications you need to get started on the job. Many private investigators work for insurance companies investigating cases of potential fraud. 

Loss prevention agent

Loss prevention agents work for stores—usually larger department or chain stores—or malls. Their job is to prevent shoplifting. The job often requires only a high school diploma or GED, but an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice would put you ahead of other candidates—and open the door to higher-level job opportunities in this field.

Despite the tough economy, the field of corrections and law enforcement is growing—although slowly in some areas, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. In addition, many of these jobs tend to be high-stress and have typically high turnover. If you can handle the stressful nature of the job, you’re likely to find that these are stable careers—and that an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice may qualify you for advancement over other applicants with high school degrees or GED’s.

In addition, Associate of Arts credits are frequently accepted by colleges toward a Bachelor’s degree—so you could potentially finish a Bachelor’s in a related field at a traditional or accredited online school within an additional two years. If you have a passion for criminal justice, an Associate’s in the field is a good place to start.



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