Best Online Associate in Safety Programs

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An online associate in safety degree prepares learners to serve their communities through careers in public safety, criminal justice, and law enforcement. Although safety is a broad discipline, students gain an academic background in areas like criminal investigation, emergency planning, and accident inspection.

An associate degree can be a significant financial investment. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that tuition at public two-year colleges costs in-state students an average of $3,900 in 2020-2021. Tuition at private nonprofit two-year colleges costs students an average of $18,000.

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Many public safety professionals earn above-average salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that as of May 2021, police officers earned a median annual salary of $64,610, and correctional officers earned a median annual salary of $47,920. Fire inspectors earned a median annual salary of $63,080. For comparison, the national median salary across all occupations was $45,760.

Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS projects the number of jobs for fire inspectors will grow by 11%, and jobs for security guards will grow by 15%. The average projected growth rate across all occupations is 8%, so these jobs are projected to see faster-than-average growth.

What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Safety Program?

Associate in safety programs are a good fit for perceptive, resourceful individuals with a passion for helping others. Public safety professionals should be able to collaborate well with others and act quickly in high-stress situations.

Online associate in public safety programs usually consist of roughly 60 course credits, which typically takes learners two years of full-time study or three years of part-time study to complete. However, completion time may vary considerably for part-time students or students enrolled in self-paced or accelerated programs.

Often, learners must complete about 15 credits of foundational social science courses in subjects like psychology, sociology, and criminology. They may also build a practical understanding of public safety through courses covering interviews and interrogation, contingency planning, court procedure, and physical hazards control.

Some programs offer both associate in arts (AA) and associate in science (AS) tracks. AA programs offer more social science-oriented curricula, focusing on topics like criminology and law enforcement through sociological or political lenses. AS programs are more technical and may emphasize practical training in areas like emergency response and accident prevention.

Because safety is a broad area, some programs offer specific concentrations to allow students to orient their coursework around their career goals. Some common examples include:

  • Criminal Justice Technology
  • Corrections
  • Occupational Safety and Health

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Popular Online Associate in Safety Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Safety Program?

Hazardous Materials Safety

This course outlines how policy and education can protect workers from occupational hazards. Learners explore safety requirements, including mandates from federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Principles of Fire and Emergency Services Safety

In this course, students learn about the precautions, rescue techniques, and technological innovations firefighters rely on when responding to various emergencies. This course covers how firefighters minimize the risk of injury or death to civilians and other public safety personnel.

Criminology

This foundational course equips students with an understanding of crime's social and psychological origins. Learners explore common motives, such as poverty, marginalization, and mental health conditions, and how systemic policies may impact crime.

Judicial Process

In this course, learners explore the U.S. judicial process. This includes courtroom protocols and the roles of various figures in the judicial system, such as lawyers, judges, juries, witnesses, forensic professionals, and law enforcement personnel.

Investigative Principles

In this course, students gain a practical understanding of crime scene investigation and incident processing. Learners study how law enforcement professionals document crime scenes, take incident reports, collect evidence, and present their findings in courtroom settings.

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Safety Program?

While admissions requirements vary by program, nearly all online associate in safety programs require applicants to submit proof of high school graduation or GED completion. Applicants must submit high school transcripts as well as transcripts from any postsecondary institutions they have attended. In some cases, students may be able to transfer previously earned college credits or AP credits.

Although many colleges have become test-optional, applicants can bolster their application by submitting strong SAT or ACT scores.

Applicants with prior work or volunteer experience should detail professional experiences, community service, and extracurricular activities in a cohesive resume. Colleges often require applicants to include letters of recommendation and application essays to learn more about prospective students' capabilities, insights, and goals.

What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Safety Degree?

Career Outlook

There are several in-demand jobs available for individuals with safety degrees in fields such as law enforcement, community safety, and criminal justice.

The BLS projects that jobs for fire inspectors will grow by 11%, and jobs for security guards will grow by 15% between 2020-30. During this same period, the BLS projects that jobs for police and detectives will grow 7%, accounting for 51,700 new police positions and 2,800 new detective positions.

Many of these professionals' salary potential depends on location, experience level, and employer. BLS data from 2021 reports that detectives earned a median salary of $83,640, and police officers earned a median salary of $66,020. Police employed by the federal government earned a median salary of $93,970. Corrections officers earned a median salary of $47,920 in 2021, while those employed by the federal government earned $59,920.

See where an associate in safety degree can take you.

Career Paths

Police Officer

These individuals serve their communities by surveilling areas within their jurisdiction, monitoring dangerous or criminal activity, and responding to various emergency situations. Police officers identify suspicious or illicit behavior, obtain search and arrest warrants, and assist in criminal investigations.

Learners should note that professionals must go through police academy training to pursue a career as a police officer.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $66,020, BLS

Corrections Officer

Corrections officers supervise incarcerated individuals and maintain order in prisons or jails. These professionals are responsible for enforcing institutional regulations. They may conduct searches, oversee inmate safety, conduct disciplinary measures, create behavior reports, and respond to crisis situations.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $47,920, BLS

Firefighter

Firefighters address emergency situations involving fire, property damage, and other threats to human safety. They use equipment such as hoses, hydrants, pumps, and ladders to contain and extinguish fires. Firefighters may also perform rescue services in emergencies such as car accidents and deliver preliminary medical treatment.

Learners should note that professionals must go through fire academy training to pursue a career as a firefighter.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $50,700, BLS

Security Guard

Security guards are typically employed by private companies to monitor property, merchandise, and/or facilities. Although security personnel work in a variety of settings, they typically patrol assigned areas, identify suspicious activity, and enforce safety protocols. In some cases, these individuals may be armed and work closely with law enforcement or other emergency service personnel.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $31,470, BLS

Career name

These law enforcement professionals investigate serious criminal cases. They often collaborate with forensics professionals to evaluate empirical evidence, such as injuries, blood splatter, digital footprints, or DNA traces. They may interview witnesses and other persons of interest to identify perpetrators and determine the circumstances surrounding criminal acts.

Learners should note that professionals must go through police academy training to pursue a career as a detective.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $83,640, BLS

Safety Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Continuing Education

Many graduates with an online associate in safety complete role-specific training or certification programs. For example, police officers and detectives attend a training academy to learn skills like firearm use and self-defense. Fire inspectors must attend fire investigation training programs to master safety protocols and equipment use.

It is common for graduates to continue their education. Many choose to earn bachelor's degrees in areas like criminology, criminal justice, public health, social work, or forensic science.

Although law enforcement professionals typically do not need to earn four-year degrees, higher education may help them compete for higher ranking leadership roles, such as detective. A bachelor's degree qualifies individuals to work for federal agencies, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Earning a bachelor's degree is also advantageous for individuals hoping to work in emergency preparedness roles such as emergency management directors or forensic science roles such as forensic science technicians.

How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Safety Program?

Cost

An online associate in safety can be a considerable financial investment. Public and community colleges charged an average of $3,900 in tuition for in-state learners in 2020-21, according to NCES. Private colleges charge an average yearly tuition of $18,000.

Remote and in-person learners usually pay comparable tuition rates. However, online learners can save on expenses like room and board, dining, and transportation.

Program Format

Online learners can choose from a wide variety of program formats. Many students adhere to a full-time, two-year program; however, learners with prior work or family obligations may embrace a part-time schedule. Asynchronous formats allow learners to complete course requirements at their own pace, while synchronous formats require learners to adhere to a set schedule. Accelerated programs can also allow students to earn their degree more quickly.

Location

Remote learners have the flexibility to access programs outside of their immediate geographic locations, which can expand their access to high-quality programs. However, many learners choose to attend online programs at nearby colleges to take advantage of affordable in-state tuition and resident-specific grants. Physical access to campus also allows remote learners to meet with faculty members, take hybrid courses, and participate in campus events.

Accreditation

When considering where to earn an associate degree, students should always be sure that colleges or universities of interest are properly accredited. Colleges and universities earn accreditation after undergoing an extensive evaluation process. Accrediting bodies assess institutions' instructional quality and learning outcomes, granting institutional or programmatic accreditation to schools and programs that meet their standards.

Student Support

To deliver optimal learning outcomes and serve students adequately, colleges should offer a variety of support services for online learners. Many colleges provide remote learners with academic services, like tutoring centers, writing support, and digital libraries. Schools should also offer career support, such as mentorship programs, internships, and alumni networking opportunities.

Best Accredited Online Associate in Safety Programs

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Best Online Associate in Safety Programs

  1. Pamlico Community College
    Location

    Grantsboro, NC

    Tuition

    $3087

    Based in Grantsboro, North Carolina, Pamlico Community College features small classes with a 9-to-1 student-teacher ratio.

    PCC's 67-credit online associate degree in criminal justice technology includes introductory courses to court procedures and evidence, interviews and interrogation, community policing, and ethics and community relations. Online learners must also fulfill around 15 credits of humanities and social science general education requirements.

    Students enrolled in the associate in safety learn to collect and preserve evidence. Graduates can find careers with federal, state, or local law enforcement; corrections facilities; or other security fields.

    PCC may ask applicants to take a placement test for admission. North Carolina residents receive a discounted tuition rate.

    Pamlico Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  2. Stanly Community College
    Location

    Albemarle, NC

    Tuition

    $5453

    Based in Albemarle, North Carolina, Stanly Community College offers two-year degree programs and delivers coursework through Canvas.

    The 66-credit online associate degree in criminal justice technology includes classes in court procedure and evidence, ethics and community relations, investigative principles, and organization and administration.

    Students enrolled in the online associate degree in safety need about two years or less to finish their degree. Online learners can earn additional credit through a work-based learning experience.

    Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent and must complete a placement test. SCC requires that students complete at least one-quarter of their credits at the community college

    Stanly Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  3. College of the Mainland
    Location

    Texas City, TX

    Tuition

    $3454

    Based in Texas City, Texas, College of the Mainland notes that its graduates with technical degrees earn higher starting salaries than any other new college graduate in the state.

    The occupational safety and health associate degree includes courses in accident inspection and investigation, physical hazards control, contingency planning, and safety program management.

    Graduates of the associate in safety program may sit for the associate safety professional or certified safety professional examinations from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP).

    College of the Mainland is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The associate degree in occupational safety and health is accredited by the BCSP.

  4. Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    Tuition

    $27432

    Based in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty University enrolls over 100,000 students and offers more than 450 online degree programs.

    The 60-credit online criminal justice associate degree includes classes in criminal justice research and writing, judicial process, criminology, and criminal law. Graduates pursue careers in areas like victim advocacy and homeland defense.

    Students in the online associate degree in safety can complete the program in 1-2 years. Liberty allows students to transfer up to 75% of their credits from another school. Each online course lasts about eight weeks.

    Liberty charges the same tuition rate of in-state and out-of-state students.

    Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  5. South Texas College
    Location

    McAllen, TX

    Tuition

    $1610

    Located in McAllen, South Texas College boasts more than 120 degree programs and employs more than 2,700 faculty members.

    The 60-credit online associate degree in criminal justice features introductory courses in criminal justice, ethics with an emphasis in criminal justice, business and professional communication, and federal government.

    Students can complete this associate in safety in about two years. Graduates land careers in law enforcement or juvenile detention facilities, or may transfer into a four-year bachelor's program.

    This college may ask applicants to complete a placement test. In-district and in-state students receive discounted tuition rates.

    South Texas College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  6. Saint Leo University
    Location

    Saint Leo, FL

    Tuition

    $20036

    Located in Florida, Saint Leo University boasts the oldest Catholic institution in the state and enrolls nearly 13,000 students.

    The 60-credit online associate degree in criminal justice features core courses in criminal procedure, criminal justice ethics, substantive criminal law, and crime scene investigation.

    This program encourages field placement internships with agencies like the U.S. Secret Service or the Drug Enforcement Agency. Graduates of the online associate degree in safety program can find careers as victim witness assistants or coast guard officers.

    Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Saint Leo may accept prior work experience as credit toward a student's degree.

    Saint Leo University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  7. Chaminade University of Honolulu
    Location

    Honolulu, HI

    Tuition

    $22913

    Located in Hawaii, Chaminade University of Honolulu enrolls over 1,000 students. The university boasts that 100% of students complete a service-learning project.

    The 60-credit online associate degree in criminology and criminal justice includes core classes in systems and management, juvenile justice system, criminal justice systems, and foundations in criminology.

    Students enrolled in the associate in safety must complete at least 15 credits at Chaminade, including at least nine credits of core courses. This program prepares students for transfer to a four-year program or a career related to law enforcement.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA and may choose to submit standardized test scores if they wish.

    Chaminade University of Honolulu is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

  8. Vance-Granville Community College
    Location

    Henderson, NC

    Tuition

    $3836

    Based in Henderson, North Carolina, Vance-Granville Community College participates in the North Carolina Community College System and offers more than 40 degree and certificate programs.

    The 65-credit online associate degree in criminal justice technology features core classes in law enforcement operations, criminal law, juvenile justice, and investigative principles. Online learners need about two years to complete their degree.

    Students in this online associate degree in safety learn the key components of the criminal justice system and how to apply constitutional rights.

    Applicants who submit standardized test scores do not need to sit for placement testing. North Carolina residents receive a discounted tuition rate.

    Vance-Granville Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  9. Copiah-Lincoln Community College
    Location

    Wesson, MS

    Tuition

    $4990

    Based in Wesson, Mississippi, Copiah-Lincoln Community College prepares learners to transfer into a four-year degree program or enter the workforce after two years.

    The 63-credit online associate degree in criminal justice includes introductory classes in police administration and organization, criminal justice, juvenile justice, and corrections.

    Online learners need about two years to complete their degree. Graduates of the associate in safety can find careers in law enforcement at the local, state, or federal level.

    Applicants must submit ACT scores or take a placement test with the community college. Co-Lin requires a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Co-Lin charges the same tuition rate for both in-state and out-of-state students.

    Copiah-Lincoln Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  10. Ozarka College
    Location

    Melbourne, AR

    Tuition

    $7049

    Based in Melbourne, Arkansas, Ozarka College enrolls around 2,500 students and prides itself on providing all learners with personalized attention from the faculty.

    The 60-credit online associate degree in criminal justice and corrections includes core courses in criminal evidence and procedure, police and community relations, the criminal justice system, and the American national government.

    Students in this online associate degree in safety gain a foundational understanding of victimization and criminality. This program teaches the essentials of constitutional rights and criminal justice regulations.

    Ozarka features an open admission policy, but does not guarantee admission to any particular degree program. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED equivalent. Arkansas residents receive a discounted tuition rate.

    Ozarka College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Safety Programs

Is an associate degree in safety worth it?

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Although an online associate degree can be a comparatively affordable option, as with nearly all postsecondary degrees, earning an online associate in safety is an investment of time and money. In-state learners who attend public or community colleges pay an average yearly tuition of $3,900.

Even so, this degree can be a worthwhile investment. An associate in safety degree prepares students who are passionate about serving their communities for careers in public safety. Although many of these roles require significant on-the-job training, an associate in safety can provide the foundational knowledge to help learners enter these professions and qualify for leadership positions.

How fast can I get an associate in safety degree online?

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Traditionally, an associate in safety requires two years of full-time study. However, some colleges may offer accelerated programs, which can take as little as one year to complete. Learners enrolled in self-paced, asynchronous programs can dictate how quickly they complete course requirements and possibly shorten their program length.

Students who have previously completed general education or AP courses may be able to transfer these credits to reduce their program length. In some cases, learners can also use their work or internship experiences to earn course credits.

Is an online associate degree in safety credible?

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In recent years, the availability of remote learning options has grown dramatically, and many reputable colleges and universities have increased their number of online offerings. Often, virtual students are taught by the same faculty members, learn the same course materials, and earn the same degrees as their in-person counterparts.

However, it is important to verify that colleges have earned institutional or programmatic accreditation from organizations like the National Environmental Health Science and Protection Accreditation Council and the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.

How much money can I make with an associate in safety?

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Many individuals with an associate degree in safety pursue well-paying careers. For example, as of 2021, law enforcement professionals like correctional officers earned a median annual salary of $47,920, while the top 10% of earners took home more than $79,340.

According to the BLS, firefighters earned a median annual salary of $50,700 in 2021, with those employed by the federal government earning a median salary of $55,330. Fire inspectors earned a median salary of $63,080 in the same year. Although security guards earned a median salary of $31,470, those employed by state government organizations earned a median salary of $75,490.

In an associate degree in safety in demand?

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There are several in-demand career paths for graduates with an associate degree in safety. The BLS projects that between 2020 and 2030, the number of jobs for fire inspectors will grow by 11%, and the number of jobs for security guards will grow by 15%, surpassing the average growth rate of 8% for all occupations.

During the same ten-year period, the BLS predicts that there will be 26,900 new jobs for firefighters and 51,700 new jobs for police and detectives.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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