An online associate degree in criminal justice prepares students for careers as police officers, firefighters, and private investigators. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), police officers and detectives earned a median annual salary of $67,290 in 2020. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 5% between 2019 and 2029, a rate faster than the national average.

Students can also use their associate degree in criminal justice as a stepping stone toward a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or a related field. Most colleges allow students to transfer all credits from an associate degree, drastically reducing completion times for a bachelor's program.

Should I Get an Associate in Criminal Justice?

Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects solid job growth for many criminal justice professionals, including police officers and detectives (5%), fire inspectors (8%), and security guards (3%).

An associate degree in criminal justice prepares graduates for many entry-level positions in the field. Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects solid job growth for many criminal justice professionals, including police officers and detectives (5%), fire inspectors (8%), and security guards (3%).

An online associate degree in criminal justice takes full-time enrollees about two years to complete. Part-time students may need more time to complete their degree. Students can also find accelerated programs to earn their degree faster.

Most criminal justice careers require additional training or certification. For example, firefighters must attend state-run fire academies. Prospective students should consider these additional training requirements as they create their career plan.

Some graduates use their associate degree in criminal justice to pursue a bachelor's in criminal justice. Students can reduce the time it takes to earn their bachelor's by transferring credit from their associate degree.

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What Will I Learn in a Criminal Justice Associate Program?

An associate degree in criminal justice generally covers topics like the U.S. judicial and correctional systems, cultural awareness, and communication skills. Learners also explore the U.S. criminal justice system, including upcoming legislation and court cases that could impact laws at a federal level. Students also learn the basics of dispute resolution and victim advocacy.

Colleges and universities may offer a criminal justice degree as an associate of arts (AA) or an associate of science (AS). These programs typically include the same curriculum. However, an AA program may emphasize communication skills, while an AS program may offer more technical classes.

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What Can I Do With an Associate in Criminal Justice?

An online associate degree in criminal justice prepares graduates for careers in law enforcement, advocacy, and corrections. Graduates can also transfer their associate degree credits to a four-year degree in criminal justice.

Though an associate degree qualifies graduates for entry-level positions, many criminal justice careers require additional certification or training. For example, police officers must attend a training academy regardless of their education level.

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How Much Money Can I Make With an Associate in Criminal Justice?

Professionals with an associate degree in criminal justice earn varying salaries depending on their education, experience, title, and location. An associate degree may help professionals earn more in careers that only require a high school or GED diploma.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Criminal Justice Programs

What is criminal justice?

The criminal justice system encompasses government agencies and organizations dedicated to preventing, catching, and rehabilitating criminals who break federal and local laws. Professionals in criminal justice careers uphold laws and protect ordinary citizens. They can also work in victim advocacy and as lawyers.

What kind of jobs can I get with an associate in criminal justice?

An associate degree in criminal justice prepares students for entry-level positions with law enforcement and security. Graduates can pursue careers as police officers and detectives, correctional officers and bailiffs, fire inspectors, and security guards. Students can also use their associate degree in criminal justice as a stepping stone to a bachelor's degree in a related field.

How much does it cost to get an associate in criminal justice?

Associate in criminal justice programs typically range from $6,000-$22,000. However, tuition costs vary depending on the type of institution, enrollees' residency status, and how long it takes learners to earn the degree. Generally, in-state students at community or state colleges pay the lowest tuition rates.

Is an associate in criminal justice worth it?

An online associate degree in criminal justice prepares students for the workforce or further education. Salaries for criminal justice careers range from $29,710-$60,230, though salary outlook differs based on experience, education, title, and location.

How long does it take to get an associate in criminal justice?

An associate degree in criminal justice takes about two years to complete. Part-time students may need longer to graduate. Some colleges offer accelerated programs for students interested in a faster graduation timeline. Universities may also offer credit to students with previously completed official training through a law enforcement academy.