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Associate of Applied Science Degree


Associate of Criminal Justice Degree

The Law Enforcement Option provides students with a general understanding of the police officer’s multifaceted role in the United States. It also teaches the foundations of police work for possible employment opportunities with local, state, and federal governments, and private industry.

The Corrections Option imparts a broad understanding of correctional institutions and their alternatives. Students gain general preparation for employment in confinement facilities, institutional security, and other similar programs. They are also prepared to work in adult and juvenile correctional agencies at the local, state, and federal levels.

The Criminal Justice Program introduces students to three facets of the criminal justice system: police, courts, and corrections. The degree plan is broadly interdisciplinary in nature, embracing the study of law, the humanities, and the natural, behavioral, and social sciences. Theory is balanced with applied knowledge.

NOTE: To receive credit toward an associate degree, a student must earn a “C” or better in all courses.

Opportunities in Law Enforcement

Most law enforcement officers work in the security industry and for local, county, and state governments. Their duties range from providing security, to controlling traffic, to preventing and investigating crimes. They maintain order, enforce laws and ordinances, issue traffic summonses, investigate accidents, present evidence in court, serve legal documents for the court system, and apprehend, arrest, and process prisoners.

Career opportunities include positions as private investigators, security officers, loss-prevention officers, police officers, sheriff and deputy officers, criminal investigators, game wardens, private detectives, and bailiffs.

Opportunities in Corrections

Workers in the corrections field are responsible for overseeing individuals who have been arrested and are awaiting trial or who have been convicted of a crime and sentenced to serve time. Although the primary mission of corrections is to protect the public, many of the fields within corrections are devoted to the treatment, education, and reintegration of offenders.

Most officers are employed by local, county, state, and federal institutions. They typically work as wardens, jail administrators, program coordinators and counselors, public information officers, correctional trainers, case managers, probation/parole officers, corrections officers, and detention officers.

Other Law Enforcement Opportunities

The federal government also provides the opportunity for attractive public service that is challenging and involves a great deal of personal responsibility. Most federal law enforcement agencies typically require a four-year bachelor’s degree. Career opportunities may be found with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, U.S. Drug Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Postal Service, U.S. Marshals, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, and the Department of Homeland Security. Federal agencies employ police and special agents with sworn arrest powers and the authority to carry firearms. Such agencies are the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Forest Service, and the National Park Service.

Many law enforcement agencies encourage the applicants to take post-secondary school training in law enforcement-related subjects. Many entry-level applicants for police jobs have completed some formal post-secondary education and a significant number are college graduates. Knowledge of a foreign language is an asset in many federal agencies and urban departments.

Job Outlook

Law enforcement officers in many agencies may retire with a pension after 20 or 25 years of service, often allowing them to pursue a second career while still in their 40s. Because of relatively attractive salaries and benefits, the number of qualified candidates exceeds the number of job openings in federal law enforcement agencies and in most state police departments. The result has been higher hiring standards and increased selectivity by employers. Competition should remain keen for higher paying jobs with state and federal agencies and local police departments in more affluent areas. Opportunities will be better in local and special police departments, especially in departments that offer relatively low salaries, or in urban communities where the crime rate is relatively high.

Applicants with college training in police science, military police experience, or both, should have the best opportunities. Employment in the corrections field is projected to grow more than 36 percent.  Vigorous law enforcement is expected to cause a continuing increase in the prison population. In addition to openings that result from growth, many openings will be created by replacement needs, especially openings created by workers entering retirement.


Local and state law enforcement officers had median annual earnings of $42,270 with the middle 50 percent between $32,300 and $53,500. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $25,270, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $65,330. Probation officers’ earnings were $30,770 to $50,550, correctional offers earned $25,950 to $42,620, private detectives and investigators earned $21,980 to $41,710, and security guards averaged between $15,910 to $23,920, for starting pay.

Additional information on professional requirements and qualifications may be obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, at www.bls.gov.

For more information, call the program office at
(575) 527-7640.