I’ve Got an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice: What Kind of Jobs Can I Get?

In the field of criminal justice, there’s no shortage of degree programs you can choose from. Some of the decisions you will have to make are between online and physical (brick-and-mortar) programs, and specializations such as law enforcement, corrections and the legal system. In addition, there are programs that treat crime through a sociological focus (these are usually specified as criminology programs.)

But another big decision to make is the actual degree level that you will seek. In most cases, the bachelor’s degree is the standard that the majority of people shoot for. For some high-level research and policy positions, an advanced degree (such as a master’s or even a doctorate) will be required.

But for many people, an associate’s degree is more realistic. It takes less time to complete (usually two years), can be done part-time and will usually result in much less student debt. But what impact will this have on the careers that you are qualified for?

What Can You Do With an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice?

Specifically in the field of criminal justice, an associate’s degree can lead to a number of possibilities. In many settings, there will be a variety of entry level positions that you will be qualified for. Some of these areas include:


Police Officer

Private Security

Probation Officer

Airport Security


Corrections Officer

Private Security

Computer Forensics Staff

Remember to check with the organizations or agencies you are interested in before beginning your studies. Some might have stricter requirements, such as a bachelor’s degree.

On the other hand, some of these jobs might not actually have explicit education requirements beyond a high-school diploma. In these cases it is usually a thorough training process that you will have to pass in order to be considered for a job.

As always, be sure to check at actual job listings for the type of positions you seek before making any major decisions.

A Strong Step Towards a Bachelor’s

Another popular thing to do with your associate’s in criminal justice is to use it as a springboard to further education, such as transferring to a four-year college or university and completing a bachelor’s in less time. Some would even use it in order to pursue law school in the future, but you’ll want to read our article on criminology and law school before deciding on that path.

Moving up the Ladder in a Current Position

Finally, one of the big reasons for going for an associate’s degree is that it is more flexible and can be completed on a part-time basis. If you are currently employed in a setting that is at all related to criminal justice or law, you might qualify for a promotion or pay raise if you get the degree.

If you’re interested in an associate’s degree program in criminal justice, let us know in the comments below.