Law enforcement is challenging work that demands significant training. If you’re preparing for a career in police work or law enforcement, an associate degree in law enforcement can help you get there. Through an associate degree program, you can learn current law enforcement tactics, as well as develop skills in gathering evidence and interviewing criminal suspects and witnesses. Upon completion, graduates are prepared for criminal justice work, such as a police officer or detective. They may also continue their studies and go on to study law at the bachelor’s or master’s degree levels and go into criminal law.
Why an Associate Degree?
An associate degree in law enforcement can be the first step towards a career in criminal justice, such as a police officer or law enforcement officer. Educational requirements can vary for the field, though according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many agencies require some college coursework or a college degree. An associate can also be put towards a more advanced degree, such as a bachelor’s in law enforcement or related area, for those looking to advance or practice law.
Getting Into an Associate Degree Program
Requirements for online law enforcement associate degrees will vary by program. But here’s what you generally need to apply:
- High school diploma or its equivalent
Inside a Law Enforcement Associate Degree Program
An online associates degree in law enforcement usually takes about two years to complete, depending in the program and the student’s experience. For example, it may be shorter for students with law enforcement certificates. The degree provides students with a deeper understanding of law enforcement, covering topics in criminology, juvenile justice, policing in America, and criminal procedure. Students will also be able to develop skills in areas such as interviewing, crisis management, criminal report writing, evidence handling, and criminal behavior monitoring.
Not everything in a law enforcement degree may be taught virtually. Some online programs may also train students in policing skills, such as firearms training. In this case, students would be expected to go through an on-site, third-party provider, for hands-on experience.
What’s Next for Law Enforcement Associate Degree Holders?
An associate degree in law enforcement can lead to a number of promising career paths in criminal justice. Commonly, graduates may go on to work in law enforcement as police officers. Employment of police is expected to grow by 7% from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS. Others may go on to work as correctional officers. This profession is expected to grow by 5% through the end of this decade, according to the BLS.
An associate degree in law enforcement can also provide a foundation for continued study at the undergraduate level. Graduates would be prepared for bachelor’s degree programs in such areas as criminal justice, law, or law enforcement, which would open up even more potential job opportunities and senior positions. It can also pave the way for a career in criminal law as a lawyer or prosecutor, which would require a master’s degree.