What Criminal Justice Careers Could I Get with an Associate Degree?


baliff in court
Criminal Justice is an interesting and exciting major that can lead to a variety of careers. Even with an associate degree, you could be prepared for entry-level work in security, corrections, courts, or private investigation. Which would you choose?

Here are some careers to consider with an Associate degree in Criminal Justice:

Security Officer

Security officers are needed everywhere, from college campuses to retail stores and other businesses. Your degree will teach you some important basics, and you’ll also receive lots of on-the-job training. Depending on your organization and responsibilities, you might work closely with external law enforcement agencies. As a college campus security officer, you respond to student complaints and violations, and patrol campus to ensure the safety of students and college property. If you work as a security officer in a retail environment, you help ensure customer safety and protect companies from merchandise loss and damage. In a casino, you might work in gambling surveillance, making certain players, employees, and staff all adhere to rules of play and corporate policies. Because many casinos are open 24 hours a day, your services would be needed around the clock. Some security officers work at a particular location such as in a gatehouse or at a security desk, or patrol large areas by car or on foot.

Overall employment of security guards and gambling surveillance officers is projected to grow faster than average through 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Private Investigator

Although you might land a gig as an investigator without a degree, you’ll bring more value to your company and clients if you know your way around the criminal justice system and surveillance techniques. Especially if you work for a law firm or insurance company, you’ll need a high degree of professionalism, research abilities, and business savvy. As a private investigator, you might do background checks, verify criminal allegations, find evidence of wrongdoing, help locate missing persons, or even help solve crimes. Many law firms use private investigators to track down evidence or establish witness credibility, and insurance companies hire them to check out suspected fraudulent claims. Depending on the type of work you do, you might work in the field doing surveillance, or you might work out of an office, doing online research and investigating computer crimes. In addition to any degree and experience you bring to the job, you’ll also need to be licensed by your state to be a private investigator.

According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for private detectives and investigators is expected to grow faster than average through 2030, due to an increased amount of identity theft, internet scams, and insurance fraud.

Corrections Officer

As a corrections officer, you work in jails and prisons to supervise inmates and enforce facility rules and regulations. You escort inmates during transport, inspect cells for contraband items, and ensure the facilities meet safety and security standards. Your main goal would be to prevent disturbances, assaults, and escapes, and to protect inmates. You would also write reports and fill out daily logs that can later be used to determine if the prisoner is eligible for parole or early release. While some facilities only require a high school diploma, most correctional officer positions, particularly in federal prisons, look for candidates with at least an Associate degree.


“Order in the court. Order in the court.” If you’ve ever heard that utterance on a TV crime show or courtroom drama, the person shouting the phrase was likely a uniformed bailiff. Also known as court officers, bailiffs have the important job of providing security and maintaining order during legal proceedings and trials. In this role, you announce the arrival of the judge and bring a courtroom to order. Considered a neutral party, you are allowed to handle evidence for either side of a case and it’s your job to enforce the rules of the courtroom, deliver documents, guard juries, and protect judges. You call witnesses to the stand, ask them to take an oath to tell the truth, and oversee the proceedings of the courtroom. You might even help to ensure that people obey the rules outside of the courtroom, making sure that lawyers, witnesses, and jury members don’t do anything to upset the outcome a legal proceeding.

At National American University, we offer an Associate and Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice. Do you already have some experience or a certificate in a Criminal Justice field? You may be able to transfer those credits to your degree program so you can start ahead. Call 800-209-0182 to speak to a counselor or click learn more now to get started on the journey to a new career.


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