What Can I Do with an Associate's in Criminal Justice?

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There are many ways you can effectively use an associates in criminal justice degree. This is not a one size fits all pathway, as there are so many opportunities within the discipline that students and professionals can focus on. You will see this by the program options at hand. Many have specializations that students can choose. For example, if being a police officer is your ultimate goal, you might want to consider a program that features law enforcement as a primary learning pathway. When thinking about associates in criminal justice jobs think about all of the people that are supposed to be keeping our society safe. There are a wide range of 2 year criminal justice degree jobs that cover a lot of bases in terms of the safety and social service industries. There are many topics covered in the field of criminal justice including sociology and psychology as they related to behavioral science. Other topics include forensic science, biology, the foundations of the legal system, classes that include written and oral communication, and a variety of general education classes that are transferable to four year bachelors degree programs in any discipline. The majority of criminal justice associates degree jobs have plenty of room for growth and future opportunities. Take a look and see what some of the options are:

Police officer

No surprise here, but many students who participate in criminal justice associates degree programs go into the police force. It’s not an obvious portal, however, as far as the requirements go for different police academics. While a criminal justice degree is an excellent foundation for police officers, this does not forgo the police academy requirement. In many cases both credentials are mandatory. The police academy also offers a curriculum in laws, civil rights, and ordinances, while also offering the necessary hands on training like using firearms appropriately and effectively. We all have a broad idea of what the duties of a police officer are, as citizens are aware of their roles in society. They patrol streets, enforce laws, give traffic citations, and they are often required to testify in court. 

Private Investigators

Again, this is a field where the credentials vary considerably. However, most people that become private investigators have an academic background in criminal justice. In many cases, they then achieve an additional credential as per state requirements. Some states require a specific in state license. This has become a more in demand field as cyber crimes and identity theft has increased exponentially. This career path has a positive outlook, as it is expected to grow steadily until 2022. 

Correctional Officer

As far as criminal justice associates degree jobs go, correctional officer in one you may hear a lot about. Many people that graduate from associates degree program pathways are interested in engaging in the corrections industry. There might be additional programming beyond an associates necessary for those interested in entering this field. This may include classes that focus on controlling contraband, self defence, mediation, and rehabilitation. There is never a shortage of these careers, and there often extensive opportunities for growth. 


This is the job that works as the right hand of any lawyer. They do a lot of the back of the house work, including document preparation, investigation of testimonies, research of case specifics, and hearing preparation, among many other pertinent tasks. An associates degree in criminal justice is an excellent starting point for any paralegal. This is often a career that helps prospective lawyers get their feet work in the field of law and determine whether or not they are interested in going farther in their legal coursework. 

Fish and Game Warden

This is an excellent career pathway for anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to oversee activities such as fishing and hunting. The daily activities of fish and game wardens usually involve patrolling wilderness areas and ensuring that laws related to boating, fishing, and hunting are enforced. A criminal justice associates degree is the perfect foundation for this career path, as it is important that those who work in this world have a full understanding of the law. Some states, however, require fish and game wardens to have bachelors degrees. 

What can I do With a Criminal Justice Associates Degree?

There are many ways to engage in the industry of justice and enforcement. This degree path is an excellent foundation for most careers in the field. Take a look at the programs offered and you can get a sense of what specializations are available to inform the careers that interest you most. It doesn’t hurt to consider what’s next. You may want to get a bachelors in criminal justice or go even farther upon completion of your associates.


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Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?