A Guide to Online Security & Protective Services Degrees Accredited Online Degree Programs in Security & Protective Services

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Security and protective services are a rather large category of career types and fields, running the gamut from law enforcement to homeland security to computer science and cybersecurity. So, what is security and protective services exactly? For those interested in law enforcement, protecting people, protecting properties, or any of the other careers that intersect with these things, then you should understand they all fall under the educational and career category of security and protective services. This is a large field with an incredible number of opportunities for advancement, entrepreneurship, and further education.

What is Security and Protective Services?

This field is an ideal one for those who want to help people and businesses. Security and protective services exist at the street level, at the national level, and at every level between. For example, applicants can take a criminal justice path which can branch into many other careers that spring from that path.

Another example of how broad the security and protective services field really is can come from a look at corrections and correctional facilities. A security and protective services degree holder may want to work as a correctional officer or, alternatively, they may want to work in a capacity that allows them to better understand corrections or propose changes to it.

Science, data analysis, and even very physically demanding roles can all stem from a security and protective services degree. Administrative roles, leadership roles, and policymaking roles are just as reachable as the role of a firefighter, police officer, or bodyguard. Applicants will have a lot of choice in the matter, which is why security and protective services represent an excellent point to start from.

Many people find security and protective services worthwhile because it gives them the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of people around them and beyond. Those positive changes start with education, which is why this field is an ideal one to choose.

Job TitleRangeAverage
Security Officer$11 – $17$13
Security Supervisor$12 – $21$16
Security Guard$11 – $16$13
Security Officer Armed$12 – $21$15
Armed Security Guard$12 – $21$15
Security Officer/Guard$11 – $20$14
Security Manager$14 – $30$20
Payscale, 2021

Most Popular Schools with Online Security & Protective Services Degree Programs

States with the highest employment level in Security Services:

StateEmploymentAnnual mean wage 
New York119,130$34,390
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook
, Architects, 2019

Most Affordable Online Security & Protective Services Degree Programs

What Can You Do with an Online Security Degree?

Careers in security and protective services span across all industries, verticals, and fields. In a sense, an online security degree can open doors to a plethora of opportunities, even those that aren’t specifically tied to protective services security jobs. It’s no exaggeration to say the field is a vast one.

Because of how large the field and industry are, careers in security and protective services can take numerous paths. For applicants, it’s a good idea to start with a goal in mind and possibly even a map toward that goal. Changing careers within the field is still possible in most cases, so applicants shouldn’t feel they have to stick strictly to one path, especially if they want to move in a different direction later.

Some examples of security and protective services careers out there include all permutations of the following:

  • Homeland security
  • Retail loss prevention
  • Security guards
  • Corrections officer
  • Security and protection systems developers
  • Private detectives and investigators
  • Police officer
  • Fire safety
  • Counter-terrorism

Note that each of these career paths are security and protective services jobs that also have a high level of paths built into them. For example, a law enforcement officer can move into security positions, and may even take on the role of a security manager or administrator.

As these jobs encompass both public and private sectors, it’s possible to build credentials in one that can transfer over to the other. Or, it’s just as possible to stick to a particular niche, sector, or industry and amass experience in it. Still, a security and protective services job description can include criteria for applicants to have experience or specific background. In addition, the criteria for some jobs may have far more stringent requirements than others.

Public sector positions will typically have the highest level of requirements as government agencies usually need to meet heavy requirements and restrictions when choosing people for their security and protective services jobs. No matter what, this is still a career choice where education and experience can translate into increased opportunities and higher salaries.

What Are the Different Degree Types for Security and Protective Services?

Because of the broad nature of security and protective services, it’s possible to obtain an online degree of every level in the field. It’s also possible to obtain graduate degrees in other fields by starting with an undergraduate degree in security and protective services.

Associate’s in Security and Protective Services

An online associates degree in cyber security or online associates in homeland security both represent potential degrees in security and protective services. At the associates level, it’s possible to turn something like an associates degree in homeland security online into an entry-level position in the field.

Many jobs may require applicants to have at least an associates in one of the many security and protective services fields before they’re allowed to qualify, certify, or gain a license for that job. Not that many of the degree programs may not explicitly have the title of security and protective services. Some schools and programs may have a safety management degree, offer an online associates degree in cyber security, have an emergency management path, or some other degree type that falls under the category of security and protective services.

Bachelor’s in Security and Protective Services

A bacehlors in cyber security online or a homeland security bachelors degree online also represents an undergraduate degree but requires more education to obtain. With an online bachelors in cyber security, for example, applicants can often skip some of the qualifications that would slow them down if they only held an associates degree.

This applies to an online homeland security bachelor degree as well as any other security and protective service degree. Even when obtaining an entry-level position, the bachelor’s degree can often help applicants obtain a larger salary than someone with an associate’s would earn from the same position. For those serious about this career field, it’s often better to start their journey with an online bachelor’s degree.

Master’s in Security and Protective Services

The pursuit of an online cyber security masters degree or an online masters in homeland security typically means the applicant wants to specialize in their field and advance to positions currently out of their reach. While the mention here is for an online masters of cyber security or an online homeland security masters, a master’s degree isn’t limited to just those aspects of security and protective services.

The key here is that online master’s degrees are possible and obtainable for those who want to do more. But, an online cyber security masters gives a good illustration of where someone can go once they achieve a graduate degree. They are no longer someone who works in the cybersecurity field. They become, instead, a leader in the cybersecurity field.

In this way, an online masters of cyber security degree helps someone to obtain roles at the forefront, rather than just in the ranks. This applies to practically all security and protective services. It’s possible to obtain these higher positions and duties through experience and hard work in the field, but a master’s degree shows proficiency, pinpoint education, and helps to position applicants in front of others. 

Doctoral in Security and Protective Services

Yes, it’s possible to obtain a doctorate in cyber security online. At this level, an applicant will have the ability to not just lead, but an almost carte blanche to set policy, pioneer approaches in security and protective services, and generally have the regard of someone who knows the field inside and out.

A cyber security doctorate online can also lead someone into the highest levels of administration for a particular niche, service, or security field. For example, someone who wants to make changes to the laws involving cyber security, rather than just suggesting changes, may want to obtain their online doctorate in cyber security.

Someone who wants to teach homeland security principles may want to start by obtaining their online doctorate in homeland security to show their proficiency, knowledge, and ability to disseminate real information to those who need to learn it.

Who Gives Accreditation to Security and Protective Service Programs?

Because of its high number of specializations, there are several accrediting bodies for security and protective service programs. Applicants can find accreditation for the programs, but also accrediting bodies for niche or specific types of security and protective service programs. This industry thrives off certification and licensure more so than it does on accredited degree status. However, accreditation still means something, and it’s worth it to find schools and programs that have reputable accreditation of one form or another.

As with most colleges and universities, applicants should start with a school that has regional accreditation from one of the regional accrediting organizations recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the US Dept of Education. This ensures the overall school meets national education standards. From there, it can help to look for accreditation or backing from important groups in a particular industry or niche.

For example, an accredited online cyber security degree can have accreditation from a group, but that accredited cyber security degree may still need a few certifications along with it for someone who wants to work or advance in that field. In the case of security and protective service programs, do take note of any accredited statuses, but keep in mind that this field almost always requires applicants to pursue specific certificates or licenses.

Are There Any Certifications or Licensure Requirements for Security and Protective Services?

Certificates in security are of the utmost importance, this can apply to licensure as well. Many jobs absolutely require relevant security certifications for people who apply. In some cases, a job may hire someone into a position with the understanding that person will have achieved their relevant security certifications within a certain amount of time.

However, certificates in security vary widely. Applicants may not find overall all-encompassing security certifications that can account for every type of job in security and protective services. Different employers may require widely different security certifications or niches certifications that show an applicant has continued training or gained an education in a specific avenue of security of protective services.

For many public sector jobs, licensing is an absolute requirement. Even if an applicant shows up with their protective security specialist certification, they may need to gain further certifications or licenses to work for any government agency. Even in cases where general certificates in security can help, specialized ones can help more by placing applicants ahead of the pack. This is true for many industries in security, such as cybersecurity.

Applicants may need to gain certification to show proficiency with a specific piece of equipment or for specific situations that security personnel may find themselves in. Gathering security certifications is a great idea, but applicants who have a career plan should always seek to gain those certifications that will help them obtain the jobs they want or to move forward down that career path.

Keep in mind that even with education and a degree, an applicant may still need to go through further training to gain certification for a specific job. That can mean more class time and hours spent studying. Choosing an online degree program that can teach toward or incorporate the required training for a certain field’s certification can help speed things up greatly.

Additionally, certification and licensure doesn’t always carry over from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Even with a plethora of certifications in one state, it doesn’t always mean someone can use those same certifications in another state. However, national certifications do exist, but this all depends on the career path the applicant will want to take.

Are There Any Scholarships for Security and Protective Services Programs?

There are several security and protective services scholarships and grants available to prospective students in this field. Often, these scholarships appear when a particular role needs filling. For example, an applicant can drill down into scholarship searches by looking for scholarships for a particular subcategory of security.

Look for cyber security scholarships or homeland security scholarships, rather than just security scholarships. However, always remember that there are scholarships of all types that applicants can and should apply for, even if they’re not specifically security related. Scholarships for cyber security exist, but so does scholarships for other computer and networking disciplines that cyber security also plays a role in.

Governments also tend to offer scholarships for people who want to enter security and protective service programs with an eye toward the public sector. National security scholarships can work side by side with cyber security scholarships or other types of grants. Applicants should not limit their searches, but broaden them as they go.


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