Online Associates Degree in Law Enforcement

Associate degrees in law enforcement, or associate degrees in criminal justice with a law enforcement concentration, cover basic education coursework such as communications, English composition, humanities, math, and natural and social sciences. They focus on specific law enforcement coursework -- psychology of law enforcement, human relations, policing, violence in the U.S., ethics and more. Associate degrees in law enforcement also lay the groundwork for transition to a bachelor's degree.

You will also have to attend a police academy or training program to be able to become a police officer. Applicants for law enforcement generally need to be 21 years old, a U.S. citizen, physically fit, and able to pass a criminal and background check. Being bilingual could be an asset.

Law enforcement career options, outlook and salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects most law enforcement police and detective occupations to have average growth of approximately 10 percent between 2008 and 2018. Two law enforcement careers, however, are projected to have significantly higher job growth during that period; they are shown here with median wages for 2010:

  • Detectives and criminal investigators: 17 percent growth; median annual salaries of $68,820
  • Private detectives and investigators: 22 percent growth; median annual salaries of $42,870

The BLs reports that police and sheriff's patrol officers earned median salaries of $53,540 in 2010.

Taking your education further

If you have your sights set on federal law enforcement or law enforcement management, a bachelor's degree is generally required and a master's degree is often preferred. Master's degrees can have different focuses -- law enforcement intelligence and analysis could lead to a career in counterintelligence, terrorism prevention and Homeland Security while law enforcement and justice administration can bring research skills and theoretical and practical knowledge to administration

To work at the highest levels of government, in the U.S. and globally, and help formulate policies to prevent and control crime, delinquency, and terrorism, a doctoral degree is generally required. These programs focus on research into significant problems in the criminal justice field and making a unique contribution through publications to add to the body of criminology knowledge.

Whether you're interested in policing your community as a law-enforcement officer or continuing your online education through a bachelor's or master's degree to provide service to your country in customs, immigration, the FBI, the Federal Marshal service or even the Secret Service, it can all start with an online associate degree in law enforcement.

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