A two-year associate's degree in criminal justice can qualify you for a number of different careers. Some careers in the criminal justice field require a degree in this field or an equivalent degree in a field like police science or forensic psychology. Criminal justice degrees emphasize study of evidence collection, forensic analysis and criminal psychology. Students also complete general education courses in areas like psychology and communication.
Police officers are commonly required to have at least a two year associate's degree in criminal justice or a related field. The requirements can vary from community to community, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that an associate's degree or at least two years of college are common qualifications. Police officers must be aware of the basic aspects of the criminal justice system and need to develop excellent interpersonal communication skills and a strong understanding of human relations and psychology.
Some states have a minimum education requirement for private investigators of a two-year degree, though the BLS points out that most of their training is obtained on the job. However, in states where licensing is required, some minimum education levels are set. A two-year degree in criminal justice can provide the private investigator with a broad enough foundation in investigative skills to go into private practice or work for detective agencies.
Crime Scene Investigator
Crime scene investigators can also begin a career in the criminal justice field by obtaining a criminal justice associate's degree. Crime scene investigators collect and analyze evidence. Although a degree in forensic science will provide a crime scene investigator with a more technical background in the field, a criminal justice degree will provide her with opportunities outside of the forensics field. Taking additional courses in biology and chemistry can help the criminal justice major in securing an investigator's position.
Correctional officers work in jails and prisons overseeing the accused and the convicted. Although a high school education is the minimum requirement in most jurisdictions, the BLS notes that some local and state correctional facilities require an associate's degree in criminal justice.