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Degree Overview: Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree in Criminal Justice: Private Security Option

Majors Overview December 12, 2013

Those interested in private security may obtain an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in justice administration or criminal justice with a focus on protective services or private security. These programs provide the training and knowledge required for security officer careers for public interests and private companies.

A.A.S. Programs in Criminal Justice (Private Security Option)

Students enrolled in degree programs in criminal justice or justice administration are sometimes offered in-degree certificates, concentrations, or coursework customized private security training needs.

Students have to complete general education classes in public speaking, composition, sociology and psychology that underscore the communication and interpersonal skills necessary for interaction with and protection of the public. Criminology and administration of justice classes are devised to impart knowledge to students about how to interview and observe people for dangerous or suspicious behavior, as also about the legal system and courts, as well as the various levels of government.

Some programs allow students to transfer earned credits if the students have corrections or law enforcement experience after completing a training academy. Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma.


Through associate’s degree-level administration of justice or criminal justice degree programs, students are provided a broad overview of justice and criminology topics, with more directed job training imparted via private security options. Coursework in an AAS degree program in criminal justice with a private security option may include subject areas such as:

•Homeland security or counterterrorism
•Juvenile delinquency
•Criminal law
•Local, state or federal government
•Constitutional law
•Investigation methods
•Police report writing
•Security administration

Career Choices

There are job opportunities available in various work settings for unarmed and armed security professionals, wherever there’s a perception of the need to promote the safety of people, protect property against damage, theft or vandalism, and maintain law and order in crowds. Security guards and officers are employed in various private and public settings, such as government buildings, public spaces, educational institutions, commercial properties, retail outlets and industrial sites. Licensure, where required, appropriate training and a blemish-less criminal record can help AAS graduates get employed in various roles such as:

•Loss prevention officers
•Private security guards
•Campus security officers
•Transportation screeners

Continuing Education Choices

While students enrolled in a justice administration or criminal justice AAS may seek jobs in the security industry, they may also opt for continued education by transferring credits to a Four-year degree program devised to give them additional training in security management or criminal justice. Coursework in a bachelor’s degree program includes subject areas such as security administration, research methods, and criminal theory among others.

Where the job requires the use of firearms or specialized security devices, candidates for many security positions may need to undergo additional training before they can be employed (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). Many states insist on licensure for security guards with continuing education need for the maintenance of such licensure.

Apart from training and licensure, voluntary certification will also help security professionals to enhance their career prospects by showcasing their knowledge and skills in the field to potential recruiters. They may choose from credentials offered by ASIS International including the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) credential awarded to security management professionals after they complete a multiple-choice exam on industry skills and topics. ASIS International’s certifications are available to bachelor’s degree holders with seven years of work experience in the field; alternatively, nine years of work experience would suffice if the candidate did not hold a bachelor’s degree.

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