Private Security Degrees: Associate, Bachelor & Online Class Info

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What kind of jobs can you get with an associate's and bachelor's degree in private security? Find out associate's and bachelor's degree requirements, online options and info on courses in private security programs.
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Private Security Associate's and Bachelor's Degree Programs at a Glance

No formal education is required to work as a private security guard, and private security programs are not available at the associate's and bachelor's degree level; however, private security principles will be covered in security management programs. Students who want to earn a degree in a security-related area may improve their employment opportunities as a security guard or pursue careers in law enforcement or corrections. In order to work a security guard, you will need to become licensed within your state; additional licensure is needed to carry a firearm.

Private security guards are employed by individuals or companies looking to protect a person or property. While some guards will travel as part of a team and protect celebrities and public figures, others will work on location and patrol an area by foot or on monitors. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for security guards are projected to grow 18% from 2010-2020.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals who want to improve employment opportunities as a private security guard Those who want to work in security management
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Security guard ($27,000) *
- Correctional officer ($43,000) *
- Police officer ($56,000) *
- Private detective ($49,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 4 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - About 20-24 courses
- 40-48 courses
- Internship
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in Security Management

Students pursuing an associate's degree in security management will learn how to identify perceived threats and respond to emergency situations. This is a 2-year program that combines general education requirements with security management courses. In addition to pursuing careers in private security, you will also have the option to continue your education at the bachelor's degree level. However, experience may be preferred over education, and you will compete with high-school graduates for employment.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Opportunity to continue education
  • Post-secondary education may be preferred*
  • Part-time work is available

Cons

  • Work in dangerous situations
  • Background check is required
  • Need to work nights and weekends

*Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Course and Requirements

Courses in a security management program are going to cover all areas of security. You will learn about National security, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, boarder security, criminal justice, homeland security and emergency response. The program may also require students to complete a capstone project that prepares students to take command in an emergency situation. This is an opportunity to coordinate responses during a natural disaster, rescue operations, hazardous spills and hostage crisis. Students are also required to complete general education requirements in math, English, arts and humanities.

Online Course Options

Students who are already working in the field and don't have the time to attend classes on-campus can find fully online associate's degree programs in security management. Online programs provide the same content as on-campus programs; however, students will be able to complete all assignments through a course management system. Students need basic computer skills to enroll in the program and must have a computer with high-speed Internet access.

How to Stand Out

While an associate's degree may give you an advantage when seeking employment, it's also important that security guards have the physical strength to handle offenders. Working in security also requires individuals to have good decision-making skills and be alert at all times. Because the goal of a security management team is to protect people and property, guards and those working in management must be honest and trustworthy.

Bachelor's in Security Management

A bachelor's degree in security management is going to open up additional career opportunities. Students will take advanced courses involving leadership and security management strategies. The program combines elements of law enforcement, intelligence, security and emergency management to handle potential crisis. Students will have the opportunity to take business courses and learn how to manage employees, operate a business and deal with financial matters. However, even with a bachelor's degree, you will still need to earn licensure from your state.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Better prepared for licensure
  • Additional career opportunities
  • Gain experience in all areas of security

Cons

  • Still need to obtain licensure
  • Must go through rigorous screening process*
  • Experience may trump education

*Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Course and Requirements

The first two years of the program may be similar to those in an associate's degree program, and students will take foundational courses involving security and general education requirements. Higher-level courses will cover areas like asset protection and management, security management foundations, emergency preparedness and crisis management. The program may also require that students complete an internship in order to gain practical and professional experience in the field.

Online Course Options

Bachelor's degree programs in security management are also available online. Those working in the field can enroll in an online program and improve their knowledge and skills in security management. Courses are taught by the same professors who teach on-campus, and communication will take place through e-mail, discussions forums and chat rooms.

How to Stand Out

While licensure will still be necessary to work in security and a bachelor's degree will increase employment opportunities, obtaining certification may help you stand out further in the field. Certification is available through the ASIS International; this organization offers the Certified Protection Professional designation. Earning certification will verify a security professional's knowledge and skills in the field.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Criminal Justice
      • AAS in Public Safety and Security
      • AAS in Criminal Justice and Criminology
      • Associate: Fire Science
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. Criminal Justice
      • A.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
      • Associate of Arts - Homeland Security
  • Online Programs Available
    4. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Excelsior College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AS in Science in Criminal Justice
  • Marysville, CA

    Yuba College

  • Youngstown, OH

    Youngstown State University

  • East Hartford, CT

    Goodwin College

  • Rock Hill, SC

    York Technical College

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Associate: Criminal Justice
  • AAS in Public Safety and Security
  • AAS in Criminal Justice and Criminology

Which subject are you interested in?

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. Criminal Justice
  • A.S. General Studies - Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Associate of Arts - Criminal Justice
  • Associate of Arts - Homeland Security

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Associate of Science in Criminal Justice

Are you a US citizen?

Excelsior College

  • AS in Science in Criminal Justice

What is your highest level of education completed?

Yuba College

Youngstown State University