Study Public Safety: Bachelor's, Associate & Online Degree Info

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What kind of jobs can you get with an associate's and bachelor's degree in public safety? Find out associate's and bachelor's degree requirements, online options and info on courses in public safety.
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Public Safety Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees at a Glance

A public safety program will prepare students to work in law enforcement, security, corrections, emergency medicine and firefighting. Students in these programs will learn about maintaining order and protecting individuals and property. While both associate's and bachelor's degree graduates will be prepared for entry-level employment, those with a bachelor's degree may be more qualified for advancement opportunities. While earning a degree will help individuals obtain a job related to public safety, some careers may require that they complete a rigorous training program. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from 2010-2020, police officers were projected to see a 7% growth in employment, while corrections officers may experience a 5% increase. During the same decade, careers for probation officers and security guards will grow 18%, and firefighter and EMT positions are expected to increase 9% and 33%, respectively.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals who want entry-level public safety jobs Those who want to obtain management positions or work at the federal level
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) -Police officer ($56,000) *
-Security guard (27,000) *
-Paramedic ($34,000) *
-Firefighter ($48,000) *
-Probation officer ($52,000*) *
-Federal corrections officer ($53,000) *
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements -About 20-24 courses
-About 40-48 graduate level courses
Prerequisites -High school diploma
-High school diploma
Online Availability Yes Yes

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


Associate's in Public Safety

Students enrolled in an associate's degree program in public safety may have the option to specialize in the career they want to obtain. For example, public safety programs may offer concentrations in corrections, police science, paramedics or fire protection. Students in this program will have an opportunity to learn about law and police procedures, public safety, criminal behavior, fire prevention and emergency dispatch. Graduates of this program will have an opportunity to begin their career or transfer their credits into a bachelor's degree program.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Personally rewarding careers
  • Demand for public safety will provide openings*
  • Careers available across the country

Cons

  • Rate of injuries is higher in these fields
  • Work nights and weekends
  • Jobs may be physically demanding

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

Students who want to take courses related to criminal justice will learn about criminology, juvenile justice, corrections and criminal procedures. Emergency management courses in a public safety program will cover areas in critical trauma care, cardiac life support, pediatric care and public safety management. Fire protection classes will teach students about hazardous materials, fire suppression, fire investigation and fire prevention.

Online Course Options

Students may be able to find online associate's degree program related to public safety. For example, fully online criminal justice programs are available for students who are currently working in the field or have personal obligations that prevent them from attending classes on campus. However, online programs won't provide students with the same concentration options, as EMT and fire protection programs require practicum courses in the field.

How to Stand Out

In order to protect the public, having strong leadership and communication skills will be beneficial no matter what your career. It's important that you make good decisions and are able to remain calm in stressful situations. Some positions, like police officers, security guards, correctional officers and firefighters, require professionals to have good strength and stamina.


Bachelor's in Public Safety

While an associate's degree program will prepare students for careers, a bachelor's degree may qualify individuals for management, administration and specialist positions. While students can pursue a bachelor's degree in public safety directly out of high school, some individuals will earn an associate's degree and begin their career before going back to complete a bachelor's degree program. Also, individuals who want to work at the federal level in corrections facilities or government agencies will need to have a bachelor's degree.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Get to oversee personnel
  • Work in an office environment
  • Opportunity to work at federal level

Cons

  • Compete with associate's degree graduates for entry-level jobs
  • Careers will be affected government budgets*
  • Work irregular hours

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Courses and Requirements

While students will take courses related to their specialty, they will also need to complete general educational requirements and core public safety management courses. General education requirements cover areas involving literature, humanities, psychology, science, mathematics and and sociology. Public safety management courses include public safety administration, security management foundations, strategic public safety and security, asset protection and fiscal management.

Online Course Options

Because public safety courses at the bachelor's degree level are often related to administration, programs are available in an online format. Some programs may require that students complete an associate's degree program prior to enrolling and will substitute work experience for an internship. Students will complete courses through a course management system, and communication will take place through e-mail or discussion boards.

How to Stand Out

Those working in a management or administrative role will need to have strong analytical and communication skills. These professionals will often need to think of problems before they occur and implement strategies to ensure that public remains safe. Some positions may require a lot of paperwork, so being organized and detail-oriented is also important. Those who want to continue to work in the field at the federal level will need to have the requisite strength and stamina as well.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AAS in Public Safety and Security
      • AAS in Public Safety and Security
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Colorado Christian University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Health Care Administration, A.S.
      • Health Care Administration, A.S.
  • Oklahoma City, OK

    Oklahoma State University

  • Blue Ash, OH

    University of Cincinnati

  • Paducah, KY

    West Kentucky Community and Technical College

  • Orem, UT

    Utah Valley University

  • Juneau, AK

    University of Alaska Southeast

  • Fairbanks, AK

    University of Alaska Fairbanks

  • Juneau, AK

    University of Alaska

  • Orrville, OH

    University of Akron Wayne College

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • AAS in Public Safety and Security

Which subject are you interested in?

Colorado Christian University

  • Health Care Administration, A.S.

What is your highest level of education completed?

West Kentucky Community and Technical College

Utah Valley University

University of Alaska Southeast

University of Alaska Fairbanks