An online public safety degree can help prepare you for career opportunities in this in-demand sector.The field of public safety encompasses a variety of specializations, ranging from disaster management to law enforcement tactics and public safety policy. Positive job growth is also projected for many public safety occupations, including law enforcement professionals, over the next ten years.
You can read on to learn about some of the different degree tracks, career paths, and certifications available in the public safety sector.
Online Public Safety Degrees
There are several online bachelor’s in public safety degrees to choose from. The one that’s right for you will depend on your specific interests and career goals. Some public safety majors include criminal justice, emergency management and homeland security, fire science, law enforcement, and public safety administration.
Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:
- Bachelor in Criminal Justice
- Bachelor in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
- Bachelor in Fire Science
- Bachelor in Law Enforcement
- Bachelor in Public Safety Administration
Regardless of the specialty you select, you will still receive a strong foundation in public safety and related courses.
Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice
Bachelor in criminal justice programs are designed to provide you with a comprehensive overview of the criminal justice system.
Some criminal justice careers include criminal investigator, caseworker, child and youth worker, homeland security agent, police officer, and FBI agent. As part of your studies, you may take various course topics related to the juvenile justice system, legal issues in corrections, criminology, criminal investigations, crime in media, and policing in America.
Bachelor’s in Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Emergency management and homeland security programs are intended to provide you with an understanding of the various security and emergency management practices, theories, and operations that exist in the field.
Common careers in this sector include homeland security agents, security analysts, emergency management directors, consultants, border patrol agents, disaster management specialists, and military personnel. As part of your studies, you may take courses on domestic security management, crisis management, legal issues in security, and border security and transportation.
Your coursework will likely include an introduction to public administration and disaster management as well.
Bachelor’s in Fire Science
Bachelor in fire Science degree programs are designed to provide you with an understanding of fire safety and management protocols. This can include how to safely fight fires, the importance of building codes in fire safety, and concepts in fire prevention.
Some professionals with this degree work as fire investigators, fire and industrial safety inspectors, fire prevention specialists, firefighters, or emergency management directors. In your degree program, you may take various courses on fire and emergency services, fire behavior, principles of emergency services, and fire investigation and analysis.
Your coursework can also cover fire prevention management, political and legal issues in emergency services, and community risk reduction.
Bachelor’s in Law Enforcement
Bachelor in law enforcement degree programs are intended to provide an overview of the criminal justice system and police response tactics.
Common careers for law enforcement professionals include correctional officer, emergency management director, police officer, detective, security guard, and probation officer. Your program may include courses related to crime analysis, effective policing strategies, criminal justice, and leadership skills in policing. You can also take courses on patrol practices, community policing, and crisis intervention for first responders.
Bachelor’s in Public Safety Administration
Public safety administration degree programs are designed to provide a broad understanding of fundamental public safety practices and concepts.
A bachelors in public safety administration can help prepare you to take on a variety of frontline or administrative roles in the field of public safety. Frontline careers in public safety include police officers, fire inspectors, and homeland security agents. Administrative roles include emergency management director and operations specialties manager.
As part of your studies, you may take courses in public safety administration, public safety strategic planning, and public safety law. Your courses might also cover public safety research, information systems in organizations, public safety administration ethics, and public safety leadership.
Public Safety Careers & Salaries
An online bachelor in public safety degree program can help prepare you for roles in public safety management or public security.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, public safety positions can range across various industries. These industries can include healthcare, social services, education, professional services, government, finance, and insurance.
|Careers||Annual Median Salaries|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$101,340|
|Detectives and Criminal Investigators||$83,640|
|Emergency Management Directors||$76,730|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$74,000|
|Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers||$64,610|
|Probation Officers and Correctional Treatment Specialists||$60,250|
|Public Safety Telecommunicators||$46,670|
|EMTs and Paramedics||$36,930|
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that several positions in the field of public safety will experience positive job growth over the next ten years. This includes positions like emergency management directors (6%), police and detectives (7%), public safety telecommunicators (8%), and fire inspectors (11%).
Public Safety Bachelor’s Curriculum & Courses
When enrolling in an online degree in public safety, you’ll take a number of courses specific to this field of study. These courses may include:
- Introduction to Public Safety Administration: You can develop an understanding of the fundamental functions and concepts in the field of public safety in the private and public sectors.
- Contemporary Public Safety Practices: You’ll learn about hazard and risk identification best practices, quality control, integrated safety services, and risk analysis.
- Public Safety Planning: You’ll explore methods used to develop strategic planning and operational public safety management, including a look at budget allocation, resource allocation, and plan implementation.
- Public Safety Issues: You’ll examine the different issues and challenges faced by public safety professionals in their day-to-day work.
- Legal and Public Policy Issues in Public Safety: This course is a review of the public safety law that professionals may come across as well as the impact of the legal system and political environment on public safety issues and policy development.
- Public Safety Research and Technology: You’ll explore the various technologies and research applications utilized in the field of public safety.
- Information Systems in Organizations: You’ll examine different information systems used within organizations and used by public safety professionals specifically.
- Public Safety Administration Ethics: You can develop an awareness and understanding of various ethical issues and behavior in the field of public safety.
- Public Safety Leadership: You’ll learn about various theories of public safety leadership along with key leadership skills, styles, and performance models.
- Managerial Finance: This course is a review of essential financial skills for managers in non-financial fields, such as public safety.
In addition to taking various public safety-specific courses, you’ll also be required to complete several general core education courses to graduate with your degree.
When applying for enrollment into a public safety major degree program, you may be required to meet several admissions criteria, such as:
- High school diploma or equivalent
- Official transcripts from high school studies
- Admissions essay
- SAT or ACT scores (only some schools require them)
If you’ve previously completed coursework in a postsecondary educational program, you are generally required to submit your course transcripts from those studies as well.
Regional accreditation is a status that is granted to schools that meet a predetermined set of quality standards in terms of academic offerings and available student services.
The accreditation status of your school is an important consideration since it can impact your ability to transfer credits into another school or program. It can also impact your ability to receive financial assistance or apply to graduate studies down the road.
The accreditation status of the school you choose to attend can also play a role in potential employers’ hiring decisions.
Public Safety Certifications
While public safety certifications are not always required for employment, earning them can often be advantageous and beneficial for your career.
Here are just a few certifications in the field of public safety:
- Certified Emergency Manager
- Certified Fire Inspector
- Associate Emergency Manager
Earning public safety certifications can offer you the opportunity to showcase your expertise, knowledge, and skill. Holding certification can also help make you a competitive candidate in the workforce.
The certifications that work best for you will depend on your areas of interest and your career goals. Your bachelor’s degree major or concentration can also influence the types of certifications that you may want to pursue.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
While pursuing an online public safety degree comes with costs, there may be several financial aid options available to you that can help ease the financial burden, including:
- Federal or state aid
- Government-funded work-study programs
- Employer training programs
Scholarships can be offered by either public or private organizations. In some cases, scholarships may be targeted to students that are pursuing a particular stream of education or area of study.
Financial aid in the form of grants and loans is often offered by both federal and state governments. For more information on financial assistance opportunities that may be available to you, you can visit the US Department of Education’s website.
Public Safety Professional Organizations
Participating in a public safety professional organization may offer you several benefits throughout your studies and career. For instance, these organizations can offer excellent networking opportunities, allowing you to meet other like-minded public safety professionals.
Here are some professional organizations in the field of public safety:
- American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP)
- Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO International)
- International Public Safety Association (IPSA)
Joining a public safety professional organization may allow you to meet potential employers or clients, stay up to date on emerging trends in the industry, or get access to training and conference events.
What Can You Do with a Public Safety Degree?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an online bachelor’s degree in public safety can help you qualify for a range of careers in this sector.
Common public safety careers include police and detectives, firefighter, fire inspector, and public safety telecommunicators. Some professionals with experience in the fieldwork as operations specialties managers, emergency management directors, and administrative services and facilities managers.
Your chosen major and concentration can impact the types of positions available to you. The role that’s right for you can also depend on your previous experience, your geographical location, and your industry of choice, among other factors.
What Are Some High-Paying Careers in Public Safety?
While there’s a wide range of career choices in the public safety sector, there are some positions that tend to pay higher than others.
For example, emergency management directors make a median salary of $76,730 per year, and the median salary for detectives and criminal investigators is $83,640. Police and sheriff’s patrol officers make a median of $64,610 (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
While these are just some of the higher-paying careers in public safety, most positions in this field earn wages that are above the median for all occupations. Your salary can depend on your amount of experience, your geographic location, and your industry, among other factors.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Public Safety Online Degree?
If your public safety degree program is following a traditional, 16-week semester, it will generally take 4 years to complete your degree if you attend on a full-time basis.
If you enroll in an accelerated online bachelor’s degree program with 8-week terms and continuous enrollment through the summer months, you may be able to complete your degree in less time. Attending on a part-time basis, on the other hand, may extend the amount of time that is required for you to earn your degree in public safety online.
Is a Public Safety Degree Worth It?
Yes, a public safety degree is worth it for many professionals. Positions in the field of public safety are predicted to experience positive job growth over the next several years.
For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth for emergency management directors (6% job growth), police and detectives (7%), public safety telecommunicators (8%), and fire inspectors (11%). Positions in this field range across several different industries, including the public, nonprofit, and private sectors.
Universities Offering Online Bachelor in Public Safety Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Charter Oak State College offers a Bachelor’s in Public Safety Administration. Students must complete 36 credit hours related to the major to obtain the degree. Up to 90 qualifying credit hours can be transferred into the program. Those interested in the program may apply online through the school’s website.
Charter Oak State College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Eastern Florida State College offers a Bachelor of Applied Science in Public Safety. The program is designed for students who have already completed an associate degree. To graduate, students must complete an additional 60 credit hours. Applicants must apply along with their official transcripts to be eligible for the program.
Eastern Florida State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Florida Atlantic University offers an online program for a Bachelor’s in Public Safety Administration. Students can choose to add a concentration in Law Enforcement and Correction or Disaster Management. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours and a capstone project. Applicants must submit official transcripts and ACT or SAT scores.
FAU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Franklin University offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Management. Students must complete 120 credit hours to graduate. All classes are offered online and are 6 or 12 weeks long. To be eligible for the program, applicants must submit official high school transcripts.
Franklin University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Johnston Community College offers a Bachelor’s in Public Safety Administration. The program can typically be completed in 2 years and is designed for those looking for a foundation before moving on to a 4-year program. Those interested in the program must submit official transcripts with their online applications.
Johnston Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Neumann University offers a degree completion program for those seeking a Bachelor’s in Public Safety Administration. Each class is 7 weeks long. To be eligible for the program, applicants must have 60 to 90 transferable credit hours or must have completed a police, firefighter, or EMS program with a GPA of 2.0 or higher.
Neumann University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Southern Illinois University offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Management. A specialization in Fire Service Management, Emergency Medical Services, or Emergency Management Administration may be added to the degree. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. Applicants may apply online through the school’s website.
SIU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
St. Petersburg College offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Administration. Students may choose between Criminal Justice, Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Fire Science, or a cross-discipline option. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. Applicants must have 60 transferable credit hours with a GPA of 2.0 or higher.
SPC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers an online program for a Bachelor’s in Public Safety Administration. Students must complete 120 credit hours to graduate.
Those interested in the program must submit official high school transcripts or must have completed an associate degree with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. In addition to an online bachelor’s degree, the UM Global Campus also offers a master’s in public safety online.
The University of Maryland Global Campus is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of West Alabama offers a Bachelor of Science in Public Safety. To graduate, students must complete 120 credit hours. Each course can be completed online and is 8 weeks long. To be eligible for the program, applicants must submit an online application and official high school transcripts.
The University of West Alabama is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Getting Your Bachelor in Public Safety Degree Online
A bachelor’s degree in public safety can help prepare you to take on frontline public service roles or administrative and leadership roles in the public safety sector.
A career in public safety is likely to offer positive job growth and room for advancement across the various positions in the field. If you’re interested in getting your public safety degree online, you can start exploring accredited universities today to find a credible online education program that offers your preferred degree path.
I hope you find this article helpful.