Criminologist: Job Description, Duties and Requirements
Criminologists require significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.
Criminologists determine and analyze criminal patterns based on biographical, social and psychological factors to aid law enforcement in assessing potential criminals. Criminologists are required to have a bachelor's or master's degree for employment, and some states require criminologists to pass a licensing exam.
|Required Education||At least a bachelor's degree|
|Licensure||Required in some states|
|Projected Job Growth*||15% (2012-2022) for sociologists, of which crime is an area of specialization|
|Median Annual Salary*||$72,430 (2013) for sociologists, of which crime is an area of specialization|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description of Criminologists
Criminologists study a variety of factors to determine why criminals commit crimes. They consider psychological and social concerns, research data about crimes and arrests and study the background of the criminal to determine if any biological situations led him or her to commit the crime. While studying the criminal, criminologists unveil incidents that may have influenced their crime.
Given all this information, criminologists then create profile types for typical criminals, which are then used by other law enforcement personnel to evaluate future criminals. The data accumulated by criminologists is used to help law enforcers apprehend criminals more efficiently and to better assess their motives.
Criminologist Job Duties
Criminologists review criminal acts and assess a pattern of action, demographics and motivation. They may also report to a crime scene or an autopsy to determine whether a criminal falls into a specific category based on the nature of the crime.
They are usually required to write a report encompassing all of their findings. These reports are held on file and may be referred to when a similar crime is committed to compare criminals and crimes.
Requirements to Become a Criminologist
Criminology is a highly intellectual field, especially because the majority of the job's responsibilities rely on determining and analyzing criminal patterns. As such, many criminologists majored in sociology, psychology or criminology as undergraduates. These majors allow the criminologists to better understand human nature and actions. Other common majors for criminologists include criminal justice and history. It is possible to enter the field of criminology with a bachelor's degree, but some criminologists choose to go on to pursue a master's degree in behavioral science.
There are many internship opportunities available in criminology for students who are considering the field. This work experience is a vital addition to a resume when looking for a full-time job. After being hired, new employees are subject to thorough criminal background and security checks. In most states, criminologists are expected to pass a licensure exam before beginning work.
Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have information on criminologists specifically, it does offer statistics relating to similar careers in sociology, of which crime was listed as an area of specialization. According to the BLS, sociologists can expect an increase of 15% in job opportunities from 2012-2022. The BLS also reported that these professionals earned a mean annual wage of $72,430 in May 2013. Payscale.com reported that the median annual salary for a criminologist was $46,037 in December 2014. This statistic, however, was based on a sample of only 28 individuals.
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