Criminal Justice Researcher: Career Info and Education Requirements

Sep 26, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a criminal justice researcher. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and occupational outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

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Have you ever wondered why people commit crimes? Investigating issues related to criminal justice, including why people become criminals, is the job of a criminal justice researcher. These professionals need a master's degree in criminology or criminal justice and may complete an internship as part of their studies to prepare to enter this field.

Essential Information

Criminal justice researchers play an important role in the criminal justice system. They conduct studies, create reports, and provide statistics on criminal justice issues. Individuals who want to play an important role in understanding why crimes are committed may want to pursue a criminal justice research position. Criminal justice researchers typically need a master's degree, although some jobs might require a doctoral degree.

Required Education Master's degree
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 9% for sociologist
Median Annual Salary (2018)* $82,050 for sociologist

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Info for Criminal Justice Researchers

Criminal justice researchers, often referred to as criminologists, are professionals who study criminal behavior. Unlike criminal justice and law enforcement professionals who study evidence and solve crimes, criminal justice researchers study and analyze the theory and reasons behind criminal behavior.

They may also teach criminal justice or act as advisors to criminal justice or law enforcement agencies. Criminal justice researchers may choose to specialize in specific areas of criminal justice, such as juvenile delinquency, criminal psychology, ethnic problems, or drug addiction.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) did not have the employment outlook for criminal justice researchers or criminologists, it did have offer information for sociologists, whose careers are very similar ( The BLS stated that sociologists could expect to see an employment increase faster than average between 2018 and 2028. This is due to the fact that funding for these positions is tied to government grants, and they are currently difficult to receive. According to this same source, the mean salary among sociologists - including those who worked in criminology - was $90,290 as of 2018.

Educational Requirements for Criminal Justice Researchers

Becoming a criminal justice researcher entails completion of a graduate program in criminal justice or criminology. In addition to coursework, students may participate in seminars or fellowships. They may also participate in an internship, which will give them hands-on experience in the field under the supervision of criminal justice professionals. The curriculum may also require completion of a research-based thesis.

Courses in the master's degree program may include sociology of law, deviant behavior, criminal justice research methods, public administration and public policy, criminological theories, and statistics. Candidates who want careers studying and researching criminal justice typically complete master's degree programs, while those who wish to teach others about criminal justice research often pursue doctoral degrees.

Criminal justice researchers research factors related to crimes and criminal activity to determine what prompts people to commit crimes. They need a master's degree. Other career options include teaching or advising law enforcement agencies, and they can also opt to specialize by focusing their work on areas such as drug addiction, criminal psychology or juvenile delinquency.

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