Criminal Profiler: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a criminal profiler. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and training to find out if this is the career for you.

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A bachelor's degree is required to be a criminal profiler. Profilers may also benefit from completing a graduate degree in forensic psychology. Their job is to use details about the crime to develop a psychological profile of the suspect.

Essential Information

Law enforcement agencies rely on criminal profilers to help them identify suspects in an investigation. Profilers use the details of a crime, including evidence and witness testimony, to determine a behavior pattern as well as develop a psychological portrait of the suspect. This allows law enforcement officials to focus their search on suspects who fit this profile. Individuals who work as profilers typically have a degree in criminal justice, psychology or behavioral science.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in criminal justice, psychology or similar field; graduate degree in forensic psychology is also an option
Other Requirements Candidates may be trained through the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 4% (for all detectives and police officers)
Median Salary (2015)* $79,870 annually (for detectives and criminal investigators)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Job Duties

Criminal profilers review evidence at crime scenes to figure out how a crime took place. This evidence helps profilers determine details about a suspect such as the person's height and the dominant hand the perpetrator used during the crime. Criminal profilers may also work on older unsolved cases to develop a suspect profile in which law enforcement can use during an investigation.

Profilers may work within a police department, the federal government or independently as a consultant. They may research and analyze case files at the request of the police, attorneys or the families of crime victims, and then offer their opinion on the type of suspect they should be looking for.

Salary and Employment Outlook

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have data specifically for criminal profilers, it stated employment for detectives and police officers was expected to increase by four percent from 2014 until 2024. The median salary the BLS reported in May 2015 for detectives and criminal investigators was $79,870.


Individuals who are interested in becoming criminal profilers may want to obtain a bachelor's degree in psychology, social sciences, criminal justice or behavioral science. Degree programs in criminal justice are available with a concentration in forensic investigation and provide training in criminology, criminal procedures, law enforcement, criminal law, evidence gathering, social psychology and criminal investigation. Graduate degree programs in forensic psychology also provide the educational background needed to work as a profiler.

Individuals may also become criminal profilers through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI's Behavioral Science Unit offers training in criminal behavior, psychopathology, crisis management, death investigation management and criminology to law enforcement officers, the U.S. military, new FBI agents and other personnel, government intelligence officers and others.

Criminal profilers need a bachelor's degree in criminal justice or psychology, and may benefit from a graduate degree in forensic psychology. The median salary for detectives and criminal investigators was $79,870 in May 2015. Those employed by the federal government earned the highest salaries, with a mean salary of $105,470.

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