Forensic Criminologist: Job Description and Requirements

Sep 30, 2019

There are a number of education and training requirements that need to be completed by aspiring forensic criminologists. Here, a summary of these preparation steps is provided alongside details about what a forensic criminologist does.

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Forensic criminology is a research field that attempts to identify and understand the behaviors that result in criminal activity. The research forensic criminologists carry out assists law enforcement and the criminal justice system to better understand crime and devise more effective policies to combat crime.

Key Information for Forensic Criminologists

Forensic criminologists play an important role in improving crime prevention policies and typically hold advanced degrees in criminology, criminal justice, or a similar subject, although vocational courses in forensic criminology are also an option to increase a professional's knowledge range and skill set.

Education Bachelor's degree in criminology, sociology, psychology and social justice, may be sufficient for entry-level positions; graduate degree and certificates for more senior positions
Other Requirements Clean criminal record, good work and credit history
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 9% for all sociologists (including forensic criminologists)
Median Salary (2018)* $82,050 for all sociologists (including forensic criminologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Forensic Criminologist Job Description

Forensic criminologists focus on the sociological factors and trends that underpin all types of criminal behavior and their impact on victims. They also work to assess the utility of the components of the criminal justice system. Whilst the general public may assume that a forensic criminologist may be synonymous with a crime scene investigator, their role is quite different. They examine the prison system, courts and law enforcement at all levels of government. This work helps to inform lawmakers when considering changes in legal procedures and policies to ensure the criminal justice system is performing as intended. Forensic criminologists can look at the criminal populations as a whole or specialize in population subsections such as juvenile offenders.

Forensic Criminologist Job Requirements

Before anything else is considered, budding forensic criminologists must have a clean criminal record and relevant work experience. Next, a bachelor's degree in criminology, sociology, psychology and criminal justice is needed to be considered for an entry-level position. The types of courses that should be taken during these programs include public health, law, neuroscience, computer forensics and the history of crime. To obtain a research role, a Ph.D. will normally be required.

Forensic criminologists, as with all forensic jobs, will need to develop strong research and analytical skills as these will be critical for being successful since a primary activity of a forensic criminologist is to produce studies of crime and criminal behavior.

Certificate Programs in Forensic Criminology

Certificate programs in forensic criminology exist to further educate criminology students or existing criminal justice professionals in criminal psychology and profiling, victimology and many aspects of criminological theory. Additionally, these certificates may also be of interest to professionals in public health, nursing and the law. Such certificates can often be completed entirely online and may be undertaken on a part-time basis.

Professional certification is also possible through the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) and is available to existing criminologists at all levels. ABC certification is available for five years.

How Much Do Criminologists Make?

Specific salary and job outlook data for forensic criminologists are not collected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, they do publish data for the sociology professionals which for these purposes includes forensic criminologists. The BLS's most recent report for sociologists stated that as of May 2018 their median salary was $82,050 per year. The highest 10% of earners in the field earned more than $140,430.

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