Career Profile: Criminologist

August 26, 2012

What is a Criminologist?

If you are considering different options in law enforcement, then you might be asking the question “what is a criminologist?” A person who works as a criminologist is responsible for collecting and cataloging data related to criminal activity. They then use this data along with a psychological analysis to make criminal profiles that can help law enforcement officials determine why criminals commit crimes, and which type of person is most likely to be the culprit of a specific type of crime. High profile criminologists have assisted in the capture of notorious serial killers, but most criminologists spend their time making crime statistics based off of the information that they collect from crime scenes. A criminologist might work for a law enforcement agency, U.S. customs or a security company. Criminologists might also work as a criminal justice instructor.

Education and Training

In order to become a criminologist, it is necessary to obtain a degree in criminal justice. Most criminologists will get a bachelor’s degree, but some people with an undergraduate degree in criminal justice have found work in the industry. The main focus of criminology is psychology, sociology and constitutional law. Everyone interested in a career in criminology will need to study these areas in college, and they will also be required to demonstrate a strong attention to detail. Other areas of study that are highly recommended for this career include criminal theory, criminal law, abnormal psychology and government statistics.

How much do Criminologists make?

A criminologist will typically make between $30,000 and $50,000 during the first four years of their career. Those who have five or more years in the industry will most likely make around $69,000, but those who work in small areas that do not have a lot of crime will generally max out their salaries around $41,000. Higher profile areas pay a lot more, however. The most financially rewarding areas for criminologists are New Jersey, the Oakland-Fremont-Hayward Metropolitan Division in California, New York, the District of Columbia, Illinois and Virginia. Criminologists with a bachelor’s who have more than five years of experience will typically make between $75,000 and $106,000 a year in these areas, with New Jersey ranking as the top paying state. The Federal Executive Branch is the top paying industry for this field. Criminologists who work for them can expect to make up to $101,000 a year.

Employment Prospects

The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the demand for criminologists is on the rise. In fact, the total number of open jobs is expected to rise by approximately ten percent during the next four years. This will create openings for 4,100 new criminologists. As crime rates continue to escalate, criminologists will become increasingly important. Changes to technology will make the cataloging process become more refined, and this will lead to faster criminal profiling and a higher level of successful convictions. Now that you can answer the question of what is a criminologist, this would be the perfect time to consider taking the necessary steps to join this growing field.