How to Become a Criminologist

In order to become a criminologist, you need to know what are their roles and responsibilities are. Criminologists focus on the social behaviors of criminals, psychological makeup, and profiling them in an effort to understand and analyze criminal occurrences and try to forestall and prevent the occurrences of crimes. Criminologists do their research on criminals in courts, prisons or at crime scenes. They use their expertise in psychology, statistics and human behavioral sciences to trace a pattern of a criminal and provide valuable insight to help prevent the criminal striking again. To become a criminologist is a challenging job option.

Understand the Job Requirements:

The criminologists should have a thorough grasp of criminal justice, criminal psychology, juvenile corrections, justice and victimology etc. They study the methods of older master criminals and their techniques to spot any specific behaviour pattern in latter-day criminals. Research and analytical skills are a must as well as meticulous attention to details and immense patience to do research.

Educational Requirement:

There is no set path since many schools do not offer criminology at the undergraduate levels though there are a few exceptions. A graduate level degree in criminology/criminal justice is required and these include subjects like sociology, psychology law and logic, law and statistics etc. A master’s degree in behavioral science and a doctorate in psychology or sociology will help in the career of teaching criminology.

Special Licensing:

Some states ask specifically to undergo written exams to obtain licenses to work as criminologists. You should check the local department requirements for all requirements.

Analyze Career Graph:

You will have to choose where you want to work: in a federal government agency or local or state government departments. The first few years as junior-level criminologist may be mostly office work. Field work will be available once you gain experience and added skills.

Start as an intern in the related criminal justice area for practical criminology on-job experience. Work experience under a senior and skilled criminologist will help you know the intricacies of the job. It would be ideal to work part-time even during the undergraduate/graduate levels.

Job Outlook:

Average starting salary will be about $30,000 annually for a criminologist with a bachelor’s degree. A master’s degree starts at a higher level of $55,000. Work experience and additional qualifications fetch in more salary and added work responsibilities.

This job depends on public funding towards crime prevention and so openings are limited in government departments.

Different Openings:

There are openings in research and/or teaching at the university level if you have your PhD in subjects like psychology or sociology. Many colleges and universities offer jobs in teaching at undergraduate levels.

Skills & Qualities:

  • You must be deeply interested in justice, human nature and behavioral patterns.
  • Keen observation skills as well as research and analytical skills are needed.
  • An aptitude in subjects like math and statistics will be helpful.
  • Computer literacy is a must and advanced computer working knowledge is very useful.
  • Good communication skills are needed.

Programs like "CSI" and "Law & Order" have glamorized the profession of a criminologist. This challenging job is a stimulating job for people with a logical and analytical mind.