How to Become a Criminologist

How to Become a CriminologistA criminologist is a professional who works to understand the causes the mind of a criminal and the psychological causes of criminal behavior. By comparison, a criminologist uses evidence to predict and understand the behavior of the criminal while a criminalist uses evidence at the scene of a crime to determine cause or person responsible. In short, those people that enjoy the science of the mind and enjoy sociology and psychology are best suited for fields like criminologists. Individuals working in this field are likely to work hand-in-hand with detectives, police officers, and even evidence analysts to solve crimes.

What Is the Job of a Criminologist?
$68,640
Master's Degree
None
Internship/Residency
174,000
22%
37,700
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

The job of a criminologist is to interpret the behavior of the person accused of a crime. They will use clues from the scene of the crime, evidence, background information, and statements to help understand the mental state of the individual, including identifying the type of offender the individual is. The goal is often to use this information to help capture the offender or to help prevent additional acts.

To become a criminologist, individuals will need to study not just science and psychology, but also the past. To formulate information about the current offender and his or her actions, these professionals use information from past crimes. By studying previous criminals, it is possible to get a solid idea of what could be happening with a current offender based on mental health, behaviors, and predictable patterns.

Growth Prospects

The goal of understanding criminals is very much something government agencies continue to work on development and implementing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, work in this field is likely to grow over the next decade. From 2010 through 2020, it is likely that this field will see an improvement in jobs by a rate of about 22 percent, which is faster than average. Individuals working in these positions work for local governments, state governments, federal governments, including the FBI, CIA, and foreign agencies.

What Education Is Needed to Become a Criminologist?

Education is one of the most important components to obtaining this type of position. Individuals who work in this field not only need education, but also job training. According to the Princeton Review, this level of training is intense, rigorous, and comprehensive. The goal is to help the individual to develop a true understanding of the behavior of criminologists so that they can predict the outcome of the investigation.

The following are some of the educational requirements that these individuals will need to prepare them for the work in this field.

  • Extensive study in behavior sciences is necessary.
  • Most will need a bachelor’s degree in criminology or a related field.
  • Computer sciences are also important as much of the work is web and technology based.

Individuals may work to further their education from the bachelor’s degree level as well. Generally, most will need a master’s degree or doctoral degree in behavior sciences, psychology, or sociology in order to work in the field or within a team.

To obtain this level of education, many students will begin working within a criminal investigation unit with a bachelor’s degree and then work to complete a master’s and doctoral degree while working. In some cases, this may be done online through accredited educational programs. This allows the individual to gain experience while he or she is furthering educational goals.

There is nothing easy about working as a criminologist, but it can be one of the most gratifying positions available to pull offenders off the streets. In some cases, these professionals work to rescue abducted children, solve murders, and to solve cold cases. The work in these areas can help to make communities safer while challenging the individual nearly every day on the job.

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