How To Become a Criminal Profiler

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: January 10, 2023  •  8 min read  •  Criminal Justice
Approved Course is reader-supported. If you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small commission.

It sounds exciting and learning how to become a criminal profiler might just lead you to the right career option. As a criminal profiler, you will work in a rather unique position. Your job will include many different aspects and can be very rewarding.

For the right person, this career will make sense. It’s a career not suited for just anybody. You will want to have a serious interest in the minds of humans and psychology.

If you’re considering a career as a criminal profiler, start by understanding the job duties. Then, look at the steps for how to become a criminal profiler. Let’s look closer at both of these.

How To Become a Criminal Profiler

Job Duties of a Criminal Profiler

When you decide to become a criminal profiler, you’ll combine psychology and criminal investigation. You will also work with law enforcement to create profiles of criminals. While profiling criminals is your main job duty, there are many things you will look at along the way.

It’s common to look at the behaviors, emotions, and personalities of criminal offenders. The information gathered will help you create a profile for the criminal. This may include evidence from the crime scene, witness statements, and the victims.

A criminal profiler may also be called a forensic psychologist, criminal investigative analyst, or criminal psychologist.

You will need a strong background in criminal justice and law enforcement for this position. Since your job duties will include working with law enforcement, you will likely need some experience in this area.

Common job duties for criminal profilers include:

Your main job duty will be to create a sophisticated criminal profile to help law enforcement. However, there are many things you will do along the way.

How To Become a Criminal Profiler in 5 Steps

Step #1 – Finish High School

Not only do you want to finish high school, but you want to do very well in high school. You will need to get a degree to become a criminal profiler. If you want to work for the FBI or certain other law enforcement agencies, you will need excellent grades.

Getting good grades in high school and a high SAT or ACT score can help. With the right prep course for the SAT or ACT, you can get into a better college or university. A top bachelor’s degree program can help catapult your career as a criminal profiler to a higher level.

Step #2 – Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

You need a bachelor’s degree to become a criminal profiler. You want to get a degree in forensic sciences, psychology, or criminal justice. It can even be helpful to double major or minor in an area other than your major.

While there may be a few criminal profiler positions not requiring a bachelor’s degree, the best will require a degree. Without a degree, you will likely need many years of experience. The FBI, for example, requires a bachelor’s degree.

Step #3 – Complete Additional Training

Along with a degree, you will need additional training to become a criminal profiler. If you enter into the FBI, you will attend the FBI Academy. Those working with a local or state police department will likely need to go through academy training of some sort.

Along with the training, you will need to be at least 21 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, and have a clean criminal record. If you plan to work for a local or state police department, make sure they have a criminal profiling or behavioral science division. This will help you gain the necessary experience to become a criminal profiler.

Step #4 – Get Investigative Experience

If you want to become a criminal profiler, getting a degree is just the state. You will also need to gain some real investigative experience. This can be working as a police officer, in the military, or in many other areas. Look for career opportunities offering experience in investigation to help build your resume.

Step #5 – Get an Advanced Degree

A master’s degree can help make you a better fit as a criminal profiler. Many people holding these positions hold a Ph.D. You want to get an advanced degree in psychology or forensic science. This will help increase your knowledge and put you at the top of the list when applying for criminal profiler jobs.

Requirements to Become an FBI Criminal Profiler

While you can become a criminal profiler without working for the FBI, working for the FBI is a common career path. If you want to become an FBI criminal profiler, you will need to meet the following requirements:

It’s a bit of a rigorous process to become an FBI criminal profiler, but it can be rather rewarding. There are also many special training programs the FBI offers to prepare you for a profiler position.

If you want to work for the FBI, you will need to make sure you are physically fit, embrace the FBI values, and you can pass the FBI exams. The right practice tests can help ensure you’re prepared for the FBI exams when the time comes.

Common Skills for a Criminal Profiler

All criminal profilers have specific skills that make them very good at their job. The most common skills you will need include:

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Criminal Profiler

How much can I make as a criminal profiler?

The salary range for a criminal profiler is hard to estimate. However, if you work for the FBI, you will be put on the General Schedule Grade payscale. The lower level of this pay scale for a criminal profiler (GS-10) has a range from $50,748 to $65,976. As you advance through the levels, you can earn as much as $143,598 at the highest level.

Is this career growing?

The job outlook for criminal profilers is positive. This career is growing at a good rate. While there isn’t exact data on this specific career from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, police and detectives are growing by about 5% and forensic science technicians are growing by about 14%.

Criminal profilers will fall into one of these two categories. It can be assumed this career option is growing at a similar rate.

What type of work environment can I expect as a criminal profiler?

If you become a criminal profiler, you will likely spend most of your time in the office or out in the field. Long hours are to be expected when working on a case. You will likely work nights and weekends. It’s also common for criminal profilers to travel to the scene of the crime and to speak with witnesses and victims.

How long does it take to become a criminal profiler?

The answer to this question depends on the career path you choose. If you choose to work for a local or state law enforcement office, you may not need as long as working for the FBI. Those needing a bachelor’s degree will need four years, minimum. If you need an advanced degree, you may need another two to four years of education.

Working for the FBI will require another 7 to 15 years of experience as a special agent. It’s possible, you could need experience even if you don’t work for the FBI. For most people, it will take between 6 and 15 years to become a criminal profiler.

You know how to become a criminal profiler, now. It’s important to make sure this is the career path you want to go down. The education and experience you will need will take many years but will be well worth it. This is a rather rewarding and unique career perfect for the right person.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.