What does a Criminologist do?

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 15, 2022  •  8 min read  •  Criminal Justice
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Are you interested in the criminal justice system? Maybe you’re wondering what a criminologist does. There are many different jobs in the field of criminology to consider.

Whether you already have a degree in criminology or you’re working on one, it’s a good idea to know what a criminologist does. Let’s answer this question and also look at some of the types of careers you can enter with a criminology degree.

How To Become a Criminologist

What is a Criminologist?

Compared to many other fields, criminology is rather new. A career as a criminologist is a newer option for many, but it stems from other careers that have been around for a very long time.

A criminologist is someone that works in the criminal justice system, often with law enforcement. You will be someone that studies crimes to figure out how to reduce and prevent criminal activity. Criminologists will look at the stats and data to determine how often and where crimes are occurring.

As a criminologist, you will need to have knowledge of psychology and sociology, along with criminal justice. This helps to ensure you can do your job effectively and provide insight into why people commit crimes.

Along with studying crimes, a criminologist may also study how corrections impact crime. This data may help criminologists come up with new ideas to help make corrections more effective.

What does a Criminologist Do?

The main job of a criminologist is to examine the many aspects of a crime. You will help to find ways to prevent criminal behavior by gathering statistics and identifying criminal patterns. Criminologists spend quite a bit of time looking at the types of crimes, the demographics, and the locations.

This job is mainly a research-driven career. You will likely interview criminals and work closely with law enforcement, politicians, and community leaders. The main goal of any criminologist is to help reduce crime. This may be done by developing new policies or improving current policies.

Some of the most common job duties of a criminologist include:

As a criminologist, you will study criminal activity and help to prevent it in the future.

Necessary Skills of a Criminologist

If you want to become a criminologist, you will need the right skills. These skills need to be developed as you go through your education and training. Some of the skills you will need include:

If you are working on a criminology degree or you have one, becoming a criminologist is a possibility. However, it’s not the only option. Let’s look at some of the other careers you can enjoy with a criminology degree.

7 Careers You can Enjoy with a Criminology Degree

1. Criminal Profiler

You can become a criminal profiler with a criminology degree. This degree will help you move through the education necessary to become a profiler.

2. Lawyer

Of course, you will need to go to law school to become a lawyer, but a criminology degree is a good state. This type of degree works well for attorneys because it helps you better understand how to interview witnesses and negotiate with criminals.

3. Criminology Professor

With a criminology degree, you can go into teaching. You will need an advanced degree to teach at a college or university, however. As a professor, you may also perform research.

4. Forensic Psychologist

You can earn an average salary of about $94K per year as a forensic psychologist with this type of degree. This type of position will put you in front of suspects and convicted criminals to interview them about their motives. You will also need to pursue a degree in psychology to go into this field.

5. Police Detective

If you want to work in law enforcement, getting a criminology degree makes sense. This type of degree will help you become a police detective. Since you will be responsible for solving crimes, this is a good major to pursue for police detectives.

6. Jury Consultant

Those with criminology degrees fit well into the career of a jury consultant. You will help with appointing and selecting jurors for court cases. This type of job may include interviewing potential jurors, looking into their background, and determining if they are a good choice. A criminology degree will help you prepare for this type of career.

7. Private Investigator

If you want to use your criminology degree to become a private investigator, it’s a pretty good fit. You will work to investigate very specific crimes. As a PI, you will need to do quite a bit of research, which your criminology degree will prepare you for.

There are many careers a criminology degree can help prepare you for. While you can certainly become a criminologist, there are other options, too.

It’s common for those with a criminology degree to go into corrections, counseling, forensics, law enforcement, retail investigation, or teaching. Many other fields are available for those getting this type of degree, too.

Frequently Asked Questions About Criminologists

How much can I make as a criminologist?

When you work as a criminologist, you will earn a salary starting around $26K and going up to more than $66K, according to TheBalanceCareers.com. The top earners in this field will earn around $32 per hour for their work. You can earn a higher salary with more experience.

What type of education is necessary to become a criminologist?

You will need to get an advanced degree to work as a criminologist. Typically, a combination of degrees in sociology, psychology, criminology, or criminal justice is preferred. Gaining a Ph.D. is often necessary for this career.

Is the field of criminology growing?

No. This field really isn’t growing much. However, it’s remaining stable. Criminology falls under the larger umbrella of sociology. The growth in this area is expected to be about 1% over the next ten years.

What type of work environment do criminologists enjoy?

As a criminologist, you will likely work for the government, whether local, state, or federal. You will spend most of your time in an office, but some of the time outside of the office interviewing people. It’s also common for this type of career to lead to time sitting on policy advisory boards.

It’s also common to become a college professor with this type of career. You may teach criminology at a university and also do research as a part of your job description.

What type of hours will I work as a criminologist?

You will likely work common office hours as a full-time criminologist. Sometimes, you may need to travel, which can cause you to work odd hours. However, most of the time, you will work pretty normal work hours.

Who will employ you as a criminologist?

There are many types of employers you can work for as a criminologist. The court systems and correctional institutions often hire criminologists. You might also work for a counseling agency, insurance company, or retailer.

The federal government hires criminologists to work for the DEA, FBI, U.S. Border Patrol, and Homeland Security. State governments usually hire criminologists for the State Highway Patrol or the Department of Rehabilitation & Correction.

Most commonly, criminologists work for universities. You will likely teach courses in criminology but also do research. This is the most common of the employers, but many other employers will hire criminologists.

When you start looking into careers in the criminal justice field, you will find many options. If you have a criminology degree or you plan to get one, you can become a criminologist. Of course, this degree can lead to many other careers, too.

With a degree in criminology, you can do many different things. However, it’s best to understand what a criminologist does and the other options before making your decision. Make sure you choose the right career for you before you choose your college major, especially for more advanced degrees.

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.