Criminology is a form of sociology as it studies human behavior relating to criminal activity. These professionals aid law enforcement agencies in fighting crime. The job outlook for the wider occupational category of sociologists is quite bright, at 9%. Aspiring criminologists can opt for educational degrees in sociology or psychology to understand why people commit crimes. Those with doctoral level degrees will have the best job prospects.
If you are interested in this field of work, the following guide on how to become a criminologist will be of use to you. It provides a detailed look into the steps to become a criminologist, the education requirements and salary outlook.
What Does a Criminologist Do?
The work of a criminologist can be defined as an amalgamation of sociology and law enforcement. Like sociologists, criminologists’ study various human behaviors and try to determine why people act the way they do. Their focus is mainly on studying the behaviors of criminals and analyzing crime scenes to look for behavior triggers.
Their typical job duties can include the following:
Analyzing data provided by law enforcement agencies
Looking at data to identify patterns
Analyzing and collecting evidence from the crime scene
Create criminal profiles based on evidence collected
Steps to Become a Criminologist
In order to become a criminologist, candidates will have to complete a series of steps involving education and experience.
Step 1: Get a Bachelor’s Degree
This is typically the least amount of education required to get into the field of criminalistics. Options for majors can be criminal justice, sociology or criminology. College coursework would typically include subjects like logic, computer science, writing and math. In addition to that, a lot of institutes offer internship programs as well, which can be invaluable for aspiring criminologists.
Step 2: Go for Higher Education
Criminalistics can be studied at a higher educational level, as part of a master’s degree or a Ph.D. in psychology or sociology. Students can go for applied, clinical and professional programs or traditional graduate level programs. In either case, typical coursework would include research methods and statistics.
Step 3: Look for a Job
Typical employers of criminologists include law enforcement agencies, including government agencies at the state or federal level. Many criminologists get hired as policy analysts in the government or federal criminal justice agencies. Alternate career options could be in the research sector, as economists, psychologists, political scientists, social workers etc.
How Much Does a Criminologist Earn?
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have a separate category for criminologists. However, it does provide detailed salary information for sociologists, which is a broader field for criminologists. According to their website, the 2018 median pay for sociologists was $82,050 per year, which roughly translates to $39.45 per hour. The top paying states in this occupation category were Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New Jersey, California and North Carolina. The top paying industries for sociologists were Scientific Research and Development Services, followed by the State Government.