How to Get a Job in Criminology

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

A simple definition of criminology is a sociologist who studies criminal behavior and crime. Criminologists want to discover what causes crime and how to prevent crime from happening. Another area of study is how crime affects the perpetrator, the victim, the victim's family, and the community. Criminologists want to know when, where, and why crime is committed. Another area of study is how the government responds to crime.

A criminologist may work for themselves or work for a law enforcement agency. When working with law enforcement, a criminologist wants to help capture the criminal as quickly as possible, predict criminal behavior, and improve the agency's response to criminal activity. Criminologists may work on one crime or a string of related crimes.

Criminology involves developing research projects and testing theories on criminal behavior. Data is collected through interviews, surveys, and observations. Once the data is collected, criminologists analyze the data and draw conclusions from their findings. Now the criminologist prepares reports about their findings. Police departments and law enforcement agencies use this information to help them understand crimes and criminals in their jurisdiction.

After years in the field, some criminologists go on to become medical examiners, psychologists, counselors, or FBI agents.

Salary in the Field of Criminology

If criminologists work for a state or local government agency, the average wage is $60,000. Those who teach criminology in a university can expect to earn $72,000 a year. If a criminologist is working strictly in research, he or she will make $90,000 a year.

Salary will vary depending on whether the criminologist is working in a small town or a large metropolitan area. Another consideration is years of experience. Salary can vary on job title. Some criminologists are referred to as sociologists as both study people and human behavior. Sociologists make approximately $80,000 a year.

Job Requirements

Criminologists must have a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, sociology, or psychology. Degree programs allow students to choose from areas of expertise such as crime prevention, a specific crime, criminal investigation, research, corrections, or litigation.

Criminology researchers at a university must have a master's degree. If criminologists want to teach at a university level, a Ph.D. in sociology or psychology is required.

Schools For Criminology

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