What does a criminologist do? As a criminologist, you are trained to study crimes and the impact they have socially. You will take into account the nature of the crime and why it was committed. You’ll use the analysis in order to help prevent crimes similar in nature.

  • Research is the dominant part of the career: studying the criminals and the crime.
  • Using your research, you’ll develop theories as to the what’s and why’s of particular crimes.
  • Conduct surveys and interviews.
  • Write papers based on extensive research.
  • Come up with viable ways to stop or slow down crime.

Some of your reports will be referenced during investigations of similar crimes you wrote up.

How do I become a criminologist?


Working with a law enforcement agency, your specialty is to not only solve crimes but also help prevent them in the future. You can’t just jump into this position; it’s one that you will have intense schooling and training for. To become a criminologist, you’ll follow steps similar to these:

  • Get your high school diploma.
  • Earn your bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, or criminal justice. This takes four years if you attend full time.
  • Look for an internship.
  • Either go on for your masters or get some work experience before heading back to school.
  • If you go back for a master’s degree, it should take another four years if you go full time.
  • Depending on your state and the department you work in, you may need to be licensed.
  • Once you’re in the running for a job, expect to have to go through extensive background checks.
  • Consider specializing in a subfield of criminology such as cyber crime or national security.
  • Take continuing education courses to stay on top of the changing technology.

How much does a criminologist make?

Criminologists earn the same salary as sociologists, which is more than $79K annually. However, your pay will depend on which state you’re in, which agency you work for, and how much experience you have. The top 10 percent earn more than $146K per year.

Will there be criminology jobs in the future?

There is absolutely no change in the employment outlook projected for sociologists, including criminologist careers. If you have a Ph.D, then you will have a fighting chance of finding a research job in the field.

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