What is a Criminologist?

If you’re interested in a career behind the scenes of crime and criminal justice, becoming a criminologist may be perfect for you. A criminologist is one of the many people who help the justice system in this country. We’ve taken an in-depth look at this popular career, providing you with all the need-to-know facts regarding what a criminologist is and what education it takes to become one.

What Does a Criminologist Do?

Criminology is technically an area within sociology that is mainly focused on study crimes and their causes, effects, and social impact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job itself developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, and even though it’s a relatively new career, people have been studying and learning how to deal with crime and criminals throughout our entire history.

Criminologists examine every aspect of a crime and help find ways to prevent criminal behavior. They gather statistics and identify patterns within crime. They look at all different types of data, including demographics and locations. When it comes down to it, their job is mostly research driven. Their research is conducted either in an office or in the field.

Criminology is an interdisciplinary field in both the behavioral and social sciences, drawing especially upon the research of sociologists, psychologists, philosophers, psychiatrists, social anthropologists, as well as scholars of law. Tasks of a criminologist can include conducting surveys, compiling statistical data, conducting research interviews, writing research papers and articles, working with law enforcement and corrections personnel, studying criminal behavior, formulating policy recommendations, and devising strategies to help reduce crime.

How Do You Become a Criminologist?

Possible employers almost always require an advanced degree when it comes to their criminologists. These types of careers can be found in a variety of settings, like for legislative committees, policy advisory boards, and local, state and federal governments.

Most of the time, you will need some combination of degrees to become a criminologist. Many have degrees in sociology, criminology, criminal justice, and psychology. Some employers expect candidates to at least obtain their undergraduate degree, but most will expect you to at least have a graduate degree. This career has become extremely popular, so employment has become very competitive.

In order to be a good criminologist, you must have a good understanding of math and excellent organizational skills. There are many internships available in criminology to help students gain some experience in the field. Depending on your state, you may also be required to gain licensure through an exam before you are allowed to work. Even if your state doesn’t require a license, it may require minimum education and professional standards. Employers will also more than likely conduct criminal background checks, security checks, and drug tests.

Even after gaining employment, it usually takes a few years to earn the title of criminologist. Most of the time, new hires spend a few years being a junior or assistant criminologist. This allows the agency to train you and prepare you for the full-on responsibilities of the job.

Related Resource: How Do You Become a Detective?

The field of criminal justice and sociology has grown tremendously in the last century. The need for skilled individuals has grown as well. If you’re looking to become a criminologist, the information here can help you make the right decision and guide you to the career of your dreams.