How to Become a Criminologist

How to Become a Criminologist

A criminologist deals with the research aspect of crimes and criminals in the hopes of lessening this type of damaging behavior in society. This facet of sociology focuses on analyzing information collected in the laboratory, in the office, and sometimes from crime scenes, in order to reduce crime through prediction of behavior, deterring behavior, and preventing behavior. As with any human behavior, understanding it comes through the study of it and examining the circumstances around it. When actions are understood, advice on how to modify them is more accurate and productive*.

There is a broad range when it comes to working in this field, so that opens up a wider path when it comes to the educational requirements involved with being a criminologist. It is common for those who pursue this career path to at least have a Bachelor's Degree, usually in Psychology or Sociology. There are also on campus and online courses in Criminology, which include study of social deviance, criminal theory, causes and effects of crime, the justice system, and types of crime. Some places may require that some sort of post-baccalaureate work is undertaken or completed. In either case, there is usually a fair amount of on the job training that takes place in this field. Other requirements for this position are that the applicant has no criminal history and be able to pass all of the drug testing*.

A criminologist may work for the state, federal government, or private institutions. When it comes to a state criminology career, there tends to be a variance with license requirements. Some states do not even have such requirements.  This field has a number of facets, so a person who has this career may end up collecting information from observing autopsies, questioning witnesses, and examining crime scenes, or going over reports, medical and psychological files.  A criminologist may be part of a federal profiling team, work for a security company, work as a private consultant, work with the prison system toward criminal rehabilitation, give expert testimony in court, teach, and conduct research for government purposes, just to name a few areas of focus in this field**.

The salary for a criminologist depends on the area of focus and where that person works.  There is an average scale though.  Those who work in the instruction and research areas of criminology commonly earn over $32,000 up to around $66,000 per year.  Those who work for governments, both state and federal, often earn around $30,000 up to around $55,000 per year.  Factors such as level of experience and education also tend to play a part in how much one criminologist is paid over another***. 

This career path can be a long and rewarding one, but it takes quite a bit of study and can involve being in dangerous situations.  Those who wish to understand why people commit the crimes that they do in order to assist in ceasing such activity, should consider becoming a criminologist.  This growing field can make a world of difference.


Are you ready to pursue a career as a Criminologist? Get information on criminal justice programs in your area and online using our criminal justice degree finder at the top of this page.


*For more information, please visit

**For more information, please visit

***For more information, please visit