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What is a Criminologist?

The study of crime and its effects on the population requires a specialized level of insight and analysis into psychology, sociology and the criminal justice system. Professional criminologists can be found in local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, helping to solve or deter crimes based on evaluations of people, crime scenes and public policy. A criminologist is not necessarily a law enforcement or police officer, but provides data and statistics that can prove invaluable in any criminal justice situation.

Criminology is a research-based, scientific study of crimes as they relate to individuals, property, business and other global concerns. This includes the psychology behind criminal motivations, physical and other evidence collected from crime scenes, data from forensic scientists and the theories of law, crime and sociological impact of crime. Criminologists often provide a full-spectrum analysis of a single crime or the response within different demographics that may be “at risk” for criminal behavior. Criminologists can work on an academic level, generating reports and responses to new data collected regarding crime and criminals, or work within the guidelines of criminal investigations through law enforcement. Criminologists may also help devise new rehabilitation programs or make recommendations that alter laws and public policy.

As a multi-disciplinary field, criminologists can have an educational background in psychology or sociology. Recently, many brick and mortar or online colleges or universities offer degrees that specialize in criminology. In fact, many professionals within law enforcement pursue a criminologist career through an online degree in criminology. Some states require a criminologist to pass a licensure test, proving the necessary skills and level of education has been attained. A criminologist typically earns $30,000 - $60,000 annually, depending on level of experience and location.


Criminology is a challenging field that relies on research and data in order to help solve crimes, reduce crime rates and protect the lives and property of others. Many enjoy the diverse range of tasks involved in a criminology career, as well as the self-satisfaction of helping others live safely. These professionals are instrumental in courtrooms, law enforcement agencies and within the criminal justice system as a whole.

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