The Criminologist plays a unique role in Criminal Justice and Law. Criminologists both teach and study crime, criminal behavior, the laws affecting these. Crimiologists also study the role of society in both contributing to and attempting to control crime.

Thus, the Criminologist has the capacity to influence how criminal justice and law students view their roles in the system. This has a future and direct impact on law, law enforcement, justice, the courts, corrections, and more. Perhaps no role in the criminal justice and legal system is more important to future generations than the Criminologist.

The Role of the Criminologist in Criminal Justice Law

The Criminologist studies crime and criminal behavior. As a social scientist, Criminologists are considered specialized Sociologists. Much of their time is spent conducting research and writing reports of findings. Some time is also spent in teaching. And some is spent in developing teaching tools such as textbooks, online material, interactive tests, visual aids such as charts.

Criminologist R Barri Flowers
Criminologist R Barri Flowers (Photo credit: Writer R. Barri Flowers)

However, the key role of the Criminologist is to study the behavior of groups; the foundation of Sociology. As a result, many organizations not directly related to Criminal Justice or law are beginning to seek out Criminologists for help in their organizations.

For instance, if a major corporation is having repeated problems with theft, embezzlement, and fraud among its staff, it may bring in a Criminologist as a consultant. This is because whereas one or two individuals may be rogue and cause issues for the company, repeated violations indicate a larger problem, perhaps something systemic. The consultant will be tasked with finding reasons for the behavior and developing solutions which can be applied across the organization…the entire group.

For the Criminologist, the study of crime is a passion. This is a scientific role. Though much of the work is done through University programs, Criminologists are often used by police agencies as consultants, especially on difficult cases. Criminologists are often involved in riot training or similar situations which may pose difficulties for law enforcement operations. In fact, such Criminologists will spend part of their time engaged in public speaking events, especially training seminars for field officers.

Training and Preparation for a Career as a Criminologist

This is a chart showing trends in the expendit...
This is a chart showing trends in the expenditures on crime by criminal justice function from 1982-2001. (Photo credit: Wikipedia). Part of the job of a Criminologist is to educate students about crime and criminal justice. Charts and graphics like this are excellent visual teaching aids. Such charts are generally derived from research the educator is actively engaged in conducting, though at times these are drawn from existing data.

To train for a career as a Criminologist, the first step would be to obtain a Criminal Justice Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited University. Next, pursue either a Masters or Doctorate degree in Criminology. There is no on-the-job training, though many begin working in social work and related fields while attending classes. In addition, many criminology students specialize in drug abuse research, financial crimes, terrorism, international crime, organized crime, medical investigation, psychology, corrections, counseling, or otherfocused areas of criminal justice and law. Many return to school and add a Law Degree to their resume.

This said, there are no set requirements for work as a Criminologist other than the proper education consisting of a BS in Criminal Justice and at minimum a Masters in the same.

How to Apply for a Position as a Criminologist

Many Criminologists apply for positions while still enrolled in either their Master’s or PhD programs, often with the very University attended. To apply, simply contact the Human Resources departments of Universities offering Criminal Justice programs.

However, Criminologists are also employed at every level of government from local and state, to Federal agencies of all kinds. In addition, many private security firms, non-profit agencies, counseling groups, businesses in the finance sector, and even retailers are finding a need for Criminologists in their organizations. Often, locating such positions is not easy, but fortunately, many companies seeking these services often recruit directly from University campuses.

Additional Information Related to a Career as Criminologist

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Sociologists are expected to grow in demand at a greater than average rate from 2012 to 2022. This includes Criminologists. In addition, many schools are facing the same issues as much of the U.S. workforce–Baby Boomers are retiring or otherwise leaving the workforce and many soon-to-retire Criminologists are employed at universities. This is creating further demand for this position.

Median Salary of a Criminologist

The median wage for Criminologists is $74,960 per year or $36.04 per hour according to the United States Department of Labor statistics. Of course, these statistics lump all sociologists together. In general, a Criminologist working for a private corporation can expect to earn higher wages than one working for a public university.

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