When a crime happens, it is up to the police to solve the crime so that the person or persons who are responsible might be held accountable for the crime. However, solving a crime after the fact is both expensive and counterproductive. Helping prevent crimes before they happen affords the police, as well as the communities they serve, the benefits they would otherwise not get if they waited for a crime to happen so they can solve it. In helping prevent crimes from happening, police will usually employ the services of a criminologist.
What is Criminology?
Criminology is a branch of sociology that examines human behaviour, organisation and interaction. These days, criminology is often concerned with finding out who committed a crime, why they did it and how to ensure similar crimes do not happen in the future. Criminologists can also study the impact of different types of crimes on different people and their communities as well as try to find out what rehabilitation strategies work.
Depending on the career path they choose, and there are many to choose from, a criminologist might find themselves doing research and working with concepts related to other areas such as biology, philosophy, psychology and anthropology to understand criminals and their crimes.
If you want to become a criminologist, you will need at least a Bachelor’s degree that has a focus on criminology or policing. However, some employers will require that you have a master’s degree. While you can take online criminology courses, many criminologists chose to pursue degrees in criminology, criminal justice or sociology.
For better job placement or to go into a specific field, some criminologists will pursue additional degrees such as a degree in psychology. Also, try to apply for degrees and courses that offer an internship at the end of the program. Going on an internship gives you real-world experience and gives you information to decide on the specific career path you would like to follow.
Skills, Competencies and Other Requirements
Depending on where you are located and where you want to work, you might require a license to become a criminologist. Additionally, some additional skills and competencies will make you better suited to become a criminologist.
The primary role of a criminologist is research. So, if you love research and academics, this might be the right career for you. You should be good at research and also with statistics. Good criminologists have a firm understanding of probability and statistics as well as a talent for interpreting and explaining complex data while using it to paint and see the bigger picture.
Also, you need to have stellar organisation skills, mainly because you will need to work with and protect large quantities of data.
As a criminologist, you will play a role in influencing public policy as you try to come up with new strategies for preventing and fighting crime. Because of this, you need to have a strong desire to help your community or those you get to work with as well as an interest in public policy.
Lastly, you will need strong writing skills. Criminologists write reports all the time and if they are not able to pass on their interpretation of the data that they have received in a way people can understand, then they will not be doing their jobs properly.
Duties and Roles of a Criminologist
A criminologist’s primary function is to examine crimes, understand them and find ways to prevent them from recurring. A criminologist can be tasked with looking into how certain parts of the justice system work because how people are treated by the justice system plays a critical role in determining whether they will commit crimes in the future.
Criminologists also collect, organise, authenticate, evaluate and interpret data. This data can be historical records, archives and records that help them understand the types of crimes that are happening in their areas of focus. Once they have this data, criminologists must analyse it to find old and emerging patterns of crime.
Criminologists are also tasked with compiling statistics about crime to try to find ways in which the resources allocated to fighting crime can be utilised better. They can also study offenders to learn more about how they think and the motivations behind their crimes. Additionally, they can work with relevant partners to ensure that offenders are treated fairly regardless of whether they are alleged or convicted criminals.
Lastly, criminologists teach. If you choose this career path, you will work at a college or university where you will teach budding criminologists what it entails, as well as conduct research for various bodies.
As you can see, every day is different for a criminologist depending on the type of work they do; one day they might be seated behind a desk crunching data and the next they may be in a prison talking to criminals to learn more about them and their crimes. If you are looking for a fulfilling career where you will be able to understand criminals, help get them off the streets and ensure they do not commit any crime in the future, a career in criminology is right for you. Click here to learn what the day of a criminologist looks like as well as learn how you can enroll in a degree that leads you to an exciting career.
Why Consider a Career in Criminology?
One of the reasons cited most often for why you should consider a career in criminology is how important the work they do is. Criminologists are tasked with creating better societies where all crimes are solved, the responsible parties arrested and rehabilitated after their release, and where there is very little crime.
The second reason why you should consider a career in criminology is for social justice reasons. A criminologist’s work also involves finding out the influence of ethnicity, demographics, socioeconomic status and education on crime prevalence. Finding out how all these things fuel crime helps them put them in focus so they can be dealt with.
Additionally, criminologists assess how certain traits such as race and income affect how law enforcement officers investigate or monitor certain types of crimes and behavior. The result of looking at crimes through a social justice lens in this way is to ensure everyone is treated fairly by the criminal justice system regardless of who they are or what their lives look like.
Pursuing a career in criminology also means that you get access to a multitude of career options. You can always start in an entry-level position in a government office or at a law enforcement agency. Once you have some experience, you can move on to administration or management.
If this does not look like your ideal career path, you can always branch out into academia. Here, you will need an advanced degree that you can usually gain by doing research or teaching at an institution of higher learning. Lastly, you can choose to focus on one area of crime. This can include drug-related crime, juvenile crimes or victim rehabilitation.
You can also choose a career in criminology if you want a challenge. Criminology is intellectually challenging and a good fit for those with curious minds and those who like working with uncertainties. The solutions you need as well as the answers you provide will be born out of uncertainty because there are no simple answers as to why people do what they do.
Also, there are no simple solutions that can help you eliminate certain crimes or remove social injustices from the justice system. You will have to come up with the answers and solutions yourself, and some people love this type of challenge.
The last reason to pursue a career in criminology is that it can help you help your community. As a criminologist, you will work with law enforcement, prisons, security companies and outreach programs to get to the root of crimes in your areas as well as find ways to help all these groups find ways to tackle crime.
Helping your community also means helping people who get convicted of crimes in your area be understood by others. You can help explain the underlying issues that are a motivation for crime. This can give others the option of coming in to help you help your community. By shedding light on the economic, educational, social and psychological circumstances behind crime, you will be doing a lot to help people understand your community and come in to help if they can.
You can also get involved in helping reform the rehabilitation of those who have been released in prison. By doing so, you will be adding productive people to your community every time someone is released from prison and completes their rehabilitation.
Criminology is a lot more than understanding the motivations behind crime; it also plays a massive role in the prevention of crime, helping offenders be better understood, helps further social justice and helps with the rehabilitation of offenders after completing their sentences. A career in criminology is both exciting and challenging and is a good fit if that is the kind of career you are looking for.