How to Become A Criminologist
Criminologists use an array of skills to help law enforcement agencies solve and prevent crimes: analyzing criminal behavior, reviewing social patterns, and using statistics. Becoming a criminologist usually begins when you choose your undergraduate major. Knowing which majors to choose from is important in helping you learn and develop the appropriate skills needed to be successful.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, or criminal justice is the most common way to become a criminologist. In addition to the core classes required by these degree programs, courses in statistics and computers may be beneficial to help understand the data that criminologists must analyze on a regular basis.
After graduating, students may choose to continue their education in a graduate program or start work to gain experience. If a bachelor’s degree is the highest level of education they plan to obtain, then extensive field experience is often required in order to develop a high level of proficiency. While this option is a possibility, most people still choose to earn a master’s degree to gain more insight and knowledge of criminology. Once again the most valuable programs are in the behavioral sciences; psychology or sociology tends to be the best option.
Nevertheless, field experience is still an important aspect of criminology, and students should always be looking for opportunities to apply their knowledge in realistic situations. Two common options to gain experience are internships while pursuing a bachelor’s degree or becoming a research assistant while pursuing a master’s degree. Both opportunities may give students a chance to observe and review actual cases.
Students may need to get a license to work as a criminologist, but this will depend on the state and agency where they intend to work. They may also be required to pass a background check since they will be working with law enforcement agencies. They should check with a local law enforcement agency to get more information about requirements.
Regardless of the route taken, time and commitment are fundamental aspects of this particular career. A criminologist must be able to analyze a variety of factors while working on a case or preparing a report, so students should be prepared to learn an extensive level of knowledge while pursuing this career.