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.

How to Become a Criminologist in Texas?

If you want to become a Criminologist in Texas, you will need a 4-year BS degree in Psychology, Criminology, Sociology, Criminal Justice or a related field. Internships and work experience with a police department, law firm or research group can be very helpful in getting your foot in the door for an entry-level job. Before that, you will need to apply for and obtain your practicing license after passing a written test.

How to Become a Criminologist in California?

In order to become a Criminologist in California, you must have a 4-year Bachelor’s degree in Criminology, Psychology, Criminal Justice or a related field. During your studies, look for internships or part-time work experience with some law firm, police department or government office. This will help you land an entry-level job in the field. You can then obtain your practicing license and build your career as a Criminologist.

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Criminology Degree?

Many schools in the United States, such as the Boston University, the University of Southern California, the Florida State University and the Sam Houston State University, are offering criminology degrees. Students can enroll in a 4-year Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Criminal Justice and Criminology, or a 1-2 year long Master of Science (M.S) in Criminal Justice. Graduates can also enroll in a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in Criminology, which takes around 4-5 years to complete.

What Are the Requirements to Complete a Criminology Degree?

In order to graduate from the Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Criminal Justice, students have to complete 120 credits and in order to graduate as a Master of Science (M.S) in Criminology, program participants have to complete approximately 36 credits. For completion of the PhD program in Criminology, students have to complete a minimum of 55 hours beyond the Masters study. They have to study courses like Criminal Justice Leadership, Criminal Investigations, Corrections and Community Supervision, Cybercrime and Terrorism.

How Much Can I Make after Completing a Criminology Degree?

After completing a criminology degree, students can pursue their careers as Forensic Examiners, Private Detectives, Information Security Analysts, Investigators, Probation Officers, and Correctional Treatment Specialists. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual median pay of Correctional Officers and Bailiffs was $44,400 in 2018. The number of jobs available in this field in 2018 was 453,900.

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