Pursuing a degree in criminology is an exciting way for prospective students to improve their career prospects while also developing skills that will allow them to make a positive impact in their communities. With the demand for criminology professionals expected to increase over the next decade, recent graduates with the requisite background in sociological theories and a strong grasp of the practical applications of criminal justice will have numerous career paths from which to choose. Combining the right educational experience with a strong desire to improve society is the first step toward a budding career as a criminologist.
What Is Difference Between Criminology and Criminal Justice Degrees?
It is important to understand the differences between careers in criminology and criminal justice before embarking on an academic path. Criminology is a social science that focuses on the study of crime. According to a blog featured at The Balance Careers, studying criminology “informs our understanding of how, why, when and where crimes occur and suggests policies and procedures to respond and prevent it.” An excellent example of a career in criminology would be that of a forensic psychologist.
Criminal justice, on the other hand, is more about the response of a society or community to crime. Professions that fall under the umbrella of criminal justice seek to prevent or solve crimes while also focusing on the punishment and subsequent rehabilitation of criminals. Popular careers in the field of criminal justice might include police officers or detectives.
Top Careers for Recent Criminology Graduates
Criminology careers often appeal to individuals who are fascinated by criminal behavior or want to have a deeper understanding of deviant behavior. Recent and future graduates with a degree in criminology will be able to choose from many career paths.
- Parole Officer (average yearly salary: $55,690)
Recent parolees often experience challenges attempting to re-enter society after years of incarceration. Parole officers offer support during this transition by connecting parolees with important community resources and social services. They attempt to minimize the risk of recidivism by offering assistance in:
- Connecting them with essential job training
- Helping them gain access to substance abuse counseling
- Monitoring them in order to better assist with their rehabilitation
- Victim Advocate (average yearly salary: $49,470)
Victim advocates assist individuals who have been traumatized by crime as they navigate the criminal justice system. Advocates serve as a liaison between victims and court personnel during legal proceedings. In addition to educating their clients on the processes of the court system, victim advocates also perform the following duties:
- Help victims cope with crime-related trauma
- Offer support to victims who are testifying or giving official statements
- Assist victims as they seek restraining orders or restitution
- Jury Consultant (average yearly salary: $68,957)
The role of jury profiler (or consultant) is a growing profession within the field of criminology. Consultants are deeply involved in the essential pre-trial preparations that can lead to a favorable outcome. Their research abilities and criminology expertise make them an invaluable part of any legal team. According to one Opveon document titled The Who, What & Why of Jury Consultants, profilers are responsible for the following duties:
- Organizing or participating in mock trials
- Assisting with the preparation of witnesses
- Developing case themes
- Fish and Game Warden (average yearly salary: $57,700)
Criminology graduates who enjoy spending time outdoors are well suited to work as fish and game wardens. This position offers competitive compensation, and the need for these professionals is widespread across the United States. According to a recent article, fish and game wardens perform the following duties:
- Enforcing hunting and fishing laws
- Monitoring state parks or county land
- Promoting conservation efforts or initiatives
Criminology is an exciting field with a plethora of professional opportunities. Individuals in this field will enjoy a rewarding career that offers them the chance to make a true difference in their communities and the lives of others. Aspiring criminologists can gain the necessary educational foundation in an accredited undergraduate program.