Criminology is a scientific discipline that is a subset of sociology. While a sociologist studies society and social behavior to get a better understanding of social contexts as related to individual backgrounds, cultures, communities and institutions, criminologists take the foundational elements of sociology and apply them to all aspects of crime. Criminologists study the causes, consequences, and responses to crime to address and hopefully prevent criminal behavior.
Numerous job opportunities exist for individuals who have a degree in criminology. A BA in Criminology can give you a solid footing and competitive edge in a wide variety of career fields, not only in public service (at the local, state or federal levels) but also in the private sector.
Career Fields in Criminology
When considering careers in criminology, most people think of police officers or detectives. However, a degree in criminology can start you on the path to careers in everything from game and parks officers to cybercrime investigators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the following jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
Careers in crime scene investigation exploded with the proliferation of television crime shows, and criminalist is one of the most popular occupations for those with a criminology degree. A criminalist is a forensic scientist who works in a laboratory or at crime scenes collecting evidence. To succeed in this field, strong analytical and writing skills are essential, as most criminologists are required to prepare reports of their findings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 19 percent increase in employment opportunities through 2020.
Not to be confused with a criminalist, a criminologist analyzes data to study crimes and their causes. Closely related to a sociologist, a criminologist works to determine why crimes are committed and attempts to devise methods to predict and prevent criminal behavior. Though some work may be performed at crime scenes, most work is in labs or offices, collecting and analyzing data. Some of this data may be used in government policymaking.
With a projected job growth rate at 18 percent, probation officers enjoy strong career prospects in a high-demand field. Probation officers work with individuals who are on probation or parole. Positions exist at all levels of government in local, state and federal systems. Their duties include helping parolees find jobs, keeping track of progress and offering treatment options when necessary.
For individuals who want to pursue employment in the private sector, a career as a private investigator is a popular choice. Employment is projected to grow 21 percent by 2020 as corporations work to keep ahead of financial and other corporate crimes. With the explosion in technology and data collection, one of the fastest growing subfields for a private investigator is cybercrime. While the FBI leads all federal investigations of cyberattacks, corporations are now scrambling to add their own cybersecurity professionals and investigators. While some background in law enforcement may be required, many individuals complete their criminology degree online while working in a law enforcement agency for experience.
Other Career Fields
For criminology graduates, additional law enforcement careers with some of the fastest growth rates include:
- Correctional Treatment Specialists.
- Gaming Surveillance, Security and Investigation Officers.
- Conservation Officers.
- Transit and Railroad Police.
From patrol officers to U.S. marshals, people with a criminology degree enjoy a wide array of career paths in high-demand fields. Depending on your area of interest and focus of study, a rewarding profession awaits.
Learn more about A-State’s online BA in Criminology program.