Even though criminology is centered around the study of crime, it has many applications outside of conventional law enforcement careers. Of course, this degree is also a popular choice for students who want to work in or with enforcement agencies. Typical criminology programs cover a wide range of topics that educate students about the nature of crime and society, so they usually include ample selections of sociology and psychology coursework. Criminologists not only seek to understand the nature of individual criminal activities, but also their collective relationship with governments, society, and law.
Related resource: 20 Best Online Schools for Criminology
The Criminology Profession
Many people who obtain a degree in criminology don’t actually become criminologists, but it is a viable path for those interested in research, policy, and legislation. Professional criminologists typically have advanced degrees as well as proven experience in the field. They may work for government agencies or offices, providing testimony or consultation during legislative proceedings or drafting of policy. Some government departments employ teams of criminologists to help research, formulate and analyze the impact of tax-funded programs.
Teachers and Educators
Experience and education in the field of criminology also opens up opportunities to enter the teaching profession. Police academies throughout the United States rely on experienced staff members to train and develop their officers. Established criminologists may also find a rewarding career through professorship and research through a university. Some criminologists work with businesses and other organizations to train and develop staff members, so they can apply this knowledge on a daily basis to cut down on losses to the store.
Loss and Theft Prevention
Understanding the psychology and structure of criminal thinking has incredibly important applications for businesses across the country. Retailers sometimes employ experts in criminology to help design the layout, security systems and policies of their stores. This kind of career requires a mixture of creative and conventional thinking, as well as a firm understanding of the psychology behind shoplifting and theft. Some professionals even consult with larger institutions, like airports and train stations, to minimize the risk of life-threatening activity in public areas.
Careers in Law Enforcement
A large number of criminology students spend at least some of their professional life working in the field of law enforcement. There is a healthy variety of career paths in this field, which have very different skill requirements and responsibilities. Many graduates go on to become police officers or detectives, which have a positive job growth outlook and a median salary of about $63,000 in 2017, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Others serve law enforcement investigations by contributing expertise in the field of forensic psychology, including criminal profilers, expert witnesses for court proceedings and specialist consultants.
With dozens of different career paths available, students of criminology often enjoy a lot of flexibility when deciding on a profession following school. However, many also use an undergraduate degree as a foundation for a graduate or doctoral program, which can open up even more professional options. Law enforcement is certainly not the only application for a criminology degree, but it can be a rewarding career that leads to personal and professional growth.