The field of criminology involves the study of crime and criminal behavior, how society reacts to crime, as well as ways to prevent crime. Criminology careers include local, state, and federal corrections, criminal investigation, forensic science, law enforcement, private investigation, research and policy studies, and numerous other jobs working for local, state, and federal government agencies. Criminology jobs each offer their own salary range and benefits; likewise, criminology careers each have different educational requirements, depending on the field of specialization.
Criminology Career Education Requirements
While criminology careers have some basic educational requirements at the undergraduate level, more specialized criminology jobs have stringent educational requirements. For example, a job as a corrections officer, who guards incarcerated prisoners, usually only requires a high school diploma or GED and passing written and physical exams. However, having a college degree in criminology will generally allow for faster promotion. Depending on education and experience level, as well as the state and agency the officer is working for, salaries can range from $25,000 a year to $65,000 annually.
Another of the many criminology jobs available today is that of the criminal investigator. Criminal investigation involves:
- gathering and processing evidence to be used in a trial
- preparing reports concerning crime scenes and the evidence found at them
- assisting prosecutors in preparing evidence for trials
- testifying at trials concerning evidence
- attending and documenting autopsies
Educational requirements for a criminal investigator vary from a high school diploma or GED to a four-year degree or more. Experience in the field is often necessary to obtain more specialized criminal investigation jobs. Many states also require criminal investigators to be licensed. Criminal investigators’ salaries range from $30,000 to $100,000 annually.
Forensic science is yet another criminology career. A career in forensics generally involves collecting and analyzing physical evidence such as finger prints, DNA, blood, semen, saliva, and drugs. Forensic scientists also insure that the chain of evidence is kept intact, write detailed reports, and often testify at trials. In order to obtain a job in forensics, a bachelors degree in biology, physics, chemistry, genetics, or a related science field is required. The average salary for a forensic scientist is around $50,000, although salaries can range from $30,000 to $80,000.
Law Enforcement Officials
Criminology jobs also include employment with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement officials protect the lives and property of people, and pursue and capture those who break the law. Duties vary depending on the size and type of organization. Most of a law enforcement officer’s time is spent writing reports about the various incidents of law-breaking that they encounter. Some law enforcement jobs require only a high school education while others require a college degree and specialized training. On-the-job training, or training at a dedicated academy, is usually a major part of the education needed to effectively perform the duties of a law enforcement official. This training is often physical in nature in order to develop the strength and stamina necessary to properly perform the duties required by the job. Because of the wide variety of law enforcement jobs, earnings can range from less than $30,000 to nearly $100,000 annually, not including a wide variety of benefits.
Private investigators work with individuals, businesses, and lawyers in investigating a variety of legal, personal, and financial matters. Their jobs often involve surveillance and interviews as well as a large amount of computer work. Their tools often include cameras, binoculars, cell phones, and GPS trackers. Although most states require private investigators to be licensed, formal education beyond high school is not generally required. Most, however, do have formal training and prior experience in investigations, or some other type of police or military experience. In order to be effective, they also need to be well versed in local, state and federal laws. The average annual wage of a private investigator is around $40,000 while salaries can range from $23,000 to $75,000.
Due to the wide variety of criminology careers, those looking for employment in the field have a multitude of choices to make. They may choose to work for the public or private sector. They may decide to be highly involved with people or hidden in a lab. They may only need a minimum of education or they may need very specialized training. But whatever the choices, criminology jobs are an important part of the world we inhabit.