12 Jobs You Can Get With a Criminology Degree

Updated August 9, 2023

There are many exciting career options for someone with a degree in criminology. Criminology professionals can work in a number of environments, including police stations, prisons, universities, courtrooms and government agencies. If you're interested in pursuing a criminology degree, you'll need to know about the different types of jobs that are applicable.

In this article, we'll look at what a criminology degree entails, discuss why you might decide to pursue one and examine 12 jobs you can get with a criminology degree.

What is a criminology degree?

Criminology is a fascinating degree for anyone interested in law enforcement or the academic study of criminal behavior. A criminology degree provides you with information and insight you need to interact with criminals, understand them and help bring them to justice. It also allows you to learn more about the underlying societal issues that affect criminals and contribute to their behavior.

A criminology degree is closely related to a criminal justice degree, but there are several key differences. For one, criminology is more concerned with the academic aspect of criminal behavior than it is the practical aspect. Criminology seeks to study crime within the context of the society in order to understand how best to address and eliminate criminal behavior. The study of criminal justice is more focused on how the criminal justice system currently functions and teaching future law enforcement officers and court officials on how to properly navigate it.

Related: What Are Criminologist Skills? (Definitions and Examples)

Why get a degree in criminology?

There are several reasons why you might choose to pursue a degree in criminology. Careers related to criminal studies and criminal justice are relatively secure, most salaries are reasonably competitive and many positions include government benefits. There is also a wide range of possible job options which would allow you to work in a number of interesting environments.

However, the primary reason many criminology professionals choose to pursue this degree is the level of job satisfaction. A degree in criminology allows you to potentially benefit your society by identifying, apprehending and rehabilitating criminals. Although working in law enforcement can be dangerous and time-consuming, many professionals find their jobs to be quite rewarding. If you are looking for a challenging way to serve your community and improve society, a career in the criminology field may be a good fit for you.

Related: 4 Types of Jobs in Law Enforcement

Jobs you can get with a criminology degree

There are a variety of job titles you can hold with a criminology degree. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the links provided:

1. Loss prevention officer

Average salary: $15.93 per hour

Why it fits a criminology major: Loss prevention officers specialize in preventing theft and apprehending thieves. They're typically hired by retail businesses to patrol their premises in order to deter and detain shoplifters. Loss prevention officers with a criminology degree would be qualified to pursue a position with high-end and high-paying businesses. They would use their understanding of criminology to help them implement preventive measures against thieves.

2. Private investigator

Average salary: $23.66 per hour

Why it fits a criminology major: Private investigators are hired by individuals to investigate a specific crime. They work independently from the police and must use their own resources to solve cases. A criminology degree would help private investigators appear more experienced and trustworthy to potential clients. The degree also provides valuable insight into the criminal mind which would help a private investigator conduct their investigations more efficiently.

3. Jury consultant

Average salary: $47,378 per year

Why it fits a criminology major: Jury consultants assist in selecting and appointing jurors for court cases. They interview potential jurors, research their backgrounds and determine if they will be unbiased when deciding on a verdict. Jury consultants with a criminology degree are well-equipped to choose jurors for specific cases. They are able to use their knowledge of criminal sociobiology to predict how certain jurors might respond to certain trials.

4. Probation officer

Average salary: $55,265 per year

Why it fits a criminology major: Probation officers assist criminals who have left prison and are reentering society. They recommend rehabilitation plans, meet regularly with probationers to check their progress and contact the courts if someone breaks their parole. A probation officer with a criminology degree would likely be able to communicate well with the probationers and would use their familiarity with criminal psychology to develop effective treatment plans.

5. Correctional officer

Average salary: $56,806 per year

Why it fits a criminology major: Correctional officers spend their days enforcing the rules and regulations within a prison. They interact with the prisoners daily, supervising their activities, resolving any conflict and keeping the peace among all inhabitants. Criminology majors could use their knowledge of criminal psychology to help them understand the prisoners and to be an effective influence for their rehabilitation.

6. Criminology professor

Average salary: $57,104 per year

Why it fits a criminology major: Professors of criminology spend their days teaching students about criminal psychology, sociology and law. They typically teach in college or university classrooms and may also publish their studies in academic journals or books. Criminology majors who enjoyed pursuing their degrees may find it rewarding to teach the same subject to the next generation of criminologists.

7. Forensic scientist

Average salary: $61,101 per year

Why it fits a criminology major: Forensic scientists study crime scenes and physical evidence in order to assist detectives in catching criminals. Forensic scientists with a criminology degree can draw on their knowledge of criminal thought and motive to interpret the evidence accurately. Most criminology majors would have the option to take forensic science courses while still in college if this career choice appeals to them.

8. Clinical social worker

Average salary: $62,328 per year

Why it fits a criminology major: Clinical social workers work directly with people facing substance addiction, domestic abuse, unemployment and other serious challenges. While many of their clients are not criminals, clinical social workers often interact with the police, parole officers and other law enforcement officers in the course of their job. Criminology is a subset of sociology, so it would be a good fit for professionals who wish to better understand how they can serve their society.

9. Police detective

Average salary: $70,931 per year

Why it fits a criminology major: Police detectives are responsible for solving crimes, apprehending criminals and keeping the peace in their community. To do their jobs well, they need to understand how criminals think, why they do what they do and how to stop them. Criminology majors excel at this job because they can use their in-depth knowledge of criminals to solve their cases efficiently.

In some cases, you do not have to have a college degree to be a police detective. However, a degree in criminology or criminal justice will set you apart from the other candidates and qualify you for accelerated advancement.

10. Lawyer

Average salary: $89,458 per year

Why is fits a criminology major: All lawyers must graduate from law school and pass the bar exam in order to practice law in the United States. However, if a lawyer chooses to specialize in criminal cases, they may decide to pursue a Master's Degree in Criminology.

A criminology master's degree would help a lawyer to effectively interview witnesses, present evidence in court and negotiate with criminals. Understanding the sociological aspect of crime aids lawyers in their pursuit of justice.

11. Forensic psychologist

Average salary: $96,294 per year

Why it fits a criminology major: Forensic psychologists interview suspects and convicted criminals in order to understand their motives for committing a crime and the reasons behind their behaviors. They use their extensive knowledge of human psychology to determine whether or not a suspect is suffering from mental illness and if they are mentally fit to stand trial. A criminology degree would help a forensic psychologist interact with suspects and criminals more effectively.

In addition to criminology, an aspiring forensic psychologist would also need to pursue a degree in psychology.

12. Criminal profiler

Average salary: Profiler salaries vary by employer and location

Why it fits a criminology major: Criminal profilers use their in-depth understanding of criminal psychology to predict the movements of serial perpetrators. They study specific criminals and analyze their behavior which helps them pursue and apprehend guilty suspects. Criminal profilers would benefit greatly from a criminology degree due to its focus on understanding the motives and behaviors of criminals in modern society.

Frequently asked questions

Is criminology a good major to have if you want to work for the FBI?

If your goal is to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, criminology is one of the degrees you might pursue. It can help prepare you for a career with the FBI because it teaches you how to analyze and predict criminal behavior and prevent crimes from happening in the future. With a criminology degree, you might apply for FBI positions in criminal profiling and forensic psychology.

Is it better to major in criminology or psychology?

Both criminology and psychology are good major choices if you want to pursue a career in behavioral analysis. The difference between the two degrees is criminology is the study and analysis of criminal behavior, while psychology is the study and analysis of an individual's behavior and emotions. 

A psychology degree is a good option for criminal justice jobs that involve behavioral analysis or criminal rehabilitation. Examples of jobs you might qualify for with a psychology degree include behavioral specialist, forensic psychologist or victim advocate. If you're interested in a career in law enforcement or the justice system, a criminology degree might prepare you for a wider variety of jobs in this field.

Should I get a BA or a BS in criminology?

Both a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in criminology can prepare you for a criminal justice career. A B.A. in criminology focuses on social and humanities topics such as philosophy, political science, psychology and sociology. This degree is a good option for careers in corrections and law enforcement administration. A B.S. in criminology focuses on scientific and technical topics such as statistics, technology, research and computer science. This degree is a good option for careers such as forensic science and fraud investigation.

Which criminology degree you choose depends on your strengths, interests and career goals. If you're skilled with computers and numbers, for example, you might excel in a Bachelor of Science program. If you have good critical thinking skills and emotional intelligence, you might consider a Bachelor of Arts.

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