What Are Criminologist Skills? (Definitions and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

November 18, 2021

A criminologist is responsible for analyzing crime data to help influence public policy and understanding. If you're interested in helping prevent crime through research and analysis, then you may want to develop or enhance some important criminologist skills to help you succeed. Understanding which skills this position requires can allow you to prepare for a successful, impactful career. In this article, we describe and list criminologist skills and offer steps for improving and showcasing these skills to help you meet the requirements for a meaningful career.

Read more: What Is a Criminologist? (With Sample Job Description)

What are criminologist skills?

Criminologist skills are the qualities and competencies that a criminologist may need to succeed in their field. Although pursuing a career as a criminologist may require a formal education that teaches principles of psychology, sociology, criminology and forensic science among other disciplines, you may also need to develop certain skills to meet work requirements. Positions in this field can be complex and varied, meaning that you may need to develop a wide range of skills to begin or advance your career.

Examples of criminologist skills

The skills required for criminology positions may vary depending on the type of position you hold within the field. For example, working in a legal setting may require more policy understanding than a position in a forensics laboratory. Regardless of the type of criminologist career you pursue, developing these skills can help you successfully perform your professional duties.

Attention to detail

Criminologists analyze and interpret a large amount of data surrounding things like crime statistics or criminal profiles. They may need to pay attention to many complicated details to establish patterns or understand the context for data analysis. Criminologists also require attention to detail skills to observe various human behaviors or actions to better understand criminal motivations.

Technology

Some criminologists may work with complicated technology to analyze large amounts of data. They may also use computers to create readable reports. Although the technical requirements may vary, a career as a criminologist may require basic computer skills or competency.

Research

Some criminologist positions may require an ability to gather, analyze and report data on various related topics. If you're interested in these positions, you may need to understand best practices for using data to draw conclusions. Even if you don't work in a research setting, you may use some basic research skills, such as interviewing and drawing conclusions.

Read more: Research Skills: Definition and Examples

Communication

Criminologists may need to develop written and oral communication skills to share insights with colleagues. Whether communicating data, observations or other necessary information, a criminologist may need to write reports, ask questions or work collaboratively to develop solutions or share knowledge. A criminologist may need to use communication skills to convey information that can be used for educational purposes or to influence policy decisions.

Integrity and ethics

Since criminologists may work with sensitive information, they may need to develop ethics and integrity to successfully perform their position. This can mean keeping confidential information private or acting responsibly with data that could affect lives, such as criminal record information. They may also have to remain objective in emotional situations involving crime or human psychology. Criminologists may take additional training or education to understand the ethical concerns associated with their role.

People skills

As a criminologist, it's useful to develop skills for understanding human nature and behaviors and connecting with those from various backgrounds. Fields such as psychology or sociology may influence your education and training, meaning that you may need to understand how humans and groups function in society. In your role as a criminologist, you may be responsible for working with people in various positions, including criminals, law enforcement officers or victims of crimes. This means that you may need to develop people skills like empathy or patience to listen, collaborate or offer guidance.

Observation

Criminologists may observe human behaviors or other actions to draw conclusions. In their training, criminologists may learn how to study data and collect information by noting small changes, actions or movements. This may require strong observation skills, including the ability to understand what you're looking at and search for relevant information from a subject.

Organization

Criminologists may handle a large amount of data and work with a wide variety of people on multiple projects. To maintain and prioritize this information, they may need to develop strong organizational skills. This may involve creating databases or systems to manage personal information, crime statistics and other data.

Collaboration

Criminologists may need to share data or information between various groups and agencies to complete complex or multi-dimensional projects. This may require strong collaboration skills in order to successfully combine the skills and findings from multiple fields. For example, a criminologist working in a laboratory may collaborate with law enforcement professionals in order to create a relevant criminal profile.

Problem-solving

Criminologists may be responsible for solving problems involving criminal activity. By analyzing data, a criminologist can offer solutions to complex social problems. Their work may be used, for example, to develop potential solutions to problems like increasing crime rates or incomplete criminal data.

Legal comprehension

Criminologists may be responsible for understanding various tenants of the legal system, including public policies. Since their research may influence public policy decision-making, criminologists may need to develop the skills to understand the legal aspects of crime. This may involve developing knowledge of complex and evolving policies and laws.

How to improve criminologist skills

Here are five steps you can take to improve your criminologist skills:

1. Seek education

Many criminologists have a bachelor's degree while some also have a master's or doctorate degree. During your educational program, you may learn about fields like psychology or sociology, but you may also develop the necessary skills you need to succeed in your field. Pursuing a relevant education may prepare you to have a successful criminology career.

2. Complete internships

During or immediately following your educational career, you might pursue one or more internships to help you develop relevant criminology skills. In these roles, you may gain skills by working directly with professionals in your field on supervised tasks and projects. By completing internships in different areas of your field, like law enforcement or corrections, you may develop a wide range of skills to apply to your future career. You may also understand which roles would match your preferences and talents.

3. Join professional associations

You may also want to consider improving or developing skills by joining various professional associations. Criminology associations may provide opportunities for you to network, share insights or continue education. By interacting with professionals in other areas of your field, you may be able to learn skills that you can apply back to your position.

4. Study literature from the field

Reading research and other publications may allow you to learn about relevant advancements in your field. By doing this, you may learn strategies or ideas for developing new skills or enhancing your current skills. Learning about new technology, processes and insights from colleagues may allow you to advance your professional practice.

5. Continue your education

You might continue your skill development through relevant training and education. As new technology or information becomes integrated into your field, training held online or through local colleges or professional associations may allow you to develop new skills or competencies. Additionally, you may be able to apply new information to current roles or responsibilities.

Criminologist skills in the workplace

Here are some ways you can display your criminologist skills in the workplace:

  • Attend conferences: To highlight your skills and expertise, you may want to consider presenting at various conferences within your field. By doing this you can highlight relevant research or share your skills through workshops and demonstrations.

  • Develop a specialization: You may also want to consider developing a relevant, specialized role in your field that allows you to showcase your strongest skills. For example, you may want to showcase and enhance your technology skills by shifting your professional focus to cyber security.

  • Publish research: You may want to showcase your talents and knowledge by publishing relevant research. If you're highly skilled in a certain criminological area, such as criminal profiling, you may want to showcase your knowledge and expertise in a publication that your colleagues may read.

How to highlight criminologist skills

As you search for a career as a criminologist, you may want to develop best practices for demonstrating relevant skills to employers. This can show them you can succeed in the role. Here are some ways you can highlight these skills on your resume, in a cover letter and at a job interview:

Criminologist skills for resume

Consider adding a bulleted section on your resume to list your relevant skills. By doing this, you can show employers that you have the skills necessary to succeed. Read the job posting and make sure your relevant skills match those required for the role. Including skills you've gained from your educational and professional experiences can show employers your full range of abilities.

Related: How To Prepare a Resume in 5 Steps

Criminologist skills for cover letter

In your cover letter, consider showing employers how you used your skills in previous positions. For example, showcase how your skills allowed you to complete relevant projects or earn publications or awards. By giving context for your abilities, you can demonstrate to employers that you can apply your skills to a new position.

Related: How to Format a Cover Letter (With Tips and Examples)

Criminologist skills for job interview

During your job interview, you can describe situations where you've successfully used your skills to make a positive impact in previous positions. Consider using the STAR method to describe the situation, the necessary task, what action you took, and the result. This can provide interviewers with a clear understanding of your ability to apply your skills and learn from your experiences, which they can use to decide whether your skills would match their position requirements.

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