Civilian Careers in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Dumpster and Crime scene tape
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When discussing careers in criminology and criminal justice, many people immediately think of law enforcement officers, special agents, and police detectives. These are, of course, the most visible professions within criminal justice, but they are by no means the only professions.​

You don't have to dream of being a police officer to work in criminology. In fact, there are a host of jobs available to those whose interests go far beyond law enforcement.

Career Options in Criminology and Criminal Justice

If you're interested in working on the side of law and order but don't want to carry a gun or wear a ballistic vest, here are some civilian career paths in criminal justice you may be interested in.

Crime Analysts

Crime analysts play a vital role in assisting local, state and federal law enforcement officers and agents in their fight against crime. They gather intelligence and data and help officers in nearly every aspect of law enforcement, from providing information in order to help better plan patrols to identify emerging trends and criminal activity.

Crime analysts study police reports, calls for service and intelligence reports to help predict when, where and what crimes will occur. They also provide crucial information regarding officer safety bulletins regarding dangerous people and trends, helping to make sure more officers make it home at the end of their shift each day.

Forensic science

Forensic scientists work in a variety of conditions and a variety of specializations. They may work in a crime lab or as part of a crime scene investigative unit. Forensics technicians collect, preserve and analyze evidence and present their findings to investigators in order to help them solve crimes.

Some forensic technicians specialize in bloodstain pattern analysis. They look at the spread and pattern of blood spatter at crime scenes to glean information about how a crime occurred as well as insight into the type of person who may have committed it.

Other technicians are experts in ballistics. They can obtain valuable information about the trajectories of projectiles, the caliber and type of bullets used in crimes, and can even help identify the type of gun used.

Forensic anthropologists use their knowledge of human remains to develop information about victims of crimes. They can help give investigators clues about the types of injuries a victim sustained, the age of the victim and even certain identifying characteristics such as height and weight, using little more than a few bones and skeletal remains.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychologists are psychologists who work in various components of the criminal justice system. Some work as jury consultants, helping attorneys analyze and select jurors for trials and prepare witnesses for the stand. Others work in the corrections industry, helping to rehabilitate convicted criminals or evaluate accused criminals to determine whether or not they are competent to stand trial.

One very intriguing career within forensic psychology is that of the criminal profiler. Criminal profilers work closely with investigators to provide information about perpetrators of serious crimes, giving detectives leads based on personality type that can even help identify the age and race of a criminal when they have little else to go on.


Criminology is the study of crime and its causes, costs, and consequences. The job of a criminologist, then, is to do just that: study crime. Criminologists teach in universities, work for think tanks and assist policymakers in forming the public policy regarding crime and the appropriate response to crime.

Forensic Computer Investigators

Computer investigators use their knowledge of technology and their computer skills to assist investigators in collecting electronic evidence and track cyber criminals. They may be called upon to dig deep into a hard drive to recover lost or erased data, or they may work for cyber security firms, helping to create and test measures that protect systems from hackers.

Loss prevention specialists

Loss prevention specialists work for retail stores. Their primary function is to mitigate or eliminate theft of merchandise, both from customers and employees. People who work in loss prevention often hold degrees in criminology and criminal justice and use the job as a stepping stone towards a career in law enforcement or security. Many, however, go on to successful careers preventing theft for major corporations.

Sports Security and Investigations

Believe it or not, there's a place for careers in criminology even in major sports. The National Football League, Major League Baseball and even the NCAA all make use of security professionals to maintain the integrity of the sport. These professionals protect players from others and themselves and look into allegations such as cheating, rules violations and steroid use, to name a few.

Police Dispatcher

Law enforcement officers need tons of support in order to perform their jobs well. Police dispatchers provide that support by taking calls for service, recording and providing case numbers and sending units to incidents that require police intervention. Dispatchers are an indispensable component to any law enforcement agency, and provide a wonderful career opportunity for those who wish to work in law enforcement without having to be police officers.

Plenty of Careers in Criminal Justice and Criminology

These are, of course, just a few of the many careers available to those who are interested in civilian employment in criminology and criminal justice. The fact is, the options are nearly limitless, and no natter what your interests, you are sure to find a job that will meet all of your needs. With the right preparation and education, there's no doubt you'l land the perfect criminology career for you