What Does a Crime Analyst Do?
Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More
This position is for job seekers who love to conduct research and analyze data, and happen to be interested in fighting crime and helping law enforcement agencies get the most out of their people and their programs. If you're considering earning a degree in criminology—or if you're trying to decide what to do with the degree you already have—you might want to take a look at a career as a crime analyst or criminal intelligence analyst.
Crime analysis is not a new field. Criminologists have long looked for patterns of crime to glean all sorts of answers about deviant behavior. The profession of crime analyst is a relatively recent innovation within policing, however, and it's rapidly becoming indispensable.
Crime analysis has been a growing field since the 1970s due in part to the advent of community-oriented policing. Once limited to only federal or very large metropolitan departments, nearly every police agency in the U.S. now employs someone in an analyst capacity.
Crime analysis has become one of the most important functions within nearly every police agency. Analysts are found at every level of law enforcement and they support and bolster investigators and patrol officers and help them do their jobs and stay alive.
Crime analysts work in a fascinating field, combining research and analysis with policy and program planning. A vital tool for helping law enforcement respond to, solve and even prevent crime, a career as a crime analyst is an excellent opportunity to help communities and support the policing function. If you have a knack for research, interpreting data, and deciphering patterns, a career as a crime analyst may be the perfect criminology career for you.
Crime Analyst Duties & Responsibilities
Crime analysts identify patterns and gather helpful data that can be used to help police command personnel and better allocate their police officers, detectives, and other assets. Crime analysts play a very important role in helping detectives and investigators solve crimes. By looking at police reports, data, and trends, they can gather important clues, such as methods and motives, that can lead to the identification of a suspect. Some of the other duties crime analysts perform include:
- Using a variety of resources, including crime mapping technology, computer-aided dispatch, police reports, and contacts with other professionals in their area and around the country.
- Looking for trends and to provide answers to issues puzzling police in real time. This, in turn, helps law enforcement better prepare.
- Locating times and areas where a particular crime or a range of criminal activity is occurring. Identification of these areas, called hot spots, helps law enforcement plan their manpower needs, pinpointing when and where police officers should patrol in order to maximize their effectiveness.
- Gathering and analyzing crime statistics and producing reports.
- Developing intelligence, advising police commanders, and identifying criminal trends, including emerging problems. Researches long-term problems and presents response strategies.
Analysts are often non-sworn members of a law enforcement department, making crime analysis one of many great civilian criminal justice careers available today. In some cases, sworn law enforcement officers might perform the functions of an analyst. Analysts typically work in an office environment and evaluate data rather than respond to crime scenes or investigate individual crimes.
Analysts might also serve in roles dedicated to intelligence gathering. Criminal intelligence analysts provide crucial information to law enforcement personnel about potential criminal activity and, even more important, officer safety information and bulletins.
Crime analysts are also on the cutting edge of community policing techniques, leading the charge on innovations such as predictive policing and environmental criminology.
Crime Analyst Salary
A crime analyst 's salary varies based on the level of experience, geographical location, and other factors.
- Median Annual Salary: More than $71,000 ($34.13/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $47,000 ($22.6/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: More than $34,000 ($16.35/hour)
Source: Payscale.com, 2019
Education, Training & Certification
Most employers will want candidates who have a college degree, and preferably other, related work experience.
- Education: In most cases, aspiring crime analysts must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, criminology, or another related field such as psychology or sociology. A focus on classes such as probability and statistics can prove helpful.
- Work experience: Some agencies allow candidates to substitute some or all of the college education requirement for relevant work experience. Although finding experience can be difficult without first achieving a degree, internships and volunteer work can help candidates make connections in the field and get on a solid career path.
- Police academy training: In some cases, criminal analysts might serve in sworn law enforcement positions or in supervisory ranks. In this case, police academy training, several years of service and possibly promotion will likely be required as these would be specialty positions.
Crime Analyst Skills & Competencies
Analysts must have strong communication and analytical skills as well as great writing ability. They need to be able to locate and interpret data and must be able to repackage and present it in a way that can be easily understood by others. They should have a passion for research and a genuine desire to assist and support law enforcement in preventing and solving crimes.
In addition to the education, experience, and training requirements, crime analysts that have the following additional skills and abilities will have an edge over other candidates:
- Communication: Communicate effectively with City staff, the general public, and others contacted in the course of work.
- Trustworthy: Maintain confidentiality of sensitive information and data.
- Time-management skills: Effectively prioritize work; work under pressure within time constraints.
- Team player: Establish and maintain effective working relationships with those contacted in the course of work.
- Ability to learn: Learn and apply the uniform crime reporting processes and requirements; acquire knowledge of law enforcement needs, techniques, methods, and legal demands.
- Ability to generate useful reports: Prepare accurate, effective, and timely reports, correspondence, and other written materials.
- Application of principles: Learn and apply the principles and practices of police and public administration.
The field of crime analysis continues to grow as departments seek ways to save money by civilianizing positions and finding efficiencies. Because analysts can help agencies better allocate their manpower and at the same time find ways to reduce crime, the role of the analyst is proving invaluable to the law enforcement profession. This means that there will likely be ample opportunity to find a career as a crime analyst in the future.
A crime analyst will spend most of their time working in an office or laboratory, using a computer to collect, process, and analyze data.
A crime analyst works a regular full-time schedule, although they may need to work late or on the weekends if involved n a time-sensitive project.
How to Get the Job
PREPARE YOUR RESUME
Read job descriptions for the crime analyst position and rework your resume so that it presents your qualifications in a manner that highlights how well your experience and background fit the position.
Look at job-search resources like Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Glassdoor.com for available positions. You can also visit the websites of individual city or county governments to apply to existing job openings.
Comparing Similar Jobs
People interested in becoming a crime analyst also consider the following career paths, listed with their median annual salaries:
- Biological Technicians: $44,500
- Chemical technicians: $48,160
- Chemists and Materials Scientists: $78,330