Popular television shows like "CSI," "Criminal Minds," and "Law & Order" help inspire students to to pursue degrees in criminology. This approach to crime studies it as a social phenomenon and thus a social problem. Students and professionals in the field research all aspects of crime and its effects on society as a whole. This contrasts criminal justice, which establishes systems for detecting crimes and prosecuting and punishing offenders. The two fields are complementary, but they take different approaches.
Earning a degree in criminology can open the door to a host of fascinating and rewarding careers. Jobs in both criminology and criminal justice offer security along with excellent healthcare and retirement benefits.
Perhaps more important than the benefits, though, is the knowledge that work done in the fields of criminology or criminal justice help improve communities and society. People who earn criminology degrees have a rare opportunity to make the world a better place.
Criminology careers tend to be more academic in focus than those in criminal justice, though there is some overlap between the two. It also is not uncommon for a person to earn a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's in criminology, or vice versa.
Many of the nonacademic careers available in the criminology field may not require any college training at all. These often overlap within the realm of criminal justice and typically are entry-level jobs with degrees more beneficial to future advancement.
A bachelor's degree in criminology bachelors can lead to several careers:
- Police officer
- Corrections officer
- Forensic science technician
- Probation and community control officer
- Loss prevention specialist
Perhaps the most notable career available to criminology majors, of course, is that of a criminologist. Though a master's degree or doctorate typically is required, criminologists specialize in a number of different areas, such as environmental criminology, which emphasizes the details of the surroundings where crimes occur.
Criminologists also have been responsible for improving police activities and functions through innovations such as community-oriented policing and predictive policing. Criminologists work in a variety of environments, including:
- Colleges and universities
- Legislative bodies
- Public policy areas
Criminologists may work as college professors or as advisers to local, state, or federal legislative bodies. They help form public policy as it relates to the prevention of crime by working closely with police departments to help them better serve their communities.
Another fascinating career field for aspiring criminology majors may be found in forensic psychology. A master's degree or doctorate in psychology typically is necessary in addition to any undergraduate degree earned.
Forensic psychologists often study criminal behavior and the psychological aspects of criminals in order to identify patterns. They also study the impacts of different law enforcement techniques. Overall, forensic psychologist work in a number of different environments under job titles including:
Other Criminology Careers
Crime impacts nearly every aspect of society and nearly every industry has a need for investigative services, loss prevention, or fraud protection. In addition, a degree in criminology can lay the foundation for other related careers, such as attorneys, counselors, and social workers. Other careers available to criminology majors might include:
- Private investigator
- Insurance fraud investigator
- Security specialist