Criminology is an exciting field that relies heavily on research to understand crime patterns and develop effective ways to reduce undesirable trends and behaviors.
Criminologists play an essential role in helping detectives and investigators understand criminal mindsets and motivations. But that is not all. Criminology is a field that is used throughout the judicial system. Moreover, you do not have to work at a police department either; with criminology, you can choose between many careers. So, there is plenty of room for advancement and growth.
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Why should I get a degree in criminology?
Fast-track to higher-level positions
Positions in the criminal justice system are in high demand. Many areas offer great recruitment bonuses and compensation packages, especially for those who want to work as law enforcement officers. With so many leaving departments or retiring, now has never been a better time to get your foot in the door and advance your career.
Ability to have many options after graduation
With a criminology degree, you will likely find many suitable positions at different locations. This means you are looking to make a move from where you live now, and a career in criminology and law enforcement degree can help make that happen.
There is always something to learn
Criminology is not a field for you if you don’t like excitement and intrigue. While there is a big difference between what you see on slick police and detective dramas and the reality of working in the field on an average day, it is a field that always presents challenges and excitement. You will learn something new no matter how long you work in the field.
A fulfilling and rewarding job helping others every day
While it may sound like you will be dealing with hardened criminals a lot, the fact is that criminology helps people. You will help the public stay safer, and, at the same time, you will be providing services that help others turn their lives around. Preventing someone from becoming a repeat offender is a great accomplishment, as there are so many jobs you can get with a criminology degree, and there are many ways to help others. For example, as a victim advocate, you will provide emotional support to victims and help them get the help they need to move on with their lives. As a probation officer, you will provide guidance and support to help convicted criminals stay on a better life path.
What jobs are suitable for someone with a degree in criminology?
Many criminology programs more than satisfy the requirements to enter a police training program. Even if there is a way to become a police officer without a bachelor’s degree, you will likely make a better salary to start and qualify for a better position with a degree. In addition, upward career mobility will take less time. Police officer positions vary but include patrolling, apprehending and arresting suspects, serving warrants and paperwork, transporting inmates, testifying in court when necessary and answering questions from the public you serve.
A parole officer meets with convicted criminals to make sure they are following the guidelines for their release. Officers provide counseling and support to help ensure people do not become repeat offenders. Parole officers need to have a personality capable of working with many different types of people. Some parole officers may work mostly with youth offenders, while others may take on more hardened and career criminals. Patience and the ability to be decisive are required to succeed in this career.
A criminology degree is the first step toward a career as a forensic psychologist. To qualify as a forensic psychologist, you need to have a doctorate and pass exams necessary for licensing. Forensic psychologists play many different roles, including conducting research, pinpointing psychological issues that led to criminal behavior, creating profiles of criminals for investigators, assessing offenders’ psychological state of mind and determining what treatments they need and if they are at serious risk of offending again. In addition, the testimony of a forensic psychologist may be used in trials or considered when offenders are up for parole or release.
Paralegal or lawyer
While you will need to get a law degree after your criminology degree, it is an excellent career path for someone who wants to be well-qualified to work in various roles within the justice system. Lawyers need to be confident and able to articulate their objectives well. In addition, you need to overcome your own prejudices to counsel a wide variety of clients, some of whom will definitely turn out to be guilty.
Many people study criminology, intending to eventually become a criminal investigator. Of course, this is a highly competitive and stressful job, but if you have a passion for justice and figuring things out no matter how difficult they might be to process, then criminal investigations is an area that you may thrive in and find extremely rewarding. It is important to remember that criminal investigations range from minor to shocking crimes. Therefore, an investigator must have a strong set of ethics and be able to work under a lot of pressure while maintaining a professional demeanor regardless of criticism.
Victim advocates help victims of crimes get the help they need to heal and recover. If you are a very emotionally stable person who enjoys helping others, a position as a victim advocate is a career path to consider. For example, a victim advocate may work at a crisis center, a police department, a hospital or a non-profit agency.
How do I become qualified for entry-level work in criminology?
A bachelor’s degree in criminology is required for many positions. Luckily, this is a degree you can achieve online, either full- or part-time. This makes criminology a more approachable career for those who need to work while they go to school or are looking for a career change. Some programs, like the Combined Honors BA in Criminology and Policing degree at Wilfred Laurier University, can be completed in as little as 2.5 years of full-time online enrollment. It is a top program for criminology study in Canada.
Prior education and degrees may decrease how long it takes to earn a degree in criminology
Credit hours from another degree may negate the need to take some courses and shorten how long it takes to earn your criminology degree. It is always important to show your transcripts when applying for any program. If you want to know where you stand before applying, an admissions counselor should be able to give you a better idea of how long your program should take based on your prior education.
Admissions standards for criminology and policing programs are reasonable
There is a high demand for police officers. Many departments have difficulty finding qualified persons to fill various roles within the criminal justice system. Degree programs have more reasonable admissions standards than you might imagine. Colleges are more concerned with enrolling motivated and passionate individuals that will make a good addition to departments than with being too picky about trivial transcript matters, like what grade you got in high school math.
Research methods are a critical component of any criminology degree or occupation
If you want to get a degree or work in the criminal justice system, then you need to be able to understand the research methods used to determine criminal patterns and come up with solutions to improve rates and the lives of everyone in your jurisdiction. Therefore, when you earn your degree, you will have to employ the following research methods extensively:
Survey research is conducted by asking people questions to gain information. Questions can vary and may be comprised of closed- and open-ended questions to gather a broad range of information and gauge emotional response. The method for gathering survey research might be in person, if the situation warrants it, but information may be gathered via email, phone or video conference. Information gathered via survey research may be limited in scope, depending on the sample size and how well-worded the questions are. Therefore, to ensure that one gets the most out of survey research, it pays to carefully construct questions to make sure they are clear and straightforward so you can gain the information you desire without having to provoke the individual too much to divulge anything useful.
Experimental research helps us see cause-and-effect relationships more clearly. It is critical that much thought and planning go into an experimental design before it is executed, or one can find they have done a lot of work for little or nothing. All experiments need to have a test and control group to make logical conclusions after the data is gathered.
A cross-sectional study focuses on a single group at a specific point in time. A sample that is representative of the group being focused on is closely studied, and the findings are compiled so that researchers have a general idea of what opinion the total group is most likely to have. An example of this would be asking only females between the ages of 18-35 living in a specific neighborhood if they feel safe.
Longitudinal research is comprised of cohort and panel. A panel study examines the same group over time, while a cohort study concentrates on a specific population. An example of a panel study could be asking a member of selected households the same questions spaced at six-month intervals. A cohort study would analyze the criminal records of all women in a town under the age of 18.
A great example of a study that fits the time series definition would be comparing crime rates over time in a city or neighborhood. If crime seems to be trending heavily upward, then criminologists would use this data to determine why. This information is the starting point for planning out long-term programs and solutions to reduce criminal activity.
For some, meta-analysis is one of the most useful forms of research because it combines many studies to make broader conclusions. For example, a criminologist may look at a study of rates of alcohol abuse in a specific area and a study on rates of domestic violence and conclude that the rates are related.
Requires a wide range of classes
A degree in criminology involves more than just taking classes on major crime. You will be required to take courses in economics, race relations, ethics, psychology, neuroscience, statistics, criminal behavior, justice and more. The combination of classes forms a solid foundation for understanding how crimes occur and the social factors contributing to increased rates.
Classes on ethics and relations between races help criminologists be more understanding and build a strong set of personal ethics so they can be fair and just in their decisions when in a position of power.
A degree in criminology offers a lot of different career options. It is also a degree that is ideal for those that know they want to seek more advanced degrees for higher-level positions within the criminal justice system. In addition, criminology degrees are within reach of more people than ever due to the availability of online programs.
If you are looking for a fulfilling career with a lot of potential for growth in the future, then you should consider the field of criminology and law enforcement.