Do you find yourself asking the question "why?" frequently? Do you like to search for answers, make connections, and uncover the truth? If so, a career in criminology may intrigue you. Give me a moment to tell you exactly what a criminologist does.
Criminologists are responsible for studying crime and criminal law in depth. They analyze criminal behavior patterns and criminal laws, and provide theoretical explanations for criminal and delinquent behavior. Additionally, they try and uncover the reasons behind mistakes and errors occurring in the judicial system, such as a person being wrongly convicted of a crime or a guilty person escaping punishment. Finding answers and sharing the knowledge they've learned to improve the criminal justice process is their ultimate quest.
Through conducting research and teaching others about what they've learned and studied, criminologists contribute a great deal of knowledge to a wide variety of criminal justice fields including, but not specifically limited to: corrections, policing, police administration and policy, juvenile justice and delinquency, correctional administration and policy, drug addiction, criminal ethnography, criminal behavior models, radical or theoretical criminology, and victimology. In addition, they evaluate various biological, sociological, and psychological factors related to criminology. Some criminologists may also engage themselves in community initiatives and evaluation and policy projects with local, state, and federal criminal justice agencies.
Criminologists work in a variety of settings and generally specialize in one area and continually build upon their knowledge base to become an expert of sorts in one specific area of criminology. It's important to have experts to turn to when specific crimes occur to better understand the crimes themselves and to better help those affected by the criminal acts.
While some criminologists conduct their own research while teaching courses in legal studies, criminology, sociology, or law at a college or university, others work in private practice where they provide consulting services in areas such as juvenile justice, adult corrections, crime statistics, victim services, and law reform. Others work for city, county, state, and federal justice agencies in such capacities as research officers or policy advisers. The field of criminology is widely varied and so are the career opportunities.
The course of study to become a criminologist includes a four-year degree in criminal justice or a related area such as psychology or sociology from a college or university and after that, a master's degree in Criminology from an accredited graduate school. Additionally, criminologists who are employed by universities, especially larger ones, generally have a Ph.D. as well.
In summary, criminologists are a very important part of the legal system as they search for the answers to why crimes are committed and how to effectively deal with crimes and criminals. They are very important in finding ways to prevent crime, better help those affected by it, and improve the judicial system that deals with it.