What Can You Do With A Criminology Degree?

To uncover career paths in criminology, it is important to know just what you’re looking for. The study of criminology focuses on all aspects of crime in society, including its causes and ways to prevent or control it. Criminology also looks at the psychology behind criminal behavior in an effort to decrease or diminish crime rates completely.

Types of Crime

In order to study criminology at a higher education facility, it would be wise to first familiarize yourself with the various types of crime. Below, you will find a brief description of each, including examples.

Morality crime – (victimless crime) illegal action that goes against safe and healthy values and teachings (i.e., illegal gambling, prostitution)

Personal crime – illegal action performed against individuals or groups with the intent of causing physical pain (i.e., rape, murder)

Property crime – illegal action performed against individuals or groups that usually causes them no physical harm (i.e., theft, arson, defacing property)

White collar crime – illegal action committed by individuals of high authority or social status within their occupations (i.e., stealing from employers, tax evading)

Organized crime – illegal action committed by groups, typically distribution of illegal goods/services (i.e., illegal drugs, prostitution, illegal gambling)

With a degree in criminology, you may find a job that focuses on just one of the above topics or encompasses them all.

How to Get Your Criminology Degree

When you’re filling out the course selection sheet for your senior year of high school, consult your guidance counselor. If you’re set on studying criminology in college, tell her. Ask her what courses you should take during your last year of high school that may benefit your future in studying criminology. Once you start your senior year, you should devote some of your time to finding colleges that offer top-of-the-line criminology courses. The list of Top 10 Schools Offering a Criminology Degree should help you get started. Just a few of them can be found below.

The University of Maryland, College Park, offers one of the best criminology programs in the United States. The school’s criminology and criminal justice program offers an exceptional blend of crime and justice services, with research opportunities as well as available internships to provide you with the most experience as possible before you enter the workforce.

The University of California, Irvine (UCI), falls in at number 2 on the top 10 list. The public university’s undergraduate program for criminology–Criminology, Law and Society (CLS)–focuses on social, political, and economical aspects of law as well as criminal and juvenile justice. The program also preps students for graduate studies in criminology and other areas of law.

Old Dominion University offers outstanding studies in criminal justice. Although the school does not offer a criminology bachelors degree, it does have options for students to major or minor in criminal justice. Graduate programs, on the other hand, include not only a masters degree opportunity in applied sociology but a doctoral degree in criminology and criminal justice.

Careers in Criminology

Ever wonder, “What can I do with a degree in criminology?” You will find a few answers to that question right here. A degree in a field related to criminology can open many new doors for you.

Entry Level Careers in Criminology

With a bachelors degree in criminology, you will be able to slide into many different entry level positions in the field of law.

Juvenile Corrections Officer

If you are interested in helping to maintain order in a juvenile corrections facility, then perhaps consider a career as a corrections officer. Juvenile corrections officers deal with children as young as 7 years old to the age of 17, so an officer needs to have the ability to keep a level and mature mind and remain patient as kids throw tantrums on a regular basis. In order to become a juvenile corrections officer, you should have at least a bachelors degree in criminology, and a minor or concentration in psychology would be particularly helpful.

As a juvenile corrections officer, you can expect to make around $27,000 to start. Your salary has the potential to increase as experience increases.

Legal Assistant

Legal assistants work as secretaries in law firms. They are often responsible for everyday office duties, such as filing casework and receiving and forwarding calls; but legal assistants are responsible for more than the average secretarial duties. Legal assistants aid lawyers by typing up legal documents, such as briefs and subpoenas, and scheduling meetings and hearings. They possess advanced knowledge of government and state laws and regulations. Required skills include fast and accurate typing as well as impressive written and verbal communication.

Legal assistants can earn around $28,000 to start, with the potential to grow in experience and earn up to $66,000.

Police Detective

If you are interested in getting involved with a career in law enforcement, with a bachelors degree in criminology and a bit of training you may qualify for a position as a police detective. Your background in criminology will prepare you with the critical thinking skills needed to prevent or deteriorate crime, to catch runaway criminals. Police detectives possess high reasoning and communication skills for interrogations and interacting with officers in various departments.

Police detectives can make an average of $54,000 annually.

Advanced Careers in Criminology

If you earn a bachelors degree in psychology or law and go on to earn your masters degree or doctorate degree in criminology (or vice versa), many more career opportunities will open up for you.

FBI Agent

FBI agents are required to complete a program in 1 of 5 categories: law, accounting, computer science/technology, language, or diversified. Each category has slightly different qualifications, but a bachelors degree in criminology is desired in general, with a minor or a masters degree in a field related to a specific category. At least 2 years of field experience are required, and the program a potential agent enters will provide him/her with the training necessary for that field of work.

Fairly new FBI agents can make around $60,000 annually with the potential for a raise once more experience is gained.


It is possible to become a criminologist with only a bachelors degree in criminology, but it is highly recommended that you obtain a masters or doctorate in order to best qualify for the position. It is the responsibility of a criminologist to analyze criminal behavior and determine motives behind the criminal acts committed. Criminologists are occasionally seen at the scene of a crime.

Criminologists can make anywhere from around $60,000 to over $90,000 a year, depending on whether they work for state or government agencies.


To be a judge in the court of law, you need to earn a law degree. A background in criminology and psychology are also recommended. Judges, whether in the juvenile system or adult court system, are responsible for analyzing cases and sentencing criminals. In order to determine what sentence a juvenile or adult earns, judges need to use their knowledge of government and state laws. In many cases, people aiming to become court judges typically start out as lawyers.

Judges are capable of earning over $110,000 a year, depending on location and experience among other factors.

Companies that Hire People with Criminology Degrees

Many jobs are available with people who possess degrees in criminology, and the field is only projected to increase within the next few years. Below is a list of companies that hire individuals looking for jobs in the criminal justice field.

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services – protects children, elderly and/or disabled adults, manages childcare facilities (including foster homes), runs programs to prevent delinquency and crime; hires social workers, investigators, nurses, etc.

New York Police Department – New York City, NY; hires officers, detectives, etc.

RAND Corporation – formed right after World War II; organization that uses research and analysis to provide safety to society; hires criminologists, detectives, etc.

New Mexico State Personnel Office – human resource services to keep state of NM running smoothly; hires auditors, judges, administrators, etc.

For jobs in the law enforcement field nearest you, the internet is a wonderful tool. Criminology is a unique and powerful field of study. higher education facilities, make sure you submit applications to at least three schools. Job opportunities in the field of criminal justice are available throughout the country.

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