Jobs With a Criminology Degree

Crime shows can be exciting, but jobs in criminology extend far beyond a script. If your passion is helping people and you want to serve your community and make a difference, working in the criminal justice system can be extremely rewarding. Careers in criminology also offer excellent job security, competitive salaries and substantial benefits. Read on to learn more about this exciting field and find out if a career in criminology is the right fit for you.

What Is Criminology?

Criminology is a field that examines criminal acts in a societal context to identify ways to prevent criminal behavior and reduce recidivism.

Criminologists help others by learning more about the roots of violence, effects of early trauma and the impact of crime on victims. They are also instrumental in developing intervention and rehabilitation programs that improve society for everyone.

A career in criminology requires knowledge and training in fields such as criminal justice, sociology and psychology. With a few exceptions, these careers require at least a bachelor’s degree. Opportunities, particularly in leadership, expand with a master’s level education. Learn more about criminology degree at the University of Montana.

Criminology vs. Criminal Justice

Criminal justice and criminology are closely related fields, but they’re not identical. Criminology studies crime from individual and societal perspectives, while criminal justice involves society’s response to crime.

Just like psychology is the study of the psyche, criminology is the study of society. As a criminologist, you’ll research, analyze and advise on all the causes of deviant behavior.

The criminal justice system is focused on consequences. It includes law enforcement, crime investigation, the courts and correctional institutions. In short, criminal justice is the application of criminology.

Why Choose a Career in Criminology?

Helping law enforcement solve crimes—or better yet, prevent them—can be very fulfilling. Jobs in criminology offer unique opportunities to dissect the reasons and motives behind criminal behavior, look at generational changes and cultural pressures, and help develop programs that improve our justice system and empower others in the process.

Kayla Ballou, who graduated with a concentration in criminology in spring 2021, is headed to law school eventually but first spent time working for Tumbleweed, a Billings-based agency serving homeless, trafficked, runaway and other at-risk Montana youth and their families. She finds each day a new and challenging adventure.

“Your daily interactions are always different,” says Ballou. “It’s exciting to show the community the work we do and how we impact youth in need, and how the community can help as well.”

Here are more reasons to consider working in the criminology field:

Careers in criminology offer job security

Although specific data is not available for criminology, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports steady job growth for both sociologists and police and detectives over the next decade.

Jobs with a criminology degree offer diverse options

With a degree, there are many careers in criminology open to you, working in prisons, universities, police stations, government agencies, courtrooms and nonprofit social service organizations. You can also consult in the private sector.

Criminology careers offer competitive salaries

According to the BLS, the median wage for sociologists (which typically includes the field of criminology) is $92,910. Keep in mind that salaries can vary significantly depending on your experience and education.

What Can You Do with a Criminology Degree?

The primary career areas for criminology include criminal profiling and forensic psychology. There is also overlap between criminology and criminal law work. For example, a forensic psychologist is often also involved profiling offenders, and jobs with a criminology degree can provide insight to trial preparation and jury selection.

Throughout your career as a criminologist, you’ll apply your knowledge, education and training in a variety of ways including victim’s rights, forensic technologies, white collar crime and DNA/RHA evidence.

Deciding on degree options comes down to your interests, talents and level of leadership you want to achieve. Let’s review some of the professional pathways available to you based on level of education.

A list of careers in criminology: bachelor’s degree

Careers in criminology tend to be more academic focused than those in criminal justice. A bachelor’s in criminology can lead to several career paths:

  • Police officer
  • Corrections officer
  • Criminologist
  • Forensic science technician
  • Probation and community control office
  • Loss prevention specialist

A list of careers in criminology: master’s degree

As the field of criminology continues to grow, those with a robust academic background have a distinct advantage. Jobs with a criminology degree at the master’s level include:

  • Correctional Officer Supervisor
  • Police and Detective Supervisor
  • Forensic Psychologist
  • Criminal Profiler
  • Victim Advocate

A list of careers in criminology: doctoral degree

Ph.D. programs in criminology explore the methodology and rigorous scientific research needed to inform public policy and practice. Doctorate level degrees also offer the opportunity to explore interdisciplinary areas such as law and sociology in its broader application.

Depending on your interdisciplinary concentration, jobs with a criminology degree at the doctorate level include:

  • College professor
  • Researcher
  • Writer
  • Forensic Investigator
  • Policy Analyst
  • FBI, NSA, DEA or IRS Agent
  • Secret Service Agent
  • Cybersecurity Analyst

Where Do Criminologists Work?

Criminologists work in university settings conducting research and teaching. They conduct research about the issues related to crime such as poverty and addiction. They also teach police administration and policy, juvenile justice, victimology and macro levels of criminology. Some criminologists focus on a specific age group or culture, or work with certain types of crimes.

These are just some of the places where you can work as a criminologist:

  • Court systems
  • Correction institutions
  • Federal and state law enforcement agencies
  • Local law enforcement agencies
  • Bank and financial institutions
  • Private investigation agencies
  • Insurance companies
  • Counseling agencies
  • Nonprofits

Start Your Criminology Career: Earn Your Degree in Criminology at the University of Montana

UM is the only college in Montana offering a bachelor’s degree in criminology. For several years UM offered a sociology degree with a concentration in criminology. In spring 2023, UM created a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminology to meet the growing demand for this degree. 

Learn more about the University of Montana’s Criminology B.A degree program.

Explore UM’s Master of Arts in Sociology (Criminology Option).