Job Description:

Criminologists look at the reasons why people commit crimes and find ways to reduce re-offending.

Job Category:
Government & Public Services

What you will do:

In this role you could:

  • research the reasons why people commit crime
  • advise policy makers in the justice and policing systems
  • analyse data from surveys and intelligence to spot trends
  • work on crime reduction and rehabilitation programmes
  • recommend ways to improve the effectiveness of punishments
  • visit prisons and probation services to speak to offenders and ex-offenders
  • attend conferences and present research findings
  • teach students at college or university


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of sociology and anthropology for understanding society and culture
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • maths knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

As well as:

  • excellent written communication skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • persistence and determination (drive)
  • adaptable 
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a criminologist, you typically need to pursue a combination of educational qualifications and develop relevant skills and knowledge. Criminology is a multidisciplinary field, so you’ll study a variety of subjects to gain a comprehensive understanding of crime, its causes, and its consequences. Here are the key subjects you should consider when preparing for a career in criminology:

  1. Criminology: This is the core subject that covers the study of crime, its patterns, causes, and consequences. It includes the examination of various theories of crime and criminal behavior.
  2. Sociology: Sociology provides insight into the social factors that contribute to criminal behavior. It helps you understand how society, culture, and social structures impact crime.
  3. Psychology: Understanding the psychological aspects of criminal behavior is essential. Courses in abnormal psychology, forensic psychology, and criminal psychology can be particularly useful.
  4. Law: A foundational understanding of the legal system is crucial for criminologists. Courses in criminal law, criminal procedure, and constitutional law are valuable.
  5. Anthropology: Anthropology can provide insights into the cultural and biological factors that influence crime and criminal behavior.
  6. Political Science: Political science can help you understand how government policies and political factors impact crime rates and criminal justice systems.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a graduate training scheme

You can do a degree in:

  • criminology
  • criminal justice and psychology
  • sociology
  • youth justice
  • law and criminology

You can also do a postgraduate qualification in criminology. Most degree subjects are accepted as entry but relevant work experience can also be taken into account.

It is useful to get experience through internships, volunteering and work placements during your studies. For example, you could work with adults or young people affected by the criminal justice system, or people who are the victims of crime. This can help you explore the options for future research or criminology specialisms.

Other Routes
In the UK, for example, you could apply for a place on the Government Social Research Fast Stream programme to work in the Civil Service.

You’ll need an upper second-class degree or better, in criminology or social sciences, to apply.

You’ll also need to:

  • pass enhanced background checks
  • pass security checks

Working Hours and Environment:

You could work in an office, in a prison or visit sites.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding and you may spend nights away from home.

Career Path & Progression:

You could become a senior policy adviser on crime and crime reduction with local or national government, the police or the probation service.

You could also work as a specialist researcher in particular offences, for example online abuse, organised crime or youth offending.

You could have an academic career in a university and become a professor of criminology.

With further training, you might move into social or probation work, a career in law or join the security services.