Careers with a Criminology Degree


Although you may not have had a specific career in mind when you enrolled in a criminology program, the skills you acquire throughout your course of study will open the doors to a multitude of possibilities; both in careers directly related to the degree, as well as those not directly related to it.



What You Can Do with a Criminology Degree

Many undergraduate criminology students go on to law school, or pursue careers in areas such as policing, corrections, and social work. Some decide to pursue graduate studies in order to further their education.


However, as you'll see below, those aren't the only options. There are a multitude of possible career paths that are relevant to this degree.




What a Criminology Degree Teaches You

Criminology is the study of the causes of criminal behavior and the variety of social responses to it. These programs encompass the examination of issues of social and ethical responsibility, as well as the exploration of the conflicting values within the criminal justice system.


The coursework is not typically designed as professional training for criminology careers, although the knowledge gained over the course of the degree does help prepare you careers in this field, as well as outside of it.


Undergraduate criminology programs, in Canada and the United States, aim to provide students with a foundation for the understanding of crime and the administration of justice domestically as well as in a global context.


To accomplish this, they incorporate theory, research methods, and knowledge from a wide range of other disciplines such as history, philosophy, sociology, political science, psychology, law and economics.


Areas of study typically include:


• Crime and criminal behavior

• Theories of crime causation

• The criminal justice system

• Principles and themes of criminal law



Relevant Scholarships

Are you a criminology major looking for help paying for school? Search our scholarships database for Canadian and American criminology-specific scholarships.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.



Employable Skills You Can Learn

Criminology-specific skill set

As a result of this coursework, a major in criminology provides you with a set of skills that is specific to the subject matter. These skills apply to careers that are directly related to the degree:


• An understanding of the criminal justice system from historical, political, sociological and legal perspectives, including current theories and research

• Knowledge of the roles of public and private agencies in regulation and policing

• The skills to explore and critically analyze criminological theories about why people commit crime

• Ability to gather and assess information related to the prediction and management of criminal and deviant behaviors

• An understanding of the causes of crime as well as strategies for its prevention

• Knowledge of theories and research methodology used in the field of criminology

• An educated perspective of how the interests of various groups shape the manner in which society responds to unwanted behavior



Career Directly Related to This Field of Study

Now that you have an idea of what skills you can list on your resume, it's time to find out what career options you'll have. The skills listed above are directly applicable to the following occupations:


• Airport Security Officer

• Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Officer

• Bailiff

• Behavior Analyst

• Bodyguard

• Border Services Officer

• By-Law Enforcement Officer

• Citizenship and Immigration Officer

• Conservation Officer

• Correctional Counselor

• Correctional Officer

• Court Administrator

• Crime Victim Specialist

• Criminal Analyst

• Criminologist

• Deportation Officer

• Discrimination Investigator

• Domestic Abuse Investigator

• Domestic Violence Victim Advocate

• Family Enforcement Worker

• Fish and Game Warden

• Government Researcher

• Halfway House Supervisor

• Intelligence Officer

• Juvenile Correctional Officer

• Park Warden

• Parole Officer

• Penologist

• Police Detective

• Police Officer

• Postal Inspector

• Postal Service Investigator

• Pre-Trial Services Officer

• Prison Warden

• Probation Officer

• Research Assistant

• Security Guard

• Witness Protection Program Worker



Other Employable Skills Taught by this Degree

Aside from the criminology-specific skills and competencies you can learn, other skills are gained as the result of being a university student in general. These general skills are highly transferrable to a wide range of careers, depending on what your interests and values are.


Communication: Communicate ideas clearly and effectively in a variety of mediums


Project management: Properly set priorities and handle multiple assignments and tasks simultaneously


Information management: Locate, gather and organize information using the appropriate technology and information systems


Critical analysis: Use critical thinking skills to evaluate and solve problems, as well as demonstrate the ability to be creative and innovative in identifying solutions


Teamwork: Establish good relations with the people you work with as well as respecting individual differences


Citizenship and global perspective: Integrates an awareness of how social, organizational, and global issues are inter-related with individual and local concerns


Research: Conduct research as well as summarize and explain research results


Organization: Design, plan, organize and implement projects and tasks within a specific timeframe



Other Careers: Applicable to the General Skills You’ve Gained

Careers in other industries that you can pursue based on the above-mentioned general skills include (but are not at all limited to):


• Aboriginal Housing Advocate

• Consumer Advocate

• Group Home Worker

• Law Clerk

• Lawyer

• Legal Advisor

• Legal Analyst

• Legal Assistant

• Mayor

• Paralegal

• Psychiatrist

• Psychologist

• Psychotherapist

• Recruiter

• Revenue Officer

• Social Worker

• University Professor

• Zoning Inspector 





Factors That Influence Your Future Salary

The salary you could earn as a criminology graduate depends on what career you pursue. For example, if you go on to become a crime victim specialist, your earnings may be different, for better or for worse, from what you would earn if you choose to become an airport security officer. Other factors that have an effect on your earnings include:


• Your level of education (such as if you went on to graduate studies)

• The industry in which you find work

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• Other work experience you may have accrued

• Other skills you may have



Sample Salary Figures

Despite this wide array of conditions your future salary is dependent on, we do have some concrete numbers for you to consider:


Criminology Graduate Salary Canada: According to a study in 2011 conducted by the Ontario Council of Universities, $43,468 CAD is the average salary earned by Social Science graduates 2 years after graduating from Ontario universities in 2008. Unfortunately, there are no salary statistics available from reliable sources for the rest of Canada, or the United States.


Success Tip: To get a better idea of what you could earn, click on some of the career fields listed above, in the "Career Guides: Directly Related to a Criminology Degree" section. It is more accurate (although still not perfect) to estimate your potential future salary based on the career field you plan on pursuing, rather than by your general degree.



Sectors of Industry for Criminology Careers

Criminology careers can take many forms. Below are examples of some of the sectors of industry that hire criminology graduates.


• Corrections System

• Counseling

• Criminal Investigation

• Diversion Programming

• Financial Fraud Investigation/Prevention

• Forensics

• Insurance Fraud Investigation/Prevention

• Judicial System / Courts

• Law Enforcement

• Medical Investigation

• Rehabilitation

• Research in Policy Studies

• Private Investigation

• Psychology - Psychopathology Specialist

• Special Agencies

• Teaching

• Youth Programming & Counseling



Government-Based Careers

In addition to private organizations, criminology graduates often find employment in the public sector: with government agencies and departments. Below is a list of examples of government agencies and departments in Canada that hire Criminology graduates.


• Canadian Security Intelligence Service

• Correctional Service Canada

• Courts Administration Service

• Office of the Commissioner for Federal Judicial Affairs

• Department of Justice Canada

• Department of National Defence

• Health Canada

• Law Commission of Canada

• Ministry of Public Safety and Emergence Preparedness Canada

• Office of the Correctional Investigator

• Royal Canadian Mounted Police

• Supreme Court of Canada

• The National Parole Board



Gaining Career Experience as a Student

Taking practicum courses and working as an intern can be a great advantage for you if you’re hoping to get into a career in criminology after graduation. Some criminology degree programs may require you to pursue these opportunities as an academic requirement, while others may not.


Practicum courses

Practicum courses, when available, are typically offered as an elective or are a requirement of your criminology degree program. Practicum courses are a chance to gain ‘real-world’ experience in a career field related to your ambitions and interests. You may be able to job shadow a police officer, volunteer with a community group or pursue other similar opportunities.



Internships are opportunities to gain career work experience while completing your degree. An internship allows you to intern with a professional agency in a position best suited for your career goals and interests. These programs may or may not count towards credit for your degree, depending on the arrangement between yourself, your school and the employer.


Whether or not they are mandatory, practicum and internship opportunities are highly recommended as they have many benefits, including:


• Meeting professionals who are established in criminology-related careers

• Getting your foot in the door with an organization

• Finding out what working in the field is actually like

• Meet academic requirements

• May supplement your income


Since these opportunities are often an academic requirement, you will likely have the opportunity arranged for you, or at least a variety of potential options presented to you. If it is not a requirement, speak with your professors, other criminology department staff as well as your school’s guidance and career counselors to help you find a suitable opportunity.




Traits of a Successful Intern

Just because you’ve landed an internship, doesn’t guarantee that your future is solidified. Making a great impression is the key to success in an internship position. Below are some of the traits and characteristics of successful interns.


• Demonstrate motivation

• Seen as a ‘self-directed’ learner who knows when to ask for help

• Proper preparation for research and similar tasks

• Open minded and non-judgmental

• Respectful to co-workers and others in the building

• Demonstrate a passion for work

• Dedicated and committed work ethic



criminology careers



Professional Associations for Criminology

The field of criminology has a number of professional associations that support ethics in the profession, report current research findings and foster partnerships among its members. These associations also frequently list job postings.


If you are interested in a career directly related to criminology, you should consult these websites for more information:


American Society of Criminology

Canadian Criminal Justice Association

International Society for Criminology

Western Society of Criminology


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