First, it is important to understand the differences between the fields of criminology and criminal justice. While studies in the field of criminal justice are more focused on the systems in place surrounding crime and corrections, criminology is more focused on the behavioral side of law enforcement. Those who study criminology will not focus so much on the prosecution and punishment of lawbreakers, but rather the reasons crimes are committed in the first place and the effect that they have on society as a whole.

Because the field has such a heavy focus on the behavioral aspect of crime, students who decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminology can expect to be required to take coursework that has an emphasis on psychology and sociology. The skills learned in these classes will help you to be able to form an understanding of the thought processes behind committing crimes, known as psychological profiling, which can be used to predict future criminal behavior and figure out ways to help with prevention.

In addition to psychology and sociology, coursework associated with a bachelor’s degree in criminology will also have a heavy focus on statistical analysis, technology, and writing.

You will be taught how to expertly analyze rates of crime and other associated statistics, and to evaluate how these are affected by different type of law enforcement methods. You will also gain knowledge of the latest technology used in the field and how it is utilized to study crime and communicate the knowledge gained.

Studying criminology can open numerous doors in the criminal justice field, and obtaining a bachelor’s degree helps to increase the chances of future advancement of your career. While the first jobs that may come to mind are that of a police or corrections officer within the criminal justice system, there is actually quite a wide range of careers within a number of different environments.  

As a criminologist, you may have the opportunity to work with government officials, colleges and universities, or other public policy-making groups to help coordinate and improve the activities and functions which will help prevent and reduce crime. Though these jobs may not be directly within law enforcement agencies, they still generally work closely with local or state police officials on the policies that affect communities.

Another career that is popular among criminology graduates is forensic psychology. A forensic psychologist may investigate criminal reports and use profiling skills to aide in solving cases. They may also specialize in evaluating the mental state of criminals, witnesses, or potential jurors in legal trials. These jobs may be available directly within government agencies, or on a contractual consulting basis.

Criminology graduates can also be found working as private investigators, security specialists, legal aides, social workers, college professors, and more.

While earning a bachelor’s degree in criminology will not guarantee you a specific salary after you graduate, those who land jobs in the law enforcement field typically average anywhere from $35,000 to $55,000 annually. Keep in mind, however, that those who work in specialized areas can make much more, while criminology professionals in academics often make somewhat less than that average.

After your bachelor’s degree, you may also consider obtaining a master’s or doctorate in criminology to help you further your career. Additionally, some states do require licensing in order to practice as a professional in the field.