The term 'criminologist' itself seems to be so intelligent and challenging, that one can imagine the thrill and passion that comes along with this career option. I mean wouldn't it be exceptionally challenging, yet interesting, to read criminal minds and behaviors, and to be able to help the society to prevent crimes? Imagine the challenging thrill in studying the pattern in which they commit crime! Though it is not possible for the common public to see how real life criminologist solve mysteries and puzzles to catch hold of some exceptionally brilliant criminal minds, the television series like CSI and Criminal Minds give us an apt idea of how the mind of a criminologist works.
Remember the movie 'Zodiac', which was based on a true story? How challenging was it to catch him, in fact, nobody could ever catch him! They say that truth is stranger than fiction. Therefore, if you are really considering criminology as a serious career option, you need to have a highly analytical and intellectual mindset, because obviously, you will be required to think like the criminal. So, how to go about becoming a criminologist? The following section explains the same.
Steps to Become a Criminologist
A criminologist is an expert in criminology. Criminology, as the term suggests, is a scientific study of criminal behavior involving an in-depth understanding of the cause, nature, and pattern of crimes that are being committed in the society, and ultimately preventing crimes to occur at all. Sounds exciting right? However, if you really want to be a criminologist, be prepared to be involved in hours of intense study involving criminal psychology, sociology of deviance, criminal justice, and statistical studies. Mentioned below is a step by step process of how you have to prepare for becoming a criminologist.
Get a Bachelor's Degree
Although limited in number, but there are some schools that offer a bachelor's degree in criminology. If you are unable to get a bachelor's in criminology, then you should work on getting a bachelor's degree in criminal justice, psychology, and sociology. Because a criminologist should also be good at studying and analyzing statistical data, and express his or her findings through a well written report, you should also choose electives like computer science, logic, math, statistics, and writing.
The Obvious... Master's Degree
The more knowledge you gain, the better it would be for your career growth. Obtaining a master's degree in behavioral sciences or criminology itself would be an added advantage in your resume. Because this career option is highly intellectual and analytical, you must try to get each and every educational qualification to understand each and every aspect in a better way.
Work Part-Time as an Intern
What you read and what you experience, are two absolutely different exposures when it comes to understanding the subject. Theoretical knowledge is important, but field experience is a different way of understanding the theoretical knowledge in its practical form! While doing your bachelor's or master's degree, speak to your counselor or professor on how you should go about gaining some work experience. A field work while studying would be an added qualification which would improve your chances of a better career ahead.
Think You'd Like to Go for a PhD?
Going for a doctorate is a good option, especially if you plan to teach the subject in the future. Even in terms of salary, possessing a qualification of a PhD would fetch you a better pay package apart from giving you an in-depth understanding about the subject.
Check Your State Requirements
Well, when it comes to becoming a criminologist, each and every state has different requirements. On one hand, there are some states that don't need a license, while there are some which would want you to sit for an exam to obtain license. So check your state requirements accordingly!
Decide Where You Want to Be!
If you want to teach in universities and colleges and prepare reports after critically studying on the subject, then that requires you to have your PhD in hand. Otherwise you can work at any level, be it local, state, or federal government agency, based on your qualifications.
So, these were the essential guidelines on how to become a criminologist. Now you must be wondering that how long does it take to become a criminologist? Well, it completely depends on how much you study, that is, whether you go for a master's or a PhD, or attend school on a full-time or part-time basis. It may take anywhere from 4 to 6 years. A criminologist salary also depends upon your qualification. So make sure you consult with your counselor properly and start on your preparation as soon as possible. All the best!