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Criminologist  What They Do

Just the Facts


Insider Info

dotSome criminologists research the "hard" sciences in crime labs. Others conduct behavioral research in the social sciences (known as the "soft" sciences). The research findings are used to help police, courts, prosecutors and other groups deal more effectively with the impact of crime.

dotCriminologists seek answers to questions such as:

  • What factors contribute to violence against police?
  • What do serial killers tend to have in common?
  • What are the long-term effects of crime on the victims?

To address these questions, criminologists might analyze police reports, develop and administer surveys, hold focus groups, conduct interviews, perform statistical analyses and more.

Criminologists produce reports of their findings. They might deliver these reports in written form or orally. Public speaking is often a requirement.

dotIt is important for criminologists to keep current on issues facing police, lawyers and the courts.

dotCriminologists work for police agencies, government bodies, community organizations and nonprofit associations. Many work as professors and teachers. Some criminologists are self-employed as consultants, public speakers and expert witnesses.

The criminal justice system offers many types of jobs for criminologists, says Les Smith. He is the criminal justice manager at a county administrator's office in Fort Worth, Texas. Some criminologists work for the police, but there are also jobs with sheriffs, prosecutors, the courts and the corrections system.

dotSmith says criminologists rely on technology. "We use the Internet to conduct research," he says. "There is no limit on the amount of information that can be found, evaluated and analyzed."

According to Smith, integrating computer and radio systems with the community, police, prosecution, courts and connections has become a priority. "Community safety is the basis for these initiatives."

dotSmith believes that a person with a physical disability could work as a criminologist.

At a Glance

Study crime

  • Criminologists must keep current on issues facing police, lawyers and the courts
  • Not all of them work for the police
  • Get an MA or a PhD in a field such as criminology, forensic science or sociology