Criminology careers constitute one of the fastest growing areas of the American economy. It's an unfortunate fact that crime is a significant aspect of modern life, but the silver lining of the situation is that rampant crime means large numbers of people are needed to deal with the situation. For anyone with an interest in these areas, employment prospects are excellent and should remain strong for the foreseeable future. That being said, what exactly is criminology?
Like criminology careers, the term criminology itself is broad and expansive.
- Basically, it refers to the study of crime, criminals, causes of crime, ways of deterring crime, the best ways to prevent and punish crime, apprehending criminals, punishing criminals, handling former prisoners, and so on.
As you can see, this list, which is far from exhaustive, covers a wide variety of jobs and careers. Many college professors, for example, specialize in one or more of these subjects, but most people would not consider a college professor to be involved in criminology. They are, though, and so are a great many other occupations, such as district attorneys. Dealing with crime in today's society truly requires a multifaceted approach.
Of course, when most people think of criminology careers, the first occupations they think of are police officers, sheriff's deputies, and other local law enforcement personnel. This is understandable, as these men and women are in the branch of criminology that's on the front lines of dealing with criminals at large, and ordinary citizens encounter them quite often. Another occupation that more and more people are becoming familiar with is forensic scientist. Not long ago, most people would not have recognized this job title, but thanks to the popularity of shows such as Law & Order and NCIS, these public servants are much better known, even if their day-to-day jobs are highly glamorized on TV.
- Many social workers are also involved in criminology, which many people don't realize.
- Probations and parole officers are two other occupations that fill vital roles in society's war on crime, along with jail and prison guards are also criminologists in their own ways, doing what many believe to be one of the most difficult and thankless jobs in America.
- Border patrol agents, too, fight crime at our nation's borders, striving to keep out both illegal aliens and potential terrorists.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of criminology careers, and on this site, you'll be able to get all the information you need to decide if one is right for you.
Advantages of Criminology Careers
Every person has his or her own special reasons for finding criminology careers so appealing, but there are some common themes that you hear again and again when you start asking people what first got them interested in a criminology career—why they chose their jobs, what they love most about their jobs, or what aspects of their jobs give them the most pride and satisfaction. Sure, from time to time, you'll run into the odd person who drifted into it for lack of anything better to do or the controlling person who enjoys having power over others, but these types are extremely rare. There are a lot of great things about criminology careers, and that's why most people choose them. Let's discuss some of the best advantages.
- First off, it's the path not taken, an occupation shunned by most people. It's not your average, ordinary job. Many people are happy working regular, ordinary jobs, but some aren't. They want something more, and many of these folks gravitate to criminology careers. In most jobs, one day is pretty much like every other day, but not in criminology, where every day is a new adventure.
- Another benefit of a criminology career, often cited as one of the best things about it, is knowing that you're making a real difference in people's lives. Without law enforcement officers and prison guards, criminals would run riot, destroying civility in America. The sacrifices of the men and women who take these jobs are what keep America a safe, civilized place.
- Helping criminals stay on the straight and narrow path after they're released is another important function, and parole and probation officers fill this need. Every person involved in criminology, no matter their role, has earned the heartfelt thanks of hundreds of millions of American citizens whose lives are better for their efforts.
- The education a person receives on their way to becoming a criminology professor is an often overlooked benefit of these jobs, and it's a very rich and rewarding one. Few people understand all the vagaries of the human condition as well as people who've completed a course of study in criminology. They learn what makes people tick, why some people would never hurt a fly, while others are capable of killing their own mothers. They've peered into the dark depths of the worst that humanity has to offer, but they've retained their belief in the essential decency of most human beings. For that, they're not only better persons, but they often make better friends, spouses, and parents for this very reason.
Disadvantages of Criminology Careers
Any discussion of criminology jobs would be incomplete without talking about the downsides of choosing one of these occupations. Every job or career has advantages and disadvantages, and when making plans for your life, it's important to look at both sides of the equation. It's easy to look at your hopes and dreams through rose-colored glasses, but this temptation must be avoided, and everyone should face the cold, hard reality of what they're looking at when they commit themselves to criminology careers. Don't get the wrong idea; criminology careers have a lot of factors in their favor, and we're not trying to talk anyone out of pursuing one. We just want to make sure everyone has a clear idea of what such jobs entail.
- One of the first negative aspects that must be acknowledged is that criminology careers are not known for their high pay. It's a shame that such important roles aren't compensated more generously, but facts are facts. This isn't to imply that a person can't survive on the income of a probation officer or border patrol agent but only to stress that going into criminology is unlikely to lead to a high income. What's worse is that many people working in the field of criminology work for local and state governments, and in this age of austerity, budgets are being cut, and even the viability of pensions is being questioned.
- Another drawback is that the job can be both mentally and emotionally draining. Going to war on crime and the culture that produces it is not a task for the squeamish. Mentally, it can be wearisome to deal with criminals and ex-cons who tend not to be very high on the IQ scale. Dealing with these people day in and day out, and trying to relate to them and reach them, can be daunting. Emotionally, it's quite difficult to embark on a task which we all know can never really be accomplished. It may be possible to reduce crime, but we will never eliminate it. And, when it happens on your watch, it can be difficult to separate yourself from it, and it can be easy to view yourself as having failed.
- For some criminology careers, putting your life at risk is one of the disadvantages that must be faced. Every year, police officers, sheriff's deputies, FBI agents, and other law enforcement personnel die in the line of duty, either accidentally or at the hands of a criminal. Statistically, this is a rare occurrence, but it's very real, and it's something to consider. Again, we want to stress that criminology careers are fulfilling and rewarding, and many criminology professionals wouldn't switch jobs with anyone. However, no one should go into the field without frankly considering the disadvantages.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013