Social Worker Careers in Criminology

For a lot of people, hearing the phrase criminology careers doesn't bring the occupation of social worker to mind. Most people have a very truncated view of just what constitutes criminology, and social workers don't fit into that view. They're seen as people who work in child welfare departments or in health and human services agencies. This view is wrong, however. Social workers play critical roles in criminology.

Their work is vitally important when it comes to seeking justice for victims of crime, steering juveniles away from lives of crime, working with dysfunctional families to create stable home environments and prevent at-risk youth from turning to crime, and keeping former prisoners from returning to incarceration. Actually, those are just some of the main functions of social workers in criminology; it would take an entire book to describe them all.

Social workers who are employed in some capacity in the field of criminology will usually need to possess a master's degree, and the title of licensed clinical social worker. There may be some instances in which a person with a bachelor's degree can gain an entry-level job or be hired on a probationary status contingent upon completing a master's, but those are the exceptions. Social workers must be tough, fair, compassionate, insightful, patient, and have very thick skins.

If you go into this line of work, you will certainly have some successful client outcomes, but you will see many, many disappointments. These can be difficult to deal with emotionally if you're not prepared for this simple fact of life in criminology.

The rewards of a career in criminology as a licensed clinical social worker are profound, but they don't include especially high pay. As of this writing, the median income for licensed clinical social workers is approximately $50,000. That means that half of all social workers make less than $50,000, while half make more. Top pay is around $65,000, depending on location and experience and seniority. Some social workers make about $40,000.

While these are not the highest paying occupations in America, the pay scale is still well above average and can provide a person with a good living. On the upside, federal labor experts predict that criminology will be one of the strongest areas of growth in the job market for the next few decades. So, not only will demand for social workers remain strong, but there's a good chance that salaries will rise to meet it.

Last Updated: 06/03/2014

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