The job of a criminal profiler falls somewhere between the fields of law enforcement and psychology, often depicted in popular television shows and Hollywood movies. Also known as: "criminal investigative analysis" to "crime action profiling" and "investigative psychology," the job entails using the research and analytical skills relevant to the psychological sciences to better comprehend criminal behavior. When you earn your degree in criminal justice, you can open up more doors of opportunity and go further in your career. Use this site to find out more about careers in the field of criminal justice, and to contact the schools with programs that interest you. Whether you want to search by level of degree, location of school, or by career type, CriminalJusticePrograms.com is your place to start moving ahead.
Criminal Profiler Job Description
Essentially, the criminal profiler's job is to create a psychological profile of a criminal suspect, which can then be used to help catch the suspect. This is done by examining evidence from the crime, interviewing witnesses and victims, and analyzing crime scenes. Information gleaned from these investigations can then be used to help the profiler determine a pattern of criminal behavior, which hopefully can be used to find out more about the suspect (and potentially help to catch him or her). Aside from developing profiles of real-world criminals, criminal profilers may also conduct research and write reports on patterns of criminal behavior by going through old case studies and interviewing convicted criminals.
Criminal profilers with doctoral degrees may also work in academia, teaching and publishing about their work. Criminal profilers may also be called upon to testify as expert witnesses in court proceedings.
Criminal Profiler Requirements
Successful criminal profilers must possess excellent analytical and critical thinking abilities, good communication skills, and the ability to effectively analyze scientific and statistical data. Degree requirements for criminal profiling are not specifically outlined, in part because it's such a small field and there are a very limited number of degrees specific to only criminal profiling. Your best bet is to get a dual degree in psychology and criminal justice, and to then gain job experience working in law enforcement, ideally as an investigator. A master's degree in forensic psychology or the behavioral sciences can also help advance your career. Some law enforcement agencies, including the FBI's behavioral sciences unit, also provide training specific to the field, however these programs usually require you to already have advanced qualifications and job experience.
Criminal Profiler Career Outlook
Most criminal profiling jobs are at the state or federal level although a criminal profiler may also find employment as an independent consultant, or at colleges or universities. Since positions are so limited, criminal profiling is an extremely tough field to break into. The most prominent employer of profiler-type professionals is probably the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which first started systematically using criminal behavior analysts in the 1970s and continues to run a behavioral sciences unit. Other potential employers may include the Central Intelligence Agency, Department of Homeland Security and international law enforcement organizations like Interpol.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of detectives and criminal investigators in the US is $65,860, while the mean annual wage of psychologists is $84,220 and that of psychology educators at the post-secondary level is $72,140. These are probably good ballpark figures for what a criminal profiler might earn, although this number will vary based on the level of employment and experience.
Criminal Profiler Trends
Since its debut, criminal profiling has been met with skepticism as to how useful it is to the actual apprehension of criminals. Even so, most people agree that psychology-based criminal behavior analysis can at the least give us intriguing insights into the development and workings of a criminal mind. Criminal profiler job opportunities remain extremely limited and those interested in the field are increasingly likely to develop skills that permit them to work in other law enforcement jobs, notably criminal investigation and crime scene analysis. In order to score a high-profile job, like those offered by the FBI, prior law enforcement experience is a must. Those who don't want to give up on the dream of a criminal profiler career are therefore well-advised to get their start by pursuing a job in criminal investigation or crime scene analysis.