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What is Criminology?
Criminology is the study of crime, its causes, prevention, and resolution and is considered a branch of sociology. The field of criminology combines research and theory and applies it to the real world dynamics that encapsulate crime. This involves understanding behavioral analyses, biological factors, and social/environmental conditions. The use of criminology is particularly felt in the development of laws, rules and treatments on how to avoid the development of criminal behavior, how to manage existing criminals, and how to offer reform opportunities. Criminologists study very specific behavior, social structure and activity, and as a branch of sociology utilizes many of the same methods for gathering data and conducting research.
A student pursuing a degree in criminology will learn about the criminal justice system, psychological and sociological motivations of crime, and study anthropological evidence regarding behavior and interaction. Criminology differentiates itself from criminal justice by focusing on the motivations for criminal behavior and how to resolve associated problems by utilizing rehabilitative methods and preventive policies; whereas criminal justice focuses on understanding the institutions that employ those policies.
An education in criminology requires an extensive understanding of social behavior, specifically with a focus on aberrant and criminal tendencies, what constitutes those tendencies, and the developmental and cultural issues that may lead to such tendencies. As a field of study, criminology is complex; as it requires the weaving of multiple disciplines of study in order to accurately and effectively understand the factors and ideas proposed by the field. Students in search of criminology programs may wish to pursue those programs offered at institutions with active research in the field.
Courses you may be offered as criminology major include:
- Cultural Anthropology
- Community and Crime
- Sociology of Law
- Social Deviance
- Justice Systems
- Juvenile Delinquency
Criminologists may be employed as researchers, policy advisors, law enforcement agents, and teachers. The role of the criminologist is to identify criminal tendencies and trends and use that knowledge to prevent crime, either through direct action (i.e. law enforcement) or policy implementation. Research positions are often found with government agencies or private firms, conducting research and studies in order to better understand the behavior of criminals and positing suggestions that may or may not be applied in order to curb criminal tendencies. Individuals in law enforcement may utilize methods and ideas gleaned from an education in criminology to implement better methodologies for identifying and dealing with crime. This is often done at the higher level, and in conjunction with findings and reports as issued by law enforcement agencies.
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
There is expected to be a steady rise in demand for sociologists, including criminologists, over the next 10 years. This is due to the increased interest in curbing crime through proper analyses and implementing more effective measures by which to keep the public safe. Individuals entering into a career in criminology will have to demonstrate a variety of skills, such as analytics, writing, logic, statistics and others. Individuals interested in entering the field will most likely have to earn work experience through internships and low level research positions in order to build the experience necessary to move to the forefront of the field. Individuals in law enforcement will find that a degree in criminology is useful in finding promotion opportunities and working in areas of law enforcement typically closed off to the average officer.
The average wage for a criminologist is approximately $68,000 per year; those just entering the field will average about $30,000 dollars per year. Though it is possible to obtain work with a associate's or bachelor's in criminology, opportunities and wages increase for those who pursue higher level degrees.