How to become a criminologist

Draw on elements of psychology, law, sociology, politics and human services to analyse the thoughts and behaviours of everybody from first-time criminals to repeat offenders.

Pathways to this career

Steps towards your criminologist career

  1. Study a related criminal psychology course, like criminology, criminal justice, justice studies, legal studies or psychology.
  2. Once you’ve settled on your career trajectory, complete a postgraduate degree in criminology.
  3. Undergo the relevant police and working with children checks to work in the industry.
  4. Join recognised institutions like the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) to connect with other professionals within your field.
  5. Not sure if you want to pursue postgraduate study? Get some relevant work experience in a related profession first. Investigate clinical social work, corrections and policing! 

What does a criminologist do?

Criminologists focus on the big picture causes of crime, identifying patterns and trends. While related to criminal psychology, criminology is not concerned with the personal experiences and feelings of people, but the greater implications of their actions. Criminologists work with governing bodies to predict and prevent further issues down the line.

If you’re into data and predictive analysis, criminology may be for you. Criminology undergraduates can also work as consultants, social workers, probation officers and in other legal roles.

Duties and tasks

Criminologist job description

  • Understand the inner workings of legal courts, police services, prisons and correction centres
  • Develop crime prevention strategies and policies
  • Analyse, interpret and catalogue data based on the incidence of crime and response from the justice system
  • Monitor new and emerging trends in crime, offending and antisocial behaviour
  • Compile easily accessible crime statistics and crime-solving resources
  • Research criminological issues pertaining to offenders, victims and sentencing

Industry bodies

Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC)

Established in 1967, The Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology is devoted to the promotion of criminological study, research, and practice, helping to connect professionals in the field across Australia and New Zealand.

Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC)

The Australian Institute of Criminology is a federal government agency that operates as the national research and knowledge centre on crime and justice.

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC)

The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) collaborates with law enforcement partners to improve the national ability to respond to crimes that impact Australia.

Related jobs

Typical criminologist jobs include:

Discover related degrees

Undergraduate ECU-CRJ-DEG

Bachelor of Criminology and Justice

Undergraduate UNE-CRM-DEG

Bachelor of Criminology

Available majors

  • Criminal Justice Major
  • Justice and Indigenous People Major
  • Justice Politics and Society Major
  • Policing and Corrections Major

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