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Beyond the Badge: The Many Paths of a Career as a Criminologist


Do you find it challenging to judge people based on their actions? Do you wonder if there could be something more than the person’s actions are telling? Maybe a challenging past? Had a past full of a bad and abusive relationships? Do you believe that criminals are made and not born? Do you also find it interesting to study a criminal’s mind and why they did what they did? Have you wondered why a normal person committed a crime without having any criminal record? Do you want to make a career in reading criminal minds and finding the whys and hows of their actions? Do you want to make a career by studying and analyzing the psyche and behavior of criminals? Then, find out more.

Criminologists study and analyze crime and criminal behavior. They explore various sociological, psychological, economic, and other reasons behind criminal activities. They analyze the background of criminals to understand what might have led them to commit the crime. They interact with and interview criminals. They offer counseling and advice to criminals. Criminologists often plan various programs to modify criminal behavior to help criminals go back to mainstream life. Criminologists contribute a lot to police forces and Government administration to reduce crime rates in a locality, region, or in community.

Why become a Criminologist?

A criminologist is someone who studies and understands the psyche and behavior of those involved in criminal activities. They work and research extensively in the field of Criminology, which is the systematic study of the nature, extent, causes, consequences, and rehabilitation of criminal behavior. The study attempts to look closely into what makes someone commit a crime and the consequences after the crime is committed. For example: As a criminologist, you would accumulate both quantitative (statistics of crime rates) and qualitative (profiling offenders and examining criminal behavior) information and then use the end results of your research to develop theories about how crime can be prevented and how new methods of rehabilitation can be formulated for criminals. These research findings help develop an understanding of human behavior and to use the outcome to study, predict and prevent criminal activities. 

As a Criminologist, you will be conducting extensive research on crimes and why they occur for an instance: You will be involved in profiling the criminals, studying their behavior, mental and emotional disposition, social position, education, personal life, and other important aspects of the life of the criminals to obtain the reasons of criminal behavior. Your responsibility as a criminologist would also include conducting thorough research and cultivating theories on why people commit crimes and the risks that accompanied them. 

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What does a Criminologist do?

  • As a Criminologist, you would be interacting with offenders to assist them in gaining insight, defining goals, and planning action to achieve effective personal, social, educational, or vocational development and adjustment.
  • As a Criminologist you would be identifying psychological, emotional, or behavioral issues and diagnosing disorders, using information obtained from interviews, tests, records, or reference materials.
  • As a Criminologist you would counsel individuals regarding problems, such as stress, substance abuse, or family situations, to modify behavior or to improve personal, social, or vocational adjustment.
  • As a Criminologist, you would obtain and study medical, psychological, social, and family histories by interviewing those involved in criminal activities, correctional institutions, or prisons. 
  • As a Criminologist, you would also select, administer, score, and interpret assessments to obtain information on individuals’ emotional and mental states to examine chances of prevention of crime in the future.
  • As a Criminologist, you would also identify case issues and evidence that would be needed, based on analysis of charges, complaints, or allegations of law violations.

How to become a criminologist – eligibility criteria 

After completing Class 10 all subjects as per the scheme of studies and Class 11-12 Science along with any other subject as per the scheme of studies,  you can go for either a B.Sc. in Forensic Sciences and Criminology or B.A. in Psychology / Sociology/ Social Work/ Social Sciences/ Criminal Justice/ Criminology. After acquiring a graduate degree you can take up a Master’s degree in Criminology. After having acquired a master’s degree in criminology you can further pursue an M.Phil. Followed by a Ph.D. in Criminology and Forensic Science. You can also go for a degree in Law with a specialization in Criminology. You can also go for Diploma or certificate courses in Forensics and Criminal law after your graduation in law. You can also pursue your master’s in Law with criminology as your discipline or a postgraduate degree in Forensic sciences and Criminology.

Educational Fees

The cost of becoming a criminologist in India can vary depending on several factors such as the level of education, type of institution, and location. Here are some estimated costs:

  1. Bachelor’s degree: The cost of a bachelor’s degree in criminology can range from INR 50,000 to INR 2,00,000 per year depending on the institution and location.
  2. Master’s degree: The cost of a master’s degree in criminology can range from INR 50,000 to INR 3,00,000 per year depending on the institution and location.
  3. Ph.D.: The cost of a Ph.D. in criminology can range from INR 30,000 to INR 3,00,000 per year depending on the institution and location.

Additional costs to consider may include textbooks, course materials, transportation, and accommodation.

Job opportunities

After having completed the necessary education requirements, you can get job opportunities in: 

  • Courts, 
  • Law Firms
  • Investigation agencies 
  • NGOs 
  • Government agencies 
  • Colleges and universities

As a criminologist, you can work and assist the police force in profiling offenders and obtaining the basis on which the crime is committed. As a criminologist you can work in correctional facilities like Prisons and juvenile homes you would conduct behavior analysis and investigate the intricacies of the act, leading investigation and background checks of the criminal by working with inmates. You can find lucrative options in academics and research institutions in areas involved in crimes, criminal justice, prevention of crime, criminal behavior, etc. You may also find work on a project-to-project basis. You may also find great opportunities as a professor in universities. 

Salary of a Criminologist 

At the beginning of your career as a Project Associate/ Research Fellow, you may look forward to earning about Rs. 22,000-38,000 a month.

If you join a University Department or after having 4-5 years of experience, you may earn about Rs. 40,000-60,000 a month or even more.

In mid-level jobs (after 8-12 years of experience), you may earn about Rs. 30,000 – 1,40,000 or more per month.

In senior-level jobs (after 15-20 years of experience), you may earn about Rs. 50,000 – 2,25,000 or more per month.

Career progression in the Criminology profession

Criminologists, in India, can get into:

  1. Universities as a Research Fellow (After Master’s, as a Doctoral Research Fellow) or as a Research Associate
  2. After my Master’s through the NET exam, first Junior Research Fellow and then Senior Research Fellow
  3. After Ph.D., as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
  4. After Ph.D., in Universities as an Assistant Professor – then Associate Professor – then Professor
  5. NGOs working in Criminal Justice as an Associate after their Master’s or as a Consultant after their Ph.D. – after initial years, an Associate becomes a Senior Associate and then a Project Coordinator/Manager. Then a Senior Project Manager. A Consultant becomes a Senior Consultant. And then a Vice President or similar position.
  6. With Police departments, on a contractual work basis – for working at the correctional homes (or prisons). There is no career progress in contractual work.

A career in this field has bright future prospects. According to statistics, career opportunities for sociologists, and criminologists are expected to increase by 15% by the year 2022. This would mean that there would be a growing demand for Criminologists not only as researchers in governmental agencies but also as private company officials. Although this particular field of study still needs to be developed further so as to bring more opportunities in Indian markets, correctional institutions like Tihar jail and many others in India have started accepting prospective student researchers to conduct studies of inmates and their activities. You can expect more career opportunities as a criminologist with the implementation of such initiatives. 

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