If you love TV crime shows, like detective novels or enjoy discovering how the human mind works, especially that of criminals, then a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Criminology is a great option for you. But is Criminology still worth studying in 2021?
And what are the main reasons to study Criminology? Let’s find out!
1. You can study one of the Criminology subdisciplines
Criminology itself is a broad field of study, but students can choose from a couple of different branches:
- Criminalistics or Forensic Criminology – Deals with collecting samples from crime sites, studying fingerprints, DNA evidence, and so on.
- Victimology or Victim Studies – Deals with the impact of crimes on victims and the roles played by victims before or during criminal actions
Another closely related discipline is Criminal Justice; however, it studies the way criminal justice systems work — police, tribunals, courts, prisons — without focusing on why crimes happen or on their impact.
Nevertheless, it overlaps with punishment and correction, which are essential areas of study for criminologists.
2. Criminologists have exciting and well-paid jobs
Trying to understand criminals and why they end up committing acts we find violent, immoral, or shocking is anything but boring. This type of work often demands that criminologists hold knowledge from other areas, like Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, and Biology.
A criminologist with great research skills can often act as a public policy consultant or expert, helping government and local authorities to adopt laws that prevent future crimes and protect innocent citizens.
“Cool, Captain Wikipedia. But why share all this?” We’re sharing this to help you understand how much of an impact you can have as a future Criminology graduate. While most criminologists remain neutral, some choose to advocate against the death penalty, for example. So, you can literally have an impact on people’s lives.
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most popular Criminology jobs. We’ve also included the average salaries in the US based on data from PayScale:
- Public Policy Analyst – 59,300 USD/year
- Detective – 66,300 USD/year
- Social Worker – 48,600 USD/year
- Probation Officer – 44,400 USD/year
- Forensic Psychologist – 72,370 USD/year
3. Improve the safety and wellbeing of your community
As a criminologist, you can play an important role in the reduction of criminal activities in your local community. You won’t be able to achieve this alone, though, because Criminology is interdisciplinary. Your work will involve collaborating with the police and law departments and sometimes even social work organisations and other government agencies.
That’s because to stop crimes you first need to understand why they occur. For example, if poverty is the main reason behind thefts and robberies in your town, putting criminals in jail won’t solve the situation in the long run.
Together with other experts, you need to reduce the levels of poverty and help people to get access to important human needs (e.g. food, shelter, health, security, education). It’s a lot easier said than done, but if enough people like you are involved and if you can see the bigger picture, it is very much possible.
4. Understand and share the other side of crime and criminals
When thinking about crimes and criminals, most people have a (negative) emotional reaction. And it’s understandable because those who break the law can cause immense damage and loss to other community members.
However, this is only one way of looking at things. In truth, “it’s hard to light a candle, easy to curse the dark instead”. Lawbreakers have their reasons for doing what they do. Maybe they had toxic or abusive families, maybe they were bullied, maybe they were marginalised by society — it could be any number of things.
And while these factors aren’t excuses and don’t justify in any way their actions, they do help us to get deeper insights into a criminal’s mind and see their side of the story. And the people who contribute the most to the discovery of these insights are, you’ve guessed it, criminologists.
5. Crime and criminology are constantly evolving
One of the most exciting aspects of studying Criminology is the ongoing development in this area. Crime exists all over the world, and as technologies and modern societies evolve, so do the tools and methods used by criminals.
For instance, thanks to modern forensic technology and approaches, some old verdicts have been overturned and people who were wrongly accused in the past have been set free.
Another good example of development in this area is that 20 or 30 years ago there were no such things as cybercrime, data breaches, online identity thefts, online scams, and so on. And yet, nowadays, online crimes are just as dangerous if not more dangerous than traditional infractions because:
- we are all connected online, and we share details about our personal lives
- important infrastructures systems depend on computers
- we order products and make payments online
Criminologists are now responsible for understanding this relatively new type of criminals and discovering ways to decrease crimes that take place in the virtual world.