Essential Criminologist Skills (And How To Improve Them)
Updated 30 September 2022
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A criminologist analyses crime data to influence public policy and understanding. If you are interested in helping prevent crime through research and analysis, it is essential to develop some important hard and soft skills to succeed. Understanding which skills this position requires can allow you to prepare for a successful, impactful career in criminology. In this article, we describe and list criminologist skills and offer steps to inculcate these skills to help you achieve success in criminology.
What Are Criminologist Skills?
Criminologist skills are the qualities and competencies necessary to understand why criminals commit crimes and help to prevent them from happening again. Experts in this field work with offenders not only to determine their motives but also to study the impact of their actions. Getting a degree in psychology, sociology, criminology or forensic science can help you gain the skills necessary to excel in this field. Positions in criminology can be complex and varied, meaning that recruiters demand a wide range of competencies.
Essential Criminologist Skills
The following skills can help to have a successful career as a criminologist:
Attention to detail
The primary duty of a criminologist is to study and analyse large volumes of data on criminal behaviour. As an expert in criminology, you may be required to conduct enormous research and go through volumes of data and statistics to identify criminal patterns. To understand criminal motivations better, it is important to be detail-oriented and observe various human behaviours or actions well. These professionals also require observing and studying criminal behaviour to draw conclusions, making careful observation along with effective analytical skills helpful for them.
For example, while working on a case, you find a key detail that can vindicate a wrong suspect and change the investigation perspective.
Technology is a requisite in many vocations, including criminology. It is important that criminologists are proficient in computers, computer programmes and basic software systems. They may be required to work with robotic cameras, DNA testing and other complex technologies. They also use computers to create elaborate reports of their findings. Though the requirement for technical knowledge may vary, basic computer competency is an important requirement for this career. For instance, it is important that criminal science experts know how to use facial recognition software to detect a victim's identity or search criminal databases using similar information.
Research is a prerequisite to advance toward a career in criminology. When you are trying to gather evidence about a suspect or criminal, it is important to perform thorough research to support your claims and substantiate your findings. It is essential to understand how to gather, scrutinise and document evidence. You may conduct occasional interviews to draw conclusions for specific cases and investigations. Documenting the findings and researching to link them with the investigation is an essential skill in this field.
Read more: A Guide To Forensic Science Careers (With Salary Information)
Integrity and ethics
An important requirement in criminology is a solid understanding of work ethics. This means ensuring work information confidentiality for sensitive data that can affect lives, such as criminal record information. Another key requirement is the ability to work objectively in emotional situations involving crime or human psychology. To understand the levels of dedication and ethics required in this field, you may also take additional training or education elaborating the ethical concerns associated with the role.
As a criminologist, you may also require developing and sharing written and verbal insights about cases and projects with colleagues. Communication may range from sharing data, observations or other necessary information. For example, you may communicate with police officers and update them about their findings. You might also draft reports, ask questions or work with team members during a brainstorming session or simply share knowledge. You can also leverage your communication skills to prepare drafts that can serve investigation purposes or public policies.
Related: Communication Skills: Definitions And Examples
You may work with people ranging from criminals to law enforcement officers and victims. Having good people skills can also help to gain psychological insight into criminal behaviour. The ability to understand people's behaviour can help you listen, collaborate and offer guidance. For example, a suspect's speech pattern or body language can guide you in deciphering whether the person is lying about their actions.
Criminology experts work with a large amount of data and a wide variety of people on multiple projects. To maintain and prioritise this information, they require strong organisational skills. This may involve creating databases or systems to manage personal information, crime statistics and other relevant data. For example, when there is plenty of data on a case, you may colour-code information depending on its importance.
Working collaboratively with different groups and sometimes across departments is another important skill in this field. Interacting with people also helps to build knowledge of a project. For example, working in a crime scene may require collaborating with researchers in the laboratory to find out information about a victim's blood and DNA samples.
A major part of a criminologist's job includes reading statistics, reports and other important data to solve cases. Thinking critically while scanning and scrutinising the data can help to solve complicated problems. Professionals may also utilise their analyses to develop potential solutions to study crime rates, the effect of criminal activities and other incomplete criminal data.
As an expert in criminology, you will work with lab experts, police and other administrative officers. Collaborating with law enforcement and government agencies can lead to delays and paperwork and therefore requires persistence and determination. Tasks like investigating offenders, coordinating with laboratory technicians and drafting reports take time. It is important to be level-headed and wait patiently at every step.
Physical and mental acumen
Criminology experts attend crime scenes, observe and analyse criminal records and go through crime imagery for long hours to solve complex problems. They conduct research, publish scientific study, provide resources to clients and advice governments or law agencies. Sometimes, they also decide on the right course of action or determine the next steps for conflict resolution or prevention of escalation. Physical and mental stamina is an important requirement to perform these responsibilities effectively.
How to improve criminology skills
Here are 5 steps you can take to improve your criminology skills:
1. Seek education
A bachelor's degree is one of the key requirements in criminology. Some experts in the field also have a master's or doctorate degree. During your educational program, you may learn about fields like psychology or sociology and also develop the skills to succeed in criminology. Pursuing a relevant education may prepare you to have a successful criminology career.
2. Complete internships
While pursuing your degree in criminology, undertaking one or more internships can help to develop relevant skills. It also helps to decide which role may suit you best. During your internship, you might assist criminology or law enforcement professionals both on and off the field. This not only adds value to your resume but also helps to develop skills that can assist you in your career.
Related: What Are Internships And How Do You Find One?
3. Join professional associations
You may also want to consider enhancing or inculcating skills by joining various professional associations. Criminology associations may provide opportunities for you to network, share insights or continue education. By interacting with various professionals in criminology, you may learn skills you can apply to your position.
4. Study literature from the field
If you want to stay updated and learn about relevant advancements in your field, a useful practice is to read research and other publications. By doing this, you may learn strategies or ideas for developing new skills or enhancing your current skills. Learning about new technology, processes and insights from colleagues and industry leaders may allow you to advance your professional knowledge and subsequently improve your efficiency.
5. Continue your education
You might continue your skill development through relevant training and education. As new technology or information becomes integrated into your field, training held online or through local colleges or professional associations may allow you to develop new skills or competencies. It is also possible that you can apply these new competencies to current roles or responsibilities.
Related: How To Become A Criminologist (Skills, Advantages And Careers)
How much do criminologists earn?
The national average salary for a criminologist is ₹3,50,000 a year. This depends on educational qualifications, year of experience and location. For instance, an individual with a PhD in criminology working in a metropolitan city may earn twice as much as someone who works in a tier-two city and has a bachelor's in criminology. You can increase your salary by getting another relevant degree or a few years' experience to impress hiring managers.
Salary figures reflect data on the quoted websites at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, background and location.
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