Top 10 Careers for Anyone Interested in Criminology

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Criminology is the scientific study of different aspects of crime and delinquency and what makes them happen. It looks at causes, correction and prevention from a variety of viewpoints such as biology, psychology, psychiatry, economics, sociology, statistics, and anthropology. The field of criminology incorporates and examines much broader issues than criminal actions and society’s response to them. If you enjoy reading crime novels, TV series and movies, it’s probably the criminological side of them that you enjoy most of all!

A criminologist tries to understand why certain people are more or less likely to engage in criminal or delinquent behaviour. They also look at how crime rates and the penal code differ between societies and how they change. Criminology is actually a branch of sociology, a science that specialises in group behaviour.

Where Would a Criminologist Work?

A criminologist usually works in a college or university, organising and conducting research, teaching classes on a variety of subjects including law enforcement administration, drug abuse and addiction, criminal ethnography, juvenile justice, theoretical criminology, and other related subjects. If this sounds like something you’d love and you’re interested in pursuing a career in criminology or earning a qualification by taking criminology courses at Wilfrid Laurier University, you might find yourself in one of the following career paths:

  • Police Officer

A job in the police force is going to suit a person looking for a challenging but rewarding career assisting and protecting their local community. Working in partnership with your local community you’d be responsible for maintaining law and order, protecting members of the public and their property, preventing crime and reducing the fear of crime, as well as changing and improving the quality of life for all citizens. When you lay it out like that, you realise what a responsible career it would be.

To help you do your job to the best of your ability, you’ll use a range of technology to protect individuals, identify perpetrators of crime and ensure prosecutions are successful against people who break the law. Duties you might be called on to perform include liaising with community groups, conducting patrol duties on foot, by car or bicycle, responding to calls from the public, diffusing volatile situations, delivering news of a sudden death, conducting investigations, interviewing suspects and much more.

  • Prison Officer

This is a career for someone who enjoys a challenge, is able to remain calm under pressure and are committed to help people make better choices with their lives. Your responsibilities would include the security, supervision, training and rehabilitation of prisoners. The role requires an expert ability to think on your feet, make quick decisions, deal effectively with unexpected situations, be understanding and compassionate.

As a prison officer, you may find yourself supervising, managing and controlling prisoners, performing security checks, supervising visits, escorting prisoners on external visits, dealing with incidents, employing authorised physical control and restraint procedures, providing appropriate care and support, promoting anti-bullying and suicide prevention policies and much more. The work can be very challenging, meaning a flexible approach is required.

  • Social Worker

If you’re a caring and patient person who would enjoy supporting individuals and families through difficult times, you should consider a career as a social worker. A social worker is responsible for ensuring vulnerable people, both children and adults, are safeguarded from harm. The ultimate aim of this particular role is to help improve outcomes in people’s lives. You may be called on to make some very tough decisions from time to time, many of which will not be well received by those you’re trying to help.

A social worker can be found working in a variety of settings such as hospitals, schools (both primary and high school) or on the premises of other public sector and voluntary organisations. It is usual for a social worker to specialise in either supporting children and families or vulnerable adults.

This role is a very challenging one, and occasionally, you may find yourself on the receiving end of negative media attention. As well as working with young people and their families, you might also work with the elderly, people with learning and physical disabilities, young offenders, drug and alcohol abusers, and the homeless.

  • Youth Worker

Would you like to make a difference in the lives of young people? A youth worker may be the right career for you. You’ll be involved in guiding and supporting young people in their personal, social and educational development, helping them reach their full potential in society. The people you’d be working with would be between the ages of 11 and 25, in a variety of settings. These might include youth centers, schools, colleges, or faith-based groups.

Your responsibilities would include assessing the needs of young people, planning and delivering programs relating to health, fitness, smoking, drugs, violence, gangs, relationships and bullying. You could also find yourself running arts-based activities, community projects, residential activities, outdoor education and sporting activities.

  • Forensic Computer Analyst

A forensic computer analyst investigates data breaches, security incidents and criminal activity. You would work for either the police, another law enforcement agency, or a specialist computer forensic company or investigative team. If you have excellent analytical skills, you’d be able to put them to good use tracing the steps of cybercrime.

  • Paralegal

A paralegal is a law professional that works in a supporting role to solicitors and barristers. Essential abilities include being able to multitask. You also need to be interested in developing your understanding of the law. You could find yourself working in a variety of law firms, chambers, and the private and public sectors, as well as not-for-profit organisations. There are different types of paralegal work you might specialise in including advocacy, crime, employment, family, litigation, personal injury or wills, probates, and administration of estates.

Your duties might include office administration, organising diaries and scheduling meetings, analysing and inputting data, organising case files, networking with clients, and writing reports.

  • Probation Officer

A probation officer manages offenders in order to protect the public and reduce the incidence of re-offending. It’s a very challenging role that requires an ability to think on your feet. You also need to be interested in helping people make better choices with their lives. You might find yourself working with offenders in courts, in the community, and in custody.

Tasks vary depending on whether you work for the National Probation Service or part of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service. They might include managing high-risk offenders, providing pre-sentence reports, collaborating with other agencies in the criminal justice system, carrying out risk assessments, and managing and enforcing community orders made by the courts.

  • Community Development Worker

A community development worker helps communities to bring about social change and improve the quality of life in their local area. Working with families, individuals, or whole communities, you’ll be identifying their needs, developing activities and services to generate aspiration and confidence.

You would act as the link between communities and many other local authority and voluntary sector providers, such as social workers, teachers and the police. Much of your work would be project based, which means you’ll have a geographical local or social group to focus on.

  • Adult Guidance Worker

To be an effective adult guidance worker, you’ll need to be assertive, patient and be a good listener. This type of career may involve working as part of a team in a large organisation or as a sole operator in a voluntary group. Your job would be to encourage people to think about their career, learning and training opportunities. By explaining people’s options, you’ll be helping them make informed choices about their futures.

An adult guidance worker is often called on to help when people are experiencing times of transition such as redundancy, health issues, or a need to change career. Work may also focus on hard to reach or marginalised groups of people, including the unemployed, disabled, adults with health and social needs or learning difficulties.

  • Charity Officer

If you have a passion for helping others, working as a charity officer might be the perfect fit. You’d work for a charitable or non-profit organisation. If you work in a large organisation, your role may require you to focus on a specific area such as finance, marketing, public relations, fundraising, or volunteer management. In a smaller organisation, your remit would be much broader.

Your responsibilities might include carrying out marketing and public relations activities, designing fundraising materials, creating and organising fundraising initiatives, approaching potential donors, liaising with external agencies recruiting and coordinating volunteers, carrying out administrative tasks and much more. Work tends to be office based, but you might find yourself traveling to meet service users, delivering off-site service provision, or attending promotional events and campaigns.

As you can now appreciate, there are many opportunities for anyone interested in criminology. Yes, some of them involve catching and punishing the bad guys, but the majority are all about helping people turn their lives around for the betterment of themselves and society.

If you’re interested in one of these careers, employers will value experience just as much as the right qualification, so spend some time looking for paid and voluntary opportunities to improve your chances of getting the right job.


Image Credits: Bill Oxford

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