Were you fascinated by the characters from movie series like ‘True Detective’, ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’, or ‘Sherlock Holmes’, who played the detective or investigator role? Do you want to be just like them in real life? All you have to do is choose a degree in Criminal Law or Criminology, and you’ll be one of the people who play a major role in solving, understanding and preventing crimes.
Although both Criminology and Criminal Law deal with criminals and crimes, they focus on different aspects. Before choosing a degree and a career path, it’s important to know these differences.
Criminology focuses on analysing crimes and criminals in order to understand their motives and find ways to prevent future crimes. It also analyses trends and the impact of crimes on human societies. Another important aspect of Criminology is the evaluation of punishment and rehabilitation methods in order to determine their efficacy and ways to improve them.
Criminal Law deals with the criminal code and the laws directly related to criminal offences, charges, trials, and punishments for convicted criminals. The main focus of Criminal Law is to determine if a suspect broke the law, what were the consequences, and what punishments they deserve if they’re found guilty.
Before we explore some of the most popular career options, here are a few top places to study Criminal Law and Criminology:
- Masters in Criminal Law in the U.S.
- Masters in Criminal Law in Australia
- Masters in Criminology in the UK
- Masters in Criminology in Canada
Let’s look at some of the most popular Criminology jobs and the average salaries in the US according to PayScale:
1. Parole/Probation Officer – 43,000 USD/year
Both parole and probation officers have very similar jobs. The main difference is that probation officers work with convicted criminals who are on probation (which means they don’t have to go to prison), while parole officers work with criminals who have already served a sentence in prison. Here are a few examples of common tasks:
- Work with offenders/criminals and create a plan to reintegrate them in our society
- Help them find a place to live, employment or take treatment for mental health issues if it’s necessary
- Meet with offenders and administer drug tests
- Monitor and evaluate their overall progress
2. Criminal Psychologist – 57,600 USD/year
- Study criminals and crimes in order to understand why they break the law
- Evaluate offenders and establish what’s the risk of recidivism
- Work with law enforcement, making psychological assessments of suspects or criminals; this is often called offender or criminal profiling
- Counsel criminal offenders
3. Private Investigator/Detective – 53,300 USD/year
- Conduct interview with people to collect information and identify patterns
- Research information (on the internet or using other resources) to learn more about the suspect(s)
- Perform surveillance: follow suspects, record them and their activities
- Make reports and keep clients up to date with the progress/findings of the investigation
4. Crime Scene Investigator/Forensic Investigator – 46,000 USD/year
- Work with the police and attend crime scenes
- Preserve the crime scene and look for evidence that can be used in a criminal case
- Collect and sort different types of evidence
- Write reports about your findings and conclusions
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about Criminal Law careers. Here are some of the most popular options:
5. Criminal Lawyer – 79,800 USD/year
- Represent/defend clients facing criminal charges during trials in court
- Research criminal codes and procedural law
- Conduct investigation and interview witnesses to prepare a defence
- Draft, file, and argue motions and appeals
- Negotiate lesser charges with the prosecution
6. Paralegal/Legal Assistant – 46,700 USD/year
- Work with lawyers and help them perform their legal duties
- Prepare trial notes and legal briefs
- Conduct legal research
- Organise case files
7. Legislator – 52,000 USD/year
- Change existing legislation or work on passing new laws
- Take part in debates and discuss proposed legislation
- Work on budgets and policies
- Study Criminal Law or Criminology and you’ll never have a dull moment
If you decide to study a Criminal Law or Criminology degree, you’ll have a clear path to a dynamic, challenging and unpredictable career. Your job will be anything but boring, and although solving a case could take a long time, you’ll be extremely satisfied when it goes right.
Choosing any job in the Criminology and Criminal Law field will give you a feeling of empowerment to help others and truly make your community a safer place. If you think you’re fit for the daily adventure of catching the unlawful, start applying for a degree in Criminal Law or Criminology!