Criminology is a vast field with lots of different niches to explore, and it’s a great opportunity for people who like solving puzzles to contribute something of great value to society. Many people wrongly assume that the variety of jobs in the field is very limited, when the reality is quite different from that. There are tons of different specializations to pick from, and if you don’t enjoy the idea of interacting with messy crime scenes or aggressive suspects, there are various other options that you can go for.
Forensic Science Technician
A forensic science technician is typically responsible for all technical aspects of working with evidence. They will run advanced analysis, use complicated equipment, and sometimes act as the main communication link between different parts of an investigation. A good forensic science technician must have a strong eye for detail and must often remember a large number of facts about every task they perform in their daily duties. Those with a strong aptitude for modern technology usually thrive in this field, and even though it’s not a strict requirement, it definitely improves your chances of progressing through this career. Good forensic science technicians are highly valued and sought after, and those with a lot of experience can easily negotiate for very high salaries. This is one of the career paths in criminology where you can’t even get started without a degree, however. A criminology degree from the Wilfrid Laurier University is a great way to break into the field.
Fire investigations are often very complex and require in-depth technical knowledge, not to mention significant experience. There are many factors that come in play here, and it’s important to have a good understanding of material science, fire science, and various other scientific fields. Different fire investigators often choose to specialize in different parts of the field – it’s so vast that it’s difficult to find a single specialist that covers every aspect of the job. Even then, it can be difficult to keep up with new trends in a field that moves as fast as this one. Fire investigators tend to start out rather slowly in terms of income, but this quickly picks up over just a few years, leading to fantastic prospects in the long term.
Understanding what goes on in the minds of criminals takes a special kind of attitude, and not every person is suitable for the job of a forensic psychologist. It can often be demanding and stressful and can involve prolonged periods of little to no progress when working with more complicated suspects. Forensic psychologists might also be tasked with guiding victims through their difficult moments, which can be taxing on its own, and can take its toll on even the strongest of minds. A good forensic psychologist must be able to find the right balance between their work and private life, perhaps much more than the average specialist in this field. However, the position also tends to be very highly compensated. It’s one of the few jobs in criminology that can bring in a 6-figure income without a lot of experience in the field.
It should be no surprise that criminal lawyers are also on this list. Legal professions in general tend to be compensated very well, and this is even more true for criminal lawyers, even when they don’t end up working on high-profile cases that require their full attention. This is another job with six-figure prospects – in some cases, going towards the middle of that range – but like the job of a forensic psychologist, it’s quite demanding and requires a lot of patience and determination to push forward.
Federal special agents can work in various agencies, including the FBI, DEA, and ICE, or even Secret Service. The job is not as physically demanding as one might assume, as it often doesn’t involve a lot of actual “field work” but is rather similar to what a regular detective does, just on a higher level. Federal special agents talk to suspects and witnesses, collect information, and use their resources to exert pressure when it could open the doors to additional details. The job requires a certain attitude to be successful, and those who quickly buckle under a lot of pressure typically don’t make good federal agents. However, those who excel in the field tend to be compensated very well.
Working as a regular police detective can seem less glamorous than everything we’ve listed above, but it’s actually quite the engaging and exciting job for those with a knack for it. The compensation isn’t as good as what you could get as a federal agent or criminal lawyer, but it’s still motivating enough in most cities. Police detectives often have good prospects for lateral movement in their careers as well and tend to enjoy a lot of freedom in transitioning to other specializations later in their lives. The main downside to working as a police detective is that the field can be very competitive.
If you are looking for something a bit different from most people’s associations with criminology, working as a forensic accountant can be a very exciting prospect for those who love digging through numbers and looking for connections. Modern forensic accountants use technologies like artificial intelligence heavily in their work, and it’s important to have a good understanding of the typical tech stack you’ll be working with. The job of a forensic accountant is another example of something that starts out more slowly and takes time to build momentum. But once you’ve got the ball rolling, it can be a very rewarding field in financial terms.
If you can see yourself progressing through one of those fields, all it takes to get started is to sit down and evaluate its requirements. From there, you can draft a plan for moving through the ranks and progressing as quickly as possible. If your main motivation is a nice salary, you should definitely take the time to plan things ahead, because this will impact the decisions you make in the beginning of your career.