How to become a Criminologist

Criminologists examine the systems by which people accused of crimes are brought to justice, attempt to explain the reasons for criminal behaviour and suggest ways crime might be reduced. Criminologists may specialise in crime prevention, cybercrime, juvenile justice, policing strategies, economic crimes or corrections. They may work in the legal field, ensuring laws keep up with changes in society. They may also work in the social/psychological fields, studying the effects of the criminal justice system or the factors that contribute to offending behaviour by individuals.

Personal requirements of a Criminologist

  • Ability to think analytically and critically
  • Personal integrity
  • Interested in welfare and human behaviour
  • Interested in working with disadvantaged groups

Education & Training for a Criminologist

To become a criminologist you usually have to complete a degree in criminology, criminal justice, justice studies, legal studies or psychology. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education with English. A number of institutions in Australia offer degrees in these areas. Institutions have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Duties & Tasks of a Criminologist


  • study the ways in which certain criminal justice agencies operate, including the law courts, police services, prisons and community-based correction centres
  • analyse and interpret data received on the incidence of crime and the operation of the justice system
  • monitor new and emerging trends in offending and crime
  • provide information about crime and the ways in which people are processed by the criminal justice system
  • catalogue information about the possible causes of crime and the crimes committed
  • compile crime statistics and develop ways in which crimesolving resources can be most effectively used
  • analyse and develop crime policy and prevention strategies
  • evaluate all aspects of crime and the criminal justice system
  • research criminological issues such as those pertaining to offenders, victims of crime and sentencing.

Employment Opportunities for a Criminologist

Criminologists work in government departments, private industry or tertiary institutions. Many universities employ criminologists as academics to teach criminology, legal studies, law and sociology, as well as to undertake their own research. Federal, state and territory justice agencies employ criminologists as research officers and policy advisers. They also work in agencies involved with policy, law reform, juvenile justice, crime statistics and adult corrections. These include the Australian Institute of Criminology, the federal Criminal Law and Law Enforcement Branch, police departments, courts and corrective institutions. Private welfare agencies and individual corporations such as specialist security firms also employ criminologists.

Avg. weekly wage:


Future growth:


Employment by state:

ACT 3.3%

NSW 31.5%

NT 1.8%

QLD 15.6%

SA 6.9%

TAS 1.7%

VIC 30.1%

WA 9%

Hours worked:



Lower unemployment

Gender split:

Male 36%

Female 64%

Education level:

Highest qualification is secondary school: 9.5%

Highest qualification is a Certificate 3 or 4: 4.5%

Highest qualification is a Diploma or Advanced Diploma: 13.8%

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 32.4%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 35.6%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0.1%

20-24 - 6.1%

25-34 - 26.8%

35-44 - 22.6%

45-54 - 19.5%

55-59 - 8.2%

60-64 - 7.1%

65 and Over - 9.5%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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