What is Criminology All About?

What is Criminology All About?

With crime shows increasing in popularity, more people are interested in going into the field of criminology. You may know what a criminologist does from an entertainment perspective; however, the field of criminology is very different than what’s shown on TV.  So, what is criminology all about?

Criminology is the study of crimes from a sociological point of view. Criminologists study a wide area of subjects related to crime. They examine who commits crimes, why they’re committed, their impact on society, and how to prevent individuals from committing crimes. The primary goal is to determine the root causes of crime and come up with practical preventative measures.

Are you thinking about getting a degree in criminology? Would you like to know more about the practices that criminologists do? Or maybe you heard about criminology on TV, and you want to learn more. Whatever the case, read on to find out what is criminology?

What are the Branches of Criminology?

Criminology encompasses various branches such as penology, victimology, criminalistics, criminal justice administration, and empirical research. Each of these branches aims towards criminology’s primary goal, finding the root cause of crime and determining effective ways of preventing it.


Penology is the study of the punishment of crime. It looks at the philosophy of different societies’ attempts to prevent or repress criminal activities. Penology also deals with the management of correctional facilities, prisons, and the rehabilitation of criminals.


Victimology observes the victims of crimes and the psychological effects that their experiences have on them. A victimologist examines the relationships between victims and the system of criminal justice and the relationship between victims and offenders.


Criminalistics is the branch of criminology that scientifically analyzes physical evidence. Individuals who work in criminalistics are sometimes called lab technicians or crime scene investigators. Criminalists examine and analyze various physical evidence types, including fingerprints, hair, skin, blood, and fibers. After analyzing the physical evidence of a crime, they can then determine how a crime was committed.

Administration of Criminal Justice

Criminal justice administration is based on the leadership and operation of various parts of the criminal justice system, including courts and police operations. The field also examines the current issues and policies within the criminal justice system to ensure that they are effective.

Empirical Research

Empirical research in criminology conducts statistical research in crime and criminal justice. Through empirical research, criminologists can determine effective practices to deter crimes. Crime rates are also essential to determine what factors influence crimes, such as location, income, race, and upbringing.

What is a Major in Criminology?

Students who choose to study criminology take courses on the causes of crime, examining the biological, psychological, and social factors that cause them. Criminology majors analyze crimes in different locations and periods, enabling them to develop vital research and analytical skills. Criminology students ultimately study the causes of crimes and how to deter them.

A criminology student’s courses include a wide scope of classes about crime and criminal justice and other social science courses. Criminology majors usually take courses to improve their research skills, including statistics, research methods, and data science. Law and criminology work hand in hand, so students can also expect to take classes relating to criminal law, such as American law, philosophy of law, criminal procedure, and psychology of law.

At the end of their studies, criminology majors are often required to complete a capstone research project where they will pick an issue in the field, write a research paper, and present their findings.

If you are planning to major in criminology, you should also be passionate about people as well as psychology and sociology. Aspiring criminology majors should also be ready to take math courses such as statistics because criminology emphasizes research methods.

If you choose to study criminology, you should also be prepared to talk about topics that can be mentally taxing, so it’s critical for criminology majors to take care of their mental health.

What Careers Can You Have With a Degree in Criminology?

Getting a criminology degree opens up a variety of career options. Criminology graduates often find jobs as forensic scientists, police officers, private investigators, probations and corrections officers, FBI agents, and many more. Each of these career fields requires some additional training that’s specific to the job they choose.

If you choose to obtain a master’s or doctorate in criminology, you can become a criminologist. Criminologists are professionals who work to deter criminal behavior by studying factors that contribute to crimes or looking at the effectiveness of current criminal justice policies.

Ultimately, these professions attract people who enjoy helping others and are passionate about making a difference in their communities. Jobs in criminology are enriching as you get to make the world a better place by preventing crimes, working with victims, and investigating crimes. Many individuals are drawn to working in the criminology field because of the variety of career options due to the field’s interdisciplinary nature.

Are Criminologists Paid Well?

Many people who choose to go into criminal justice and criminology careers aren’t in it for the money. Individuals go into these fields because they have a strong desire to help others and make their communities a better place. Although jobs in the field aren’t the highest paying, they will undoubtedly serve to earn you a decent living. Your salary also depends on the location that you work in, your experience, and your area of expertise.

If you’re considering getting a career in criminology, you should be aware of your earning potential and have a good idea of how much you would make in the field. If you can’t decide if you want to pursue a major in criminology, or if you don’t know what career path you want to follow in the field, looking at criminologists’ salaries will help.

At the beginning of your career, you can expect to earn around $30,000 to $65,000. Once you have five to nineteen years of experience in the field, you can make anything from $30,000 to $75,000. When you have twenty or more years of criminology experience, you can make $42,000 to $82,000 per year. Salary also depends heavily on your chosen career path, the location you’re employed, and your area of expertise.

Salaries of Different Criminology Careers

  • Crime Analyst: $34,000-$50,000
  • Corrections Officer: $26,000-$39,000
  • Detective and Criminal Investigator: $36,000-$60,000
  • Forensic Scientist: $33,000-$50,000
  • Police Officer: $31,000-$50,000
  • Special Agents: $47,000-$80,000

Salaries Source: TheBalanceCareers.com

Is There a Difference Between Criminology and Criminal Justice?

The difference between criminology and criminal justice is slight but essential. Even people in the two fields often mix up the two titles; however, they are different. The difference is that criminology is the study of crime components, such as its causes, consequences, and impacts. On the other hand, criminal justice deals with the systems for dealing with crimes such as detecting crime, detaining criminals, criminal prosecution, and criminal punishment.

The criminology field looks at the behavior patterns, backgrounds, and sociological trends of crimes and criminals. Most criminologists conduct data collection and profiling, no matter what career path they’re on. Criminologist’s primary purpose is the analysis of crime and criminal patterns. They often study crimes and collect data to provide valuable information and recommendations on the causes of crimes and how to deter them. Through their research, they can identify who commits certain crimes, when crimes were committed, how they were committed, and why they were committed.

Criminologists look at suspects’ psychological behavior, socioeconomic status, and environmental factors that would lead them to commit a crime. By determining what led an individual to partake in criminal behavior, they can then figure out effective ways to deter other people from committing that crime.

Those studying criminal justice can expect to learn about the components of law enforcement and criminal justice systems. Unlike criminology, individuals in criminal justice do work involving the systems set up to address criminal behaviors. There are three primary components of the criminal justice system; law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Each of these branches is used to prevent and punish criminal acts.

When people think of criminal justice, they often think of law enforcement, specifically police officers. They are the primary defense against crime in society; they patrol and focus on crime prevention. Law enforcement is tasked with investigating crimes and apprehending suspected criminals as well.

The other components of the criminal justice system are less visible to the public eye but equally important. Criminal courts are meant to determine whether a suspect is guilty or innocent. If a suspect is found guilty, they will be sentenced or punished and transferred to the corrections system.

The correction’s role is to enforce punishments then and carry out court-mandated sentences. The corrections system consists of incarceration, probation, and parole. All of these components are made to punish and rehabilitate criminals.


Criminology is the study of crime. Criminologists look at the causes of crimes, how they were committed, why they were committed, who committed them, and how to prevent them. Obtaining a degree in criminal justice involves a lot of course work that looks at crime components. If you earn your degree in criminology, you can choose various career paths, from law enforcement to crime analysis.

Criminology is becoming a more popular major for people to go into. Individuals who go into criminology have a passion for helping others and improving their communities. Criminology is a gratifying career path to pursue because criminologists play a critical role in making their community a safer place.

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