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How Do I Become a Criminal Profiler?

Criminal Profiler as Career
The criminal justice system can always use good people. One challenging option in the field is that of criminal profiler. Despite what we see on television, there is a lot more to the profession than dramatic pauses and facing down cold blooded killers. In actuality, a criminal profiler is likely to be called in on cases that have gone cold and law enforcement needs new information to continue.

Many profilers are independent, supplying services to cases — usually cold — for any number of parties. A homicide victim’s family could hire them to find something law enforcement might have missed. The police or FBI could hire one to give them a better idea of a serial killer’s mindset. Unlike, say, a private investigator, a profiler isn’t likely to go into the field, especially with cold cases. The majority of their research will be digging through paperwork.

A criminal profiler reads reports, studies photos and scrutinizes details. They look for traits, telltale signs and characteristics that the average person, even a professional criminologist, might have missed that can be used to tell investigators something about the perpetrator. This resultant profile is used to get a better understanding of what type of individual the investigators should be looking for.

Criminal profiler is one of the more fascinating jobs in criminal justice.

These criminal justice jobs are usually filled by investigators or detectives that work for law enforcement. That means on average a criminal profiler has a specific background. So, typically, in the beginning becoming a profiler would require the same criteria as a police officer or an agent of the bureau.

  • U.S. citizenship
  • At least 19 or 21 years of age, based on region
  • Hold a valid driver’s license
  • Depending on the state, some college
  • Prior law enforcement or military experience
  • No history of arrests or convictions for serious misdemeanors or felonies

These are standard across the board requirements. There could be others depending on the circumstances. For instance, while your jurisdiction may not require a higher education degree to join law enforcement, you will probably need some kind of college degree to become an agent of the FBI. You would definitely want to have one to get one of the higher criminal justice jobs. A preferred degree would be in psychology or some other focus on human behavior, forensics or criminality.

Again, unlike on television and in the movies, it’s doubtful someone fresh out of school is going to get a job as a criminal profiler. It is a long term goal, achievable through hard work and climbing up the ladder.

Criminal profilers receive specialized training. This training would be honing skills that should have begun development during the preexisting law enforcement career, preparing them for the criminal justice job of profiler. This training may come from continued education at a university. In most cases, training is supplied by special units at a federal agency like the FBI or the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime.

Working with a profiler would be beneficial. This could be a task as that sort of opportunity isn’t common. So instead working in any related field is recommended. That includes victim services, EMT, investigation, psychiatric study or anything else related to understanding criminal behavior and profiling. Volunteer work also qualifies.

Only truly experienced investigators have any chance of becoming profilers. Few of those make any real income. An independent profiler has the potential for a lucrative career, but that would require an extremely rich history from not just investigation, but consultancy, teaching and writing.

Before taking one of these justice jobs, be sure it’s the road you want to travel. Being a criminal profiler will definitely be rewarding, but getting there is going to be a challenge on every front.

Check out our Top Online Criminal Justice Degree Programs for 2015

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