Careers advice and planning

What can I do with a criminology degree?

21 Jun 2023, 15:41

What careers can you do with a criminology degree and what skills does it give you? Discover job options for criminology graduates across a range of sectors.

Handcuffs: what can you do with a criminology degree?

What can you do with a criminology degree in the UK? Some criminology graduates do choose to work in careers relating to crime and punishment, which are likely to involve directly applying what they’ve learned in the workplace, but that’s far from the only option.

As a criminology student you will have studied crime and its effects on society as a whole, such as why people commit crimes and how crime can be prevented. You will have gained similar skills to psychology and sociology graduates, but with a specialist interest.

What jobs can you do with a criminology degree?

The careers you can go into after graduating from undergraduate study in criminology can be divided up in four main ways. You could aim to apply for:

  1. Jobs closely related to criminology
  2. Jobs at employers relevant to criminology
  3. Jobs where your criminology degree would be particularly useful – including different types of law careers
  4. Jobs you can do with any degree

1. Jobs that are very closely related to criminology

If you’ve found criminology fascinating to study, a job that allows you to apply it in your day-to-day work is likely to be a good fit. Consider the following.

  • A criminologist or lecturer in criminology analyses data on criminal activity to understand the reasons why people commit crimes and reoffend. They share their insights with police forces and government policy makers to help prevent future crime, and sometimes present their research findings at conferences. You’ll usually need to complete at least a masters in criminology to become a criminologist.
  • A police officer is an obvious one. You don’t need to have studied a specific degree subject to join the police but your knowledge of criminology may be an advantage. Graduates can either apply directly to a police force or join a degree-holder entry programme such as Police Now ’s national graduate leadership programme or national detective programme.
  • A scene of crime officer works alongside police officers to help solve crimes, taking photos of evidence and identifying traces left at crime scenes. A specific degree subject is not required but criminology is likely to be very relevant. You can find vacancies advertised by individual police forces.
  • A probation officer provides advice to offenders and runs programmes to help rehabilitate them. Specialist qualifications are needed, which you can study for on the job through the Professional Qualification in Probation training programme. If you studied certain modules as part of your criminology degree, you may be able to complete this scheme in a shorter time.
  • A border force officer ensures that the UK border is safe and secure. Knowledge of criminology will likely stand you in good stead to grasp the theory side of the role.
  • A prison officer supervises and supports prisoners. A specific degree subject is not needed and you can either apply directly for job vacancies at prisons or join the Unlocked leadership development programme.

2. Jobs at employers that are relevant to criminology

Perhaps you’re not necessarily set on a criminology-focused role but would like to work for an organisation that is helping to tackle or prevent crime. Examples include:

  • central and local government – look out for entry-level roles advertised on the Civil Service jobs website, such as civil service administrator jobs, or consider the two-year national graduate development programme for local authorities
  • MI5 (Security Service) – runs intelligence and data analyst, intelligence officer and technology graduate development programmes, plus a business enablers entry scheme for corporate roles such as HR, recruitment and data management
  • MI6 (Secret Intelligence Service) – offers graduate-level jobs such as intelligence officer, business support officer, corporate services (including aspects of procurement, facilities management, finance and legal) and technology roles
  • GCHQ (Government Communication Headquarters) – advertises graduate-level roles in areas including technology, project management and corporate services such as procurement, legal and finance
  • HM Revenue and Customs – runs a four-year tax professional graduate programme and advertises individual roles through the Civil Service jobs website
  • the National Crime Agency – advertises job vacancies with various entry requirements (including corporate functions such as finance and HR) on its own website and the Civil Service Jobs website
  • not-for-profit organisations such as charities that work with young offenders or victims of crime.

3. Jobs where your criminology degree would be an advantage

Your degree will have developed your knowledge of criminal psychology, the social context of crime and how crime is detected, investigated and punished, as well as societal issues such as poverty and inequality. These insights are likely to be useful not only in jobs that involve directly interacting with criminals or the criminal justice system, but also in some less closely related careers.

You are likely to have gained transferable skills including:

This combination of skills and knowledge that a criminology degree gives you could be particularly useful for jobs such as:

  • A social worker provides advice and support to help individuals and families solve problems. If your first degree is in criminology (or any subject other than social work) you’ll need to complete an accredited postgraduate degree in social work. There is the option to do this on a work-based training programme with an organisation such as Frontline .
  • A community worker helps local people to tackle problems facing their area. You don’t need a specific degree or professional qualification.
  • A youth worker helps children and young people to build life skills and make good decisions. Those who haven’t done an undergraduate degree in youth work need to complete a masters or postgraduate diploma accredited by the National Youth Agency .
  • A social researcher investigates social issues such as unemployment, health, education and social policy. A good degree in any subject is usually accepted, though some employers ask for specific subjects (particularly social research, business studies, mathematics or statistics) or a postgraduate qualification.
  • A counsellor works with individuals to help them overcome difficulties. It’s possible to enter the profession with any degree subject.
  • A psychologist , particularly a forensic or prison psychologist, would draw upon your knowledge of criminology when working with offenders. You’ll need to complete a conversion course accredited by the British Psychological Society , followed by a doctorate in clinical psychology.

Going into law careers with a criminology degree: law is another career option that is well suited to criminology graduates with their transferable skills and knowledge of criminal justice – and criminal law in particular is likely to be of interest to you.

You don’t need a degree to become a paralegal or legal executive . Becoming a barrister requires a qualifying law degree, while becoming a solicitor will require a degree in any discipline and the legal knowledge required to pass the qualifying exams. You can enter either of the professions without a law degree but you will likely require or want a law conversion course in order to get employed.

It’s common for criminology degrees to be available as joint honours with law. If you are studying for one of these, be aware that it may not immediately count as a qualifying law degree. You may need to undertake extra study or convert it to an LLB in order to meet the requirements to become a solicitor or barrister.

If you’re considering a law career, take a look at our advice on how to become a lawyer in the UK , the training you need to become a barrister and what the solicitors qualifying examination involves.

4. Jobs you can do with any degree, including criminology

The transferable skills you will have gained from your degree in criminology make you a good candidate for a variety of employers and career paths. It’s also worth remembering that any degree is valuable experience of managing your own workload, doing independent research and performing under pressure. You can go into any career that accepts graduates from all degree backgrounds. While you should check individual employers’ requirements carefully, these sectors typically include:

Read more about skills you can get from any degree and careers open to all degree backgrounds .

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