Career Development

How To Become a Criminology Professor: Step-by-Step Guide

Learn about the steps important to pursuing a career as a criminology professor, including education, skills, salary and more.

Criminology professors teach future law enforcement officers, social workers and other professionals about the study of crime. They conduct research on crime and develop theories about its causes and effects. If you are interested in becoming a criminology professor, it is important to know that this career requires a significant amount of education and training. In this article, we discuss the steps you need to take to become a criminology professor.

What Does a Criminology Professor Do?

Criminology professors typically work at the collegiate level, teaching students about crime and criminal justice. They may also conduct research on various aspects of criminology to further knowledge in the field. The duties of a criminology professor usually include:

  • Planning and preparing course materials, such as lectures, syllabi and exams
  • Teaching courses on topics like juvenile delinquency, corrections, victimology and deviant behavior
  • Advising and mentoring students
  • Conducting research on various aspects of criminology
  • Writing and publishing scholarly articles and books
  • Presenting at conferences
  • Serving on committees
  • Performing administrative tasks, such as serving as department chair

Criminology Professor Salary and Job Outlook

The average salary for a criminology professor is $74,675. This figure can vary based on the level of experience, education, industry and geographical location of the professor.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job prospects for criminology professors to increase at an average rate over the next decade. This is due to many factors such as the growing popularity of criminology programs at the collegiate level. As more students seek degrees in this field, there will likely be an increased demand for qualified professors to teach these courses.

How to Become a Criminology Professor

Here are several steps you should take to become a criminology professor.

1. Earn a bachelor’s degree in criminology or a related field

A bachelor’s degree in criminology is the minimum educational requirement for entry into a doctoral program. Criminology programs cover topics such as criminal law, crime prevention and rehabilitation, victimology and forensic science. Coursework may include statistics, psychology, sociology, research methods, juvenile delinquency and corrections.

Some colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field. These programs focus on the role of law enforcement, courts and correctional facilities in society. Students learn about areas such as police practices, constitutional rights and emergency management.

2. Complete a doctoral program in criminology or a related field

To become a criminology professor, you need to earn a doctoral degree in the field. Criminology programs prepare students for research and teaching careers in criminal justice and crime prevention. Students take coursework in areas such as juvenile delinquency, victimization, corrections, policing and terrorism.

During your program, you may have opportunities to conduct research or work with law enforcement professionals. This experience can help you develop skills that are useful in a criminology career.

3. Gain experience working in the criminal justice system

While it is not required for you to have experience working in the criminal justice system before becoming a criminology professor, having this type of experience can help you better understand how the field works and what research topics are most important.

For example, if you want to work as a criminology professor at a prison or jail, you may be able to get an internship or volunteer position that allows you to interact with inmates and staff members. You could also seek out opportunities to work as a police officer, crime scene investigator or forensic scientist.

4. Develop strong research and writing skills

As a criminology professor, you will need to conduct extensive research and write papers that are well-supported by evidence. Researching topics for your classes can also help you stay up to date on the latest developments in the field of criminology.

You should develop strong writing skills as well, since you will be expected to write course materials such as syllabi and lecture notes. Strong writing skills can also help you publish articles in scholarly journals or books.

5. Obtain tenure at a college or university

Tenure is a form of job security that professors earn after several years of teaching at a college or university. Once you are granted tenure, your employer cannot fire you unless there is cause. To obtain tenure, you must first be approved for a position as an assistant professor. After three to five years of service as an assistant professor, you can apply for tenure.

6. Publish scholarly articles in criminology journals

Criminology professors often publish articles in scholarly journals to share their research with other academics. To do so, you may first need to submit your article for review by a journal editor who decides whether the content is appropriate and of high enough quality to be published.

Once an editor has approved your article, you can submit it to the publisher, who will then print and distribute copies of your work. You can also use online publishing platforms to make your articles available to readers around the world.

7. Stay up to date on changes in the field of criminology

Criminology is a dynamic field that changes frequently as new research and developments are produced. As a professor, it’s important to stay up to date on these changes so you can teach them to your students. For example, if the crime rate in your area increases, you may need to update your course content to reflect this change.

You should also keep abreast of advancements in technology and how they affect criminal justice systems. For instance, many colleges now offer online courses, which could impact how you teach criminology.


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