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How Do I Start a Career in Sociological Criminology?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 April 2014
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A bachelor’s degree in sociology, psychology, or criminal justice is the first step to start a career in sociological criminology. Students hoping to teach or conduct research typically earn a Ph.D. in one or more areas. Some regions require internships in sociological criminology and licensing before beginning work.

Criminology majors typically complete courses in social sciences to learn about deviant behavior and social problems that contribute to crime. Students enrolled in psychology or sociology as major areas of study typically learn research methods using statistics, theories of crime, and reporting methods. They might major in one area and choose the other as a minor field of study.

Sociological criminologists research how social problems lead to criminal behavior and analyze ways to reduce the number of crimes committed. They might devise profiles of people who commit certain types of crimes to aid law enforcement investigations. Sociological criminology also analyzes deviant behavior by race, gender, age, and class. These criminologists might research how drugs or alcohol affects juvenile delinquency, and how juvenile crime relates to offenses as an adult.

The field also includes work to improve the effectiveness of correctional institutions. Sociological criminology looks at different means of punishment and rehabilitation efforts. These studies might be broken down by biological, environmental, and psychological factors related to incarceration.

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These professionals might work for government agencies at the local, state, or federal level to develop reform strategies to prevent crime. Some criminologists work for private law firms to analyze social factors or personality disorders linked to abnormal behavior. Jobs might also be available in jails, prisons, or rehabilitation centers, where programs might be analyzed to gauge their effectiveness. An internship might be available in law enforcement agencies to help gain experience in criminology.

University studies typically include research methods and theories of normal and deviant behavior. They generally include looking at different types of crimes and the psychological roots of abnormal behavior, including a criminal's home environment or experiences as a child. Courses might cover how law enforcement interacts with the judicial system and the constitutional rights of citizens. Studies typically include victims’ rights and how criminal behavior affects them.

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