What does a Criminal Profiler do?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A criminal profiler analyzes criminal cases and develops behavioral and personality profiles of criminals. Usually, a person in this field has spent an extended amount of time studying psychology and criminal behavior in order to learn how the criminal mind works and the patterns of behavior criminals demonstrate. An individual who becomes a criminal profiler doesn’t solve crimes, however. Instead, he provides those attempting to solve crimes with profiles of the perpetrators, helping them to zero in on the type of person who commits certain crimes and ultimately catch criminals.

A criminal profiler may evaulate details of a crime scene.
A criminal profiler may evaulate details of a crime scene.

Sometimes a criminal profiler is called on to create a profile of a serial killer. To do so, he may evaluate details of crimes scenes and even information about the victims to draw important conclusions about the criminal. For example, a serial killer may seem to focus on victims of a certain race and with a particular color hair or body stature. Details about the victims, the manner in which they were killed, and clues the criminal left behind may help a profiler draw conclusions about the person responsible. Even the location in which the bodies were found may help a profiler deduce such things as the criminal’s race, age, and agenda.

Criminal profilers use the information from a crime scene to deduce information about the perpetrator.
Criminal profilers use the information from a crime scene to deduce information about the perpetrator.

In most cases, criminal profilers spend most of their work time in their own offices, pouring over information collected by a law enforcement agency or involved in other research. For example, criminal profilers may spend a significant amount of time researching and studying past crimes. By doing so, they may be able to draw conclusions about criminal behavior that prove helpful in creating criminal profiles in future cases.

Though the main part of a criminal profiler’s job is usually profiling criminals, he may also take on other tasks. For example, a person in this career may teach law enforcement officials, helping them to apply profiling to solving crimes. A criminal profiler may also teach psychologists and students hoping to begin careers as profilers. He may even provide instruction for individuals who work in crime labs.

Sometimes a criminal profiler may also appear in court as an expert witness. In such a case, he may share expert knowledge of the case at hand. He may also provide some background information regarding criminal profiling itself.

A person who wants to become a criminal profiler may begin this career by earning a degree in psychology or criminology. He may then pursue a career in law enforcement or choose to work as a freelancer. It is worth noting that people who pursue this career are often called investigators instead of profilers.

A criminal profiler might gain experience by interviewing and following witnesses of a crime.
A criminal profiler might gain experience by interviewing and following witnesses of a crime.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


@post no. 1: This is absolutely untrue. From a (successful) criminal profiler who's never worked with the FBI.


do you *have* to become part of the FBI before you can peruse to becoming a criminal profiler? What are some good universities in Canada to go to if i am interested in becoming a criminal profiler? Are there certain classes that i need to take and keep high marks in to have a better chance of getting into the profiling field?



BrickBack-I agree and I think that a criminal profiler career would be fascinating but a bit scary. Although it is just a movie, watching the Anthony Hopkins thriller of “Silence of the Lambs” makes you think twice about looking into criminal profiler training.

It really takes a certain psychological make up to be able to perform and develop a criminal profiler career. For those that are interested in this field the average salary for a profiler is $60,000 a year.

Despite its gruesome reputation a criminal profiler career can be very rewarding because your expertise helps law enforcement find suspects of violent crimes that they otherwise would not be able to find. Your insight helps to narrow down the focus for the investigators and makes their job of catching the suspects easier.


A criminal profiler career really begins when you become a special agent with the F.B.I.

Here you learn the methodology of criminal behavior and really begin your criminal profiler education. To be an FBI criminal profiler you have to have at least a bachelor’s degree and law enforcement training of at least three years.

Some people interested in this field study criminal psychology and become a forensic psychologist.

These people are used when profiling cases of violent criminals. They also are called in to not only attest to the psychological fitness of a defendant but what traits as well as family history the defendant has that contribute to his propensity to commit violent crimes.

A forensic psychologist would be an excellent profiler because they truly understand the mind of a criminal because they analyze criminals all day long.

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