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How to Become a Criminal Profiler

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Solving Puzzles as a Criminal Profiler

If you love to watch crime movies and sit on the edge of your seat while trying to solve the puzzle with the clues given, you might be interested in becoming a criminal profiler. It takes a bit of education and experience to work in this career, but it is well worth it, because of the great salary associated with the profession. As an added benefit, you can work part-time as a consultant and still have time to be with your family and children.

Job Description

Most criminal profilers work for the FBI as special agents; however, you can work for your local police department to help catch criminals in ongoing cases or in cold cases. In unsolved cases, profilers interview victims and their families and anyone who actually saw the criminal. They also review police files with all the information that was gathered in the original reports and sometimes go to the site of the crime to detect additional evidence. Criminal profilers can also work as advisers to law enforcement, providing advice on strategies, analysis and profiling, rather than being directly involved in active investigations.

Education Requirements

Graduating from high school is just the beginning. To be a great candidate as a criminal profiler, it helps to volunteer through your local police department and take secondary education courses in government or psychology.

Secure a bachelor’s degree in one of several areas, such as criminal justice, psychology or forensic science. The best courses to take include crime scene analysis, psychology, forensics, law and sociology. These prepare you to attend a law enforcement academy, which lasts for approximately three to five months, providing extensive education in criminal investigations.

Next is hands-on training in the field, where you work for local law enforcement as a police officer, detective or investigator. You will likely be required to get ongoing training to learn new investigative techniques or processes to keep up with the industry. This type of ongoing training educates you in investigations, interviews and analysis of crimes and prepares you to give expert testimony in court to support the findings of law enforcement.

Many pursuing a career in criminal profiling also attend an FBI academy or go on to earn an advanced degree, such as a master's degree or Ph.D. in a relevant field.

About the Industry

Criminal profilers work out of an office most of the time. However, if the local law enforcement doesn’t allow the removal of records from their archives to outside locations, profilers could spend a considerable amount of time working at police stations.

When going to a crime scene in person, profilers are subject to the environment where the crime occurred. This could be any area from deep in the woods to buildings or parking structures. If it is an outdoor area, you have to dress for the weather conditions and temperature and wear sturdy boots or shoes for hiking. In a wet area, you might need to wear rubber rain boots or even hip waders, depending on how deep the water is.

Years of Experience

PayScale reports that the average annual wage for a criminal profiler is $62,874. As with most careers, it increases as you gain more experience. Here is a chart with average annual wages based on experience:

  • 0 to 5 years: $60,000
  • 5 to 10 years: $72,000
  • 10 to 20 years: $82,000
  • Over 20 years: $118,000

In addition, most criminal profilers have medical, dental and vision benefits.

Job Growth Trend

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of psychologists as a whole, including criminal profilers, is expected to rise 14 percent through 2026. This growth rate is faster than the rate of all professions collectively.

The New York Times reported that violent crimes increased for two consecutive years starting in 2016. Should this trend continue, more criminal profilers will be needed to carry the additional workload.


Mary Lougee has been writing for over 10 years. She holds a Bachelor's Degree with a major in Management and a double minor in accounting and computer science. She loves writing about careers for busy families as well as family oriented planning, meals and activities for all ages.

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