A typical day for a criminologist might include examining criminal demographics, questioning suspected or known criminals, and creating profiles of criminals and criminal activity. Criminologists research sociological factors that affect criminal activity, such as poverty, education levels and family dysfunction. They carry out their work while employed at universities, government agencies and police departments, earning a salary that increases with experience and education.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sociologists -- including criminologists -- earn a median annual salary of $72,430, as of May 2013. Criminologists earning a wage in the 10th percentile make $39,790 per year, while those in the 90th percentile earn a salary of $127,590 per year.
Experience and Education
Earning potential for criminologists increases significantly with greater education and experience. Although most sociologists must have at least a master's degree, criminologists can enter the field with only a bachelor's degree in most cases. Criminologists start at the lower end of the pay scale and earn more with graduate education, certifications and work experience. A typical salary range for entry-level criminologists with a bachelor's degree is from $20,880 to $44,000 a year, as of 2012, based on a salary survey from Florida State University.
Some locations throughout the country pay criminologists a higher salary than other regions. For example, sociologists working in the District of Columbia earn a median annual salary of $105,210. Other states pay significantly less. Those working in Washington state, for example earn a median wage of $62,560 per year.
Employment in the field of sociology, including criminologists, is expected to increase by 15 percent between 2012 and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is higher than the expected 11 percent employment growth in all occupations. Criminologists may also find career opportunities in other fields, including teaching, law enforcement, counseling and social work.