What is Criminal Profiling?

Criminal profiling is the process of studying behavioral patterns, history, and personalities of suspected criminals. This job is carried out by specialists, known as criminal profilers. These professionals use their experience, and psychological knowledge to come up with a profile of a suspect according to the evidence gathered from the crime scene.

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Criminal Profiler – The Job Description

Criminal profilers perform multiple duties, with some major ones mentioned below:

  • Give testimony in court.
  • Conduct a psychological analysis of the suspected criminal.
  • Study the behavior of the criminals in the past and present.
  • Make a connection between the suspected criminal and the evidence gathered from the crime scene.
  • Prepare thorough reports for law enforcement agencies.
  • Analyze crime reports, crime scene evidence, victims, and witnesses, etc.
  • Study and analyze the behavior and psychological patterns of the arrested/suspected offenders.

Requirements to Become an FBI Criminal Profiler

In order to work as a criminal profiler for the FBI, you have to meet the following requirements:

  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree, at least.
  • Obtain a master’s degree or a doctorate in a related field, like psychology.
  • Obtain relevant training.
  • Should have US citizenship.
  • Should have a clean criminal record.
  • Should not have any history of substance abuse.
  • Should be extremely fit physically.
  • Should meet the FBI’s age limit.

Qualities of a Criminal Profiler

It is necessary for a criminal profiler to have certain qualities. Some of those important qualities are mentioned below:

  • Critical Thinking.
  • Ability to handle pressure.
  • Great analytical skills.
  • Strong psychological analysis ability.
  • Great listener.
  • Ability to read people.
  • Organizational ability.
  • Strong ability to read crime scene.
  • Ability to analyze crime scene.

Steps to Become a Crime Profiler

If you want to become a crime profiler, you have to complete the following steps:

Pass High School

Aspiring criminal profilers need to graduate from high school as the first step. The aspiring candidates are normally strong in subjects like psychology at the secondary or postsecondary level. Students can also work as volunteers in law enforcement agencies once they graduate from high school. Different police departments offer various volunteer initiative programs for citizens.

Get a Bachelor’s Degree

Getting a bachelor’s degree is a mandatory requirement. It will take four years for you to get a bachelor’s degree. To work as a criminal profiler, the degree you need will be in subjects like criminal justice, forensic science, or psychology, etc. A bachelor’s degree is a compulsory requirement by agencies like the FBI.

Get a Master’s Degree

Getting a master’s or a doctorate degree will enhance your job prospects and improve your chances of climbing up the ladder. Getting a high-level degree shows excellent level of professionalism and interest.

Attend an Academy

In order to work as a criminal profiler, you will need to attend a training academy as well. This is a specialized field that requires proper knowledge and skills to work professionally. Spending time in a training academy (3 – 6 months) will develop the necessary skills you need as an investigator. It is almost mandatory for all criminal profilers to have a certain level of investigation experience. If you want to join a law enforcement agency, it is mandatory for you to meet the specific requirements of that particular agency.

Get On-Field Experience

To work as a criminal profiler, you will need to get a few years of on-field/practical experience as well. You can do that by joining a law enforcement agency and work as an investigator. This experience will come in handy when you eventually move up to the ranks of a technical field like a criminal profiler.

An Amalgamation of Different Fields

Becoming a criminal profiler requires a person to be expert in different fields. It is basically a mixture of a criminal justice system and mental health. The profession requires a strong understanding of mental health issues and how it connects with the criminal justice system. For example, a criminal profiler may need to assess the mental fitness of a witness or an offender to give testimony or stand trial.

On the other hand, it is also necessary for criminal profilers to understand the different research methods used in criminal justice psychology. This is why students are taught how to implement the latest scientific research techniques in practical situations to come up with hypothesis and carry out surveys, etc.

Criminal Profilers Salary

Criminal profilers are bracketed in the category of detectives and criminal investigators by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. These law enforcement agents in the US earned a mean annual salary of $89,300 and a median annual income of $86,940 in 2020. Following are the five states with the highest mean annual salary across the US in 2020.

StateAnnual mean wage
Alaska$126,340
Maryland$113,500
Hawaii$113,150
California$111,480
New Jersey$106,120