If you are a police officer looking to get your detective badge, then a degree in criminology can come in mighty useful. However, that’s not exactly what we will be discussing here. A police officer already has a job and while he can certainly improve with education and build a better career path for himself, that will not be the focus of this post. Instead, we will focus on the kind of work someone can hope to get, even if they do not have any experience with peacekeeping or legal practice. This is a post about the careers that will open up to anyone with a criminal degree, a decent enough academic record, and a keen interest in the Canadian Criminal Justice System.
Correctional Officer (CO)
The job of a correctional officer, aka prison guard, is quite similar to that of a cop, but in many ways, the job can be far more dangerous. You see, while a police officer may at any point of time face a dangerous criminal on duty, correctional officers exclusively face criminals during every workday and some of them are extremely dangerous. If you feel like you are up to the task both physically and mentally, you can become a correctional officer with a criminology degree. On an average, COs get paid about CA$65,000 – 75,000 per year on average. Depending on which province you are applying in, Jailer Certifications may or may not be preferred.
Probation Officer (PO)
The salaries of probation officers are almost the same as that of the correctional officers, with perhaps a bit more added on in some provinces. Nevertheless, probation officers earn about CA$67,000 – CA$77,000 per year on an average in Canada, and their job is quite challenging to say the least. They too deal exclusively with criminals, as they are tasked with keeping paroled convicts out of trouble and in line with the law.
The other part of the probational officer’s job requires him to report incidents of misconduct to the authorities, if they break the stipulations of the probation by any means. For the most part, though, a probation officer is expected to help an ex-con become rehabilitated with society again. This may include helping them find a job and any other help that they may need to get reintegrated back into society. As you can probably guess, regular interactions with various types of criminal personalities require a deeper understanding of the criminal mind than most other jobs within the criminal justice system do. The criminology degree being taught at Wilfrid Laurier University specializes in this, so you may want to take a look at their online programs before deciding which course to take.
If you think you have a natural knack for not only understanding, but also predicting, the criminal mind, you need to strengthen your resume by getting a degree in criminal psychology, in addition to criminology. You may have already seen profilers on countless TV/web serials already, but the real job is a lot harder. Nevertheless, it does not always put you in direct contact with criminals, although frequent interactions will become an intrinsic part of your job and future research. Do note that this is a career path which is exclusively reserved for highly intelligent criminal psychologists with an innate ability to recognize patterns both inside and out the human mind. If you think that you have the qualifications, expect to get paid roughly CA$145,000 – CA$150,000 as a professional, criminal profiler and psychologist.
Private Investigator/Detective (PI)
Retired police detectives usually take up the job of a private investigator, but they are not the only ones. Of course, it helps to have the contacts you need in order to do your job, and that’s something which can only be gained through experience and time. However, having a degree in criminology is a must if you wish to get started in this line of work, barring ex-police detectives for obvious reasons. For newcomers, it is highly recommended that you learn the job, develop contacts, and grow your own PI skills by working under a renowned PI firm first.
In case you already have the experience and contacts you need to get started, know that there is no way to determine how much you will be earning every year. Since a PI is essentially a freelancer, they work under contract or on specific jobs, only to get paid accordingly. Exceptional PIs earn well over CA$120,000 per year, while most average about CA$53,500 – $58,0000 per year.
A rare but interesting job which requires a good understanding of the criminal mind is that of a jury consultant. Admittedly, they are not the highest paid professionals within the Canadian criminal justice system (CA$40,000 – CA$45,000/year on an average), but they serve a critical role which holds more importance than they are given credit for. Most importantly for freshers, becoming a jury consultant does not require extensive experience in the fields of law and justice, but a degree in criminology improves their chances of landing the job quite significantly. Some of the many pretrial duties of a jury consultant are as follows:
- Finding and suggesting individuals who would be fit for jury duty, in respect to the trial in question.
- Finding potential jurors for the future, creating their profiles, and organizing the profiles accordingly for easier selection.
- Providing assistance to jurors and attorneys, as well as becoming the channel of communication in between the two parties.
- Arranging for and conducting mock trials to make the selection process more sound.
- Collecting and analyzing data about cases, jurors, criminals, etc.
- Creating easy to read reports from the statical data.
If you are willing to go the extra mile, remember that a ton of other opportunities open up with higher professional qualifications which will assist and strengthen your criminology degree. For example, if you manage to complete your masters and preferably even PhD in Criminology, you can become a professor of criminology.