Crime-fighting degrees offer a range of career options

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Crime novels and mysteries pack bookstore shelves. Crime and justice fill blocks of TV air time. These are just two indications of how fascinated Americans are with crime, its root causes and ways to apprehend criminals. But for some, the interest goes beyond armchair entertainment.

For people who want to pursue a career in fighting crime, job prospects are good and the promise of a fulfilling, life-long vocation is even better. The Bureau of Labor Statistics occupational outlook indicates law enforcement careers will grow 10 percent through 2018. The report describes this field as “favorable” for qualified individuals. What’s more, few jobs have the same potential to make a positive impact on society. However, it’s important to know the differences between criminal justice and criminology, two related but very different fields.

When weighing the option to pursue a bachelor’s in criminology or criminal justice, prospective students need to consider the nature of the job that they want. In a criminal justice career, the focus is on the apprehension and handling of criminals. But in criminology, the emphasis is instead placed on criminal behavior, its causes, and its patterns as a method of capturing criminals and preventing crime, much like what is seen on criminal profiling programs on television.

In criminology, a number of dynamics come into play: psychology and sociology, as well as political and environmental factors. Those in the field work to develop knowledge of criminal behavior and how it affects society, studying general behaviors and causes of crime and more specific issues such as juvenile crime, workplace violence and terrorism.

The skills and knowledge gained in pursuing a criminology degree can apply to a number of different jobs, something which is an added benefit in an already tight job market. Because the multitude of topics covered in the criminology curriculum is so wide-ranging, graduates have opportunities in private security, intelligence gathering and analysis, insurance investigation and more, in addition to standard criminology careers.

People already working in law enforcement, criminal justice or similar careers can also expand their earning and advancement potential by adding a master’s degree. Because colleges like Regis University offer a master’s in criminology online, it’s possible to pursue a new degree without sacrificing your current job. The skills you gain will help you better understand and be able to confront criminal behavior, in order to make stronger contributions to your professional organization.

The world of studying criminal behavior doesn’t have to be confined to an hour on TV or a few chapters in a book. Those who want to make criminology their career have more options than ever before, because of online degree programs now offered by accredited universities.