How To Become A Criminal Profiler Without Being A Cop

Last Updated on May 29, 2024 by Team College Learners

Are you interested in pursuing a career as a criminal profiler, but don’t want to become a police officer? It is possible to become a criminal profiler without being a cop by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a related field. By earning a degree in fields such as criminal justice or psychology, aspiring criminal profilers can gain the necessary knowledge and skills to analyze criminal behavior and assist law enforcement agencies in solving cases.

To be admitted into a program that prepares individuals to become criminal profilers, students typically need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some programs may also require applicants to have a minimum GPA or to submit standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT. In addition, applicants may need to provide letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and transcripts of previous academic coursework.

Once you have met the admission requirements, the next step is to apply to a university that offers a program in criminal profiling. The application process may vary depending on the institution, but typically involves completing an application form, submitting all required documents, and paying an application fee. Some universities may also require applicants to attend an interview or submit a writing sample as part of the admissions process.

Criminal profiling is a job that uses psychology, sociology, and other fields of study to figure out who committed a crime and why they did it. It’s based on research about what makes people act in certain ways—specifically when it comes to committing crimes.

How to start criminal profiling?

Criminal psychologists focus the bulk of their work on offenders. More specifically, they direct their efforts on learning why offenders commit offenses. Their research involves searching for answers through relationships, motivations, and psychological stressors in order to better understand the mind of the criminal.

Steps to Becoming a Criminal Profiler

Steps to Becoming a Criminal Profiler

Step 1: Graduate from high school (four years)

  • High school diploma

Step 2: Get a bachelor’s degree in forensics, criminal justice, psychology, or a related discipline (four years)

  • Bachelor’s degree in forensics, criminal justice, psychology, or related field

Step 3: Attend a law enforcement academy (three to five months)

  • Completion of law enforcement academy training

Step 4: Garner experience in the field (several years)

  • Several years of experience in the criminal justice field

Criminal profiling is also known as criminal investigative analysis (CIA). It’s used by law enforcement agencies across the world to help them solve crimes faster and more efficiently.

That means if you’re interested in becoming an investigator or detective, then you should probably consider taking some classes in criminology or psychology at your local community college before applying for any jobs at law enforcement agencies.

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Overview – What is a Criminal Profiler?

A criminal profiler is part of a law enforcement team that uses his or her training, intuition, and experience to help solve a crime by profiling potential suspects. They reconstruct a crime from the time it was committed right to the end. They then analyze the behavioral and physical evidence surrounding the crime. Using the information they’ve gathered, they determine the most possible and likely scenario.

Criminal profilers use their knowledge of both law enforcement and psychology to create a psychological profile of the suspect. With the information provided by criminal profilers, law enforcement agencies can narrow down their search and only pursue suspects that meet that criterion.

how to become a profiler for the police

Criminal Profiler as Career
The criminal justice system can always use good people. One challenging option in the field is that of criminal profiler. Despite what we see on television, there is a lot more to the profession than dramatic pauses and facing down cold blooded killers. In actuality, a criminal profiler is likely to be called in on cases that have gone cold and law enforcement needs new information to continue.

Many profilers are independent, supplying services to cases — usually cold — for any number of parties. A homicide victim’s family could hire them to find something law enforcement might have missed. The police or FBI could hire one to give them a better idea of a serial killer’s mindset. Unlike, say, a private investigator, a profiler isn’t likely to go into the field, especially with cold cases. The majority of their research will be digging through paperwork.

A criminal profiler reads reports, studies photos and scrutinizes details. They look for traits, telltale signs and characteristics that the average person, even a professional criminologist, might have missed that can be used to tell investigators something about the perpetrator. This resultant profile is used to get a better understanding of what type of individual the investigators should be looking for.

Criminal profiler is one of the more fascinating jobs in criminal justice.

These criminal justice jobs are usually filled by investigators or detectives that work for law enforcement. That means on average a criminal profiler has a specific background. So, typically, in the beginning becoming a profiler would require the same criteria as a police officer or an agent of the bureau.

  • U.S. citizenship
  • At least 19 or 21 years of age, based on region
  • Hold a valid driver’s license
  • Depending on the state, some college
  • Prior law enforcement or military experience
  • No history of arrests or convictions for serious misdemeanors or felonies

These are standard across the board requirements. There could be others depending on the circumstances. For instance, while your jurisdiction may not require a higher education degree to join law enforcement, you will probably need some kind of college degree to become an agent of the FBI. You would definitely want to have one to get one of the higher criminal justice jobs. A preferred degree would be in psychology or some other focus on human behavior, forensics or criminality.

Again, unlike on television and in the movies, it’s doubtful someone fresh out of school is going to get a job as a criminal profiler. It is a long term goal, achievable through hard work and climbing up the ladder.

Criminal profilers receive specialized training. This training would be honing skills that should have begun development during the preexisting law enforcement career, preparing them for the criminal justice job of profiler. This training may come from continued education at a university. In most cases, training is supplied by special units at a federal agency like the FBI or the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime.

Working with a profiler would be beneficial. This could be a task as that sort of opportunity isn’t common. So instead working in any related field is recommended. That includes victim services, EMT, investigation, psychiatric study or anything else related to understanding criminal behavior and profiling. Volunteer work also qualifies.

Only truly experienced investigators have any chance of becoming profilers. Few of those make any real income. An independent profiler has the potential for a lucrative career, but that would require an extremely rich history from not just investigation, but consultancy, teaching and writing.

Before taking one of these justice jobs, be sure it’s the road you want to travel. Being a criminal profiler will definitely be rewarding, but getting there is going to be a challenge on every front.

The Role of Forensic Psychology in Criminal Justice

how to become a criminal profiler without being a cop

If you’ve ever watched television shows like Criminal Minds or Law & Order, you’ve seen the roles that criminal profilers play in solving crimes. They’re exciting to watch and often encourage viewers to want to become a criminal profiler.

But what is a criminal profiler? A criminal profiler is an expert in analyzing crime scenes, interviewing suspects, and developing profiles of criminals based on their characteristics. They use this information to help law enforcement agencies solve crimes.

Profiling can be a very rewarding career choice if you enjoy working with people, helping others, and using your intelligence to solve problems. However, it can also be stressful and challenging because it involves dealing with victims’ families as well as perpetrators of violent crimes.

Here are some basic facts about criminal profiling:

-Profilers work within local law enforcement agencies as well as federal agencies like the FBI and CIA

-They typically receive training from an accredited school such as John Jay University in New York City or Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond

Tips for Criminology Majors to Prep for Their Career | LiveCareer

Career Outlook for Profilers

Criminal profilers have various career opportunities available to them. Some choose to work independently and only provide their services when they’re needed. Attorneys, police departments, and government or law enforcement agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the National Security Administration (NSA) might contact them for their services. Profilers may find work at the local, state, or federal level of law enforcement.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn’t have a specific category for profilers but does classify them in the group of private detectives and criminal investigators. According to the BLS, these professionals can expect job growth of eight percent between 2019 and 2029. Based on growth percent, about 3,000 new detective and criminal investigator jobs should be created by 2029.

Despite the important role profilers play in the criminal justice system, there are not a lot of jobs specifically for criminal profilers. The majority of criminal profilers start as detectives or criminal investigators and choose to obtain additional training. Many of these professionals who have advanced degrees pursue careers as forensic psychology professors, juvenile offenders, or jury consultants to name just a few. Criminal justice is a broad field and offers many possibilities.

Private detectives and criminal investigators may find more success by pursuing work in certain states. Below are the five states with the highest number of private detectives and criminal investigators employed as well as the number as of a May 2020 BLS report.

  • Texas – 17,400
  • California – 12,140
  • New York – 9,140
  • Florida – 6,700
  • Arizona – 5,700
What is a Criminal Profiler? Key Job Duties and Skills

Criminal Profiler Salary

Criminal profilers have the potential to earn very good salaries throughout their careers. Several factors can affect the wage potential, including the amount of training, years of experience, degree level, employer, and geographical location. The BLS reports that detectives and criminal investigators earned an average annual wage of $86,940 as of May 2020. The wages ranged from $46,020 for the lowest ten percent and $146,000 at the top 90 percent.

Wages can vary by the factors listed above but are also affected by location. Here are five states where detectives and criminal investigators earned the highest wages.

Highest Criminal Profiler Wages by State

  • Alaska – $126,340
  • Maryland – $113,500
  • Hawaii – $113,150
  • California – $111,480
  • New Jersey – $106,120

Lowest Criminal Profiler Wages by State

Here are the states where these professionals earned the lowest wages.

  • Idaho – $48,120
  • Arkansas – $48,600
  • South Carolina – $50,200
  • Louisiana – $53,200
  • North Carolina – $53,590

How to Become a Profiler

Some careers are specific in what they require as far as education and training. This is not the case with profilers because there are various paths a candidate can take for this career. Some may complete a criminal justice program with an emphasis on criminal behavior or criminal justice.

Others may choose to become a law enforcement agent to gain some real-world experience prior to taking additional training for profiling. The most common way to become a criminal profiler includes the following.

  • Have a high school diploma – Candidates who already know what they want to do when they graduate often take government or psychology courses. They can also gain experience by volunteering with their local law enforcement agency. Some local law enforcement agencies offer internships for these individuals.
  • Earn a degree – Although criminal justice programs are offered at the associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degree levels, a bachelor’s degree is the most common requirement for this position. Candidates who wish to work for the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) are required to have at least a bachelor’s degree before they can enroll in the FBI academy. Aspiring profilers can pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, psychology, forensics or a related field. These degrees generally take four years to complete. The duration can vary either way if he or she earns the degree online.
  • Enroll in a law enforcement academy – To be eligible for and successful in profiling, the candidate must complete training at a law enforcement or police academy, which can be from three to six months long. The academy training provides the individual with hands-on training out in the field. To be eligible for policy academy enrollment, the candidate must be at least 18 years old, have some college or military experience, possess a valid driver’s license, and not have any felonies.
  • Obtain additional training – The more experience and training the individual has in this area, the better his or her career opportunities. The FBI reports that their profilers have between seven and 15 years prior to joining the BAU unit. It’s important that the training and experience cover many areas, such as forensics, legal issues, risk assessment, crime typologies, forensic pathology, treat assessment, crime scene analysis, human behavior, and interviewing skills.
  • Complete additional training programs – Senior agents with at least eight years of experience can take advantage of a 13-week criminal profiling program offered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). The FBI also offers training programs for aspiring profilers.
  • Get an advanced degree – Although a bachelor’s degree is all that’s required for this career, many profilers choose to earn a master’s or Ph.D. in criminal justice, forensic psychology, or a similar field. Earning an advanced degree can enhance a resume and improvement job opportunities.

In addition to the educational requirements and training required to become a profiler, the candidate must also possess other skills to be successful in this job.

  • Strong analytical and intuition skills
  • Good research skills
  • Experience conducting interviews and investigations
  • Understanding and knowledge of psychology and criminal minds
  • Excellent problem-solving skills
  • Emotional detachment
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Good listening skills and the ability to understand what is said
  • Persistence and determination
  • Good reasoning skills
  • Good organizational skills
  • Strong attention to detail

where do criminal profilers work


You must work your way up to the position of criminal profiler, either by spending several years in law enforcement or gaining hands-on experience as a psychiatrist or psychologist. To start out in law enforcement, apply to a local police academy or to the FBI academy. Most police departments accept candidates with just a high school diploma, though an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or a related field can help prepare you for the role. The FBI requires an undergraduate degree. If you want to approach profiling from the psychiatric side, obtain a doctorate in psychology, psychiatry, counseling or a related field.

Starting Out

There’s no direct route to becoming a criminal profiler. Agencies don’t advertise for these positions, but instead train current agents or officers in the specifics of behavioral science. Most criminal profilers work for the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes, which only recruits agents who have at least three years of experience at the bureau. Because of the intense competition for jobs in the unit, most have between 8 and 10 years of experience. Those with psychiatric backgrounds also can’t go straight into a criminal profiling role, but profiler Pat Brown says working in prisons or with victims can provide experience and connections.


Some state law enforcement agencies have their own behavioral science units, though securing a position as an officer or investigator doesn’t guarantee opportunities for profiling. However, you can move into a division that investigates violent crimes such as homicides and after several years you might qualify for a profiling role. The FBI prefers special agents with experience handling violent crimes such as homicide, rape and child abduction. If you’re a psychologist instead of a law enforcement professional, establish your reputation by working in private practice, at a university or within the criminal justice system.

Other Considerations

Even if you can’t immediately find a full-time profiling job, you can work at a behavioral science unit in a support role such as researcher or analyst. If you already work in law enforcement, you can pursue additional training through the International Criminal Investigative Analysis Fellowship. The program is open to sworn law enforcement professionals with at least 10 years of basic police work experience and at least two years of experience investigating violent crimes. The fellowship includes training, an internship and certification.

Day in the Life

A day in the life of a criminal profiler can be exciting, challenging, and very thought-provoking. When a crime is committed, law enforcement contacts profilers and requests their presence at the crime scene. Profilers start by going through and examining all the evidence found at the crime scene. They analyze the crime scene from top to bottom and interview victims and witnesses.

Profilers use all this information to discover any patterns that might match specific crimes or criminals. In addition to creating a profile for a suspect, a criminal profiler will also conduct research on criminals and criminology to learn more about their patterns and behavior. They also interview convicted criminals, go through old cases and write reports on criminal behavior patterns.

While they spend some time in an office, researching online or inputting data, criminal profilers spend a lot of time out in the field. They are also called into court to testify in court cases. Criminal profilers are often the ones that provide the best information needed to narrow down the suspect list and solve a crime.

Criminal profilers used to be used only for specific crimes, but today they are used to profile offenders in various crimes, including kidnapping, arson, cybercrime, hostage-taking, extortion, child abduction, murder, kidnapping, and serial sexual homicide, among others. Profiling that is performed for the FBI is often called investigation psychology, crime action profiling, and criminal investigative analysis.

Licensure, Certifications, and Continuing Ed

In most states, private detectives and criminal investigators, the category in which the BLS puts profilers, are required to have a license. Each state has its own licensing requirements so candidates are advised to check the requirements for the state in which they wish to work. Information can be found through the Professional Investigator Magazine.

Although certification may be helpful, it is not required for profilers. Criminal profilers are required to keep up with training. The FBI requires that it be an ongoing thing. The continuing education may be in the way of reading relevant materials, taking courses, or completing extra case consultations. Several programs allow the profiler to obtain training at different times in his or her career. The more training the profiler has, the better he or she will be on the job.

how to become a criminal profiler without being a cop –

If you want to become a criminal profiler, but don’t want to be a cop, you’re in luck! There are other careers for people who want to study and profile criminals—and these jobs can be just as exciting and rewarding as being an FBI agent.

A criminal profiler is someone who studies crimes and criminals in order to help law enforcement find them and track them down. Profilers work with police departments, the FBI, and other agencies to determine what kind of person might have committed a crime, where they might live, what their family situation is like, etc. Profilers might study patterns of behavior or speech patterns in order to identify the offender’s characteristics; they may look at crime scene evidence or talk with victims or witnesses to get more information about what happened; they might even interview convicted criminals who have been identified as possible suspects by other means (such as DNA testing).

It’s important to note that criminal profiling isn’t just about figuring out who committed a specific crime—it’s also about understanding why people commit crimes at all. This means that profilers will often interview offenders themselves in order to learn about their motivations for committing crimes so that law enforcement officials can better understand how best

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