Crime analysts have the responsibility to predict and prevent crime. Their work is multifaceted and involves many different types of tasks. In general, they study crime and profile suspects. They analyze crime data in order to determine when particular crimes will occur. They strengthen the efficiency of law enforcement by communicating their findings on crime patterns to detectives and other officers in the field. Crime analysts typically work in police departments, but most are not police officers. They do not inspect crime scenes or evidence, but instead work on a computer analyzing crime-related data from police reports.
Crime analysts work in one of three areas: tactical, strategic, or administrative. Tactical crime analysts focus on crimes that pose an immediate threat such as rape, burglary, robbery, and serial murders. They determine patterns for these crimes by tying together certain factors and then reporting their findings to detectives who can prevent the crimes from occurring. Strategic crime analysts make decisions regarding various levels of police presence to prevent crime. Administrative crime analysts present special reports to chiefs of police and city councils, give speeches on crime prevention, write grants to increase their agency's budget, and study criminal relationships and organizations.
Crime analysts must have the ability to manage numerous details at the same time and make connections between multiple factors . They should have a strong analytical aptitude. They also need to be able to deal effectively with people because they are often called upon to present their findings to officers, detectives, administrators, and politicians.
Crime analysts who are starting out in the profession and have little experience earn between $1,900 and $2,500 per month. Those who have gained experience earn between $2,600 and $3,000 per month. Experienced crime analysts may earn $3,300 to $4,200 per month.
Training and Education
Most crime analyst jobs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree with majors in Criminal Justice, Psychology, or Sociology. A few police agencies require only two years of college and two years of experience. Some agencies require their applicants to complete a certificate program approved by the state Department of Justice before becoming eligible for employment. Most police departments require at least one year of experience, usually in dealing with criminal information or in analytical information processing in an area unrelated to law enforcement. Knowledge of law enforcement can be a major advantage in the hiring process. Some applicants who do not have any work experience may be required to complete a 400-hour practicum in addition to holding their degree or certificate. This practicum program takes the form of an internship in a crime analysis unit. Many crime analysts enter the occupation at the supervisory or management level. Crime analysts who accumulate enough experience in an agency may become senior or supervising analysts.
According to the International Association of Crime Analysts, the demand for crime analysts has risen ten-fold in the last 15 years. The occupation is subject to changes in State budgets and levels of Federal grants, but funding is expected to increase because of more public concern regarding crime and safety. As funding for law enforcement agencies increases, so will the job opportunities for qualified crime analysts.
To learn more about becoming a crime analyst, please visit our section on schools offering Legal Training for more information.