Criminology graduates have gained an understanding of the causes and consequences of crime, criminal justice institutions and the processes that seek to reduce offending. They also have knowledge of human society, social groups and social structures. They are likely to be employed in the criminal justice system, community and voluntary organisations, security services, and advice and support services.


You will be well prepared for a career in criminal justice related roles, but you will also have a wide range of skills that are sought after by many employers:

  • information and data gathering and analysis
  • report writing and presentation skills
  • organisation and time management
  • equality and diversity awareness
  • critical thinking
  • problem solving

Job Descriptions

Graduates from Criminology courses often work in the following fields:

Probation Services Officer (PSO) - work with low risk offenders, supervising them through community or prison sentences and their rehabilitation. They liaise with other support agencies as required. You do not need a degree to become a PSO but you will need some relevant skills and experience, and will complete further training on the job. If you want to progress to Probation Officer you will need to study for a degree and diploma whilst working as a PSO.

Probation Officer - work to supervise and rehabilitate high risk offenders by enforcing the conditions of court orders and release licences. You will be employed initially as a PSO and undertake further training to become fully qualified. If you have a relevant degree (criminology, police studies, community or criminal justice) the postgraduate training is shorter. Once qualified you may want to take more responsibility, such as managing a team, or specialising in work with specific groups.

Prison officer - has responsibility for the security, supervision, training and rehabilitation of people committed to prison by the courts.

Police officerwork in partnership with the public and are in the front line in the fight against crime and the fear of crime

Other jobs where your degree will be useful include

  • Youth Offending Team Officer 
  • Immigration Officer
  • Further Education lecturer or Higher Education lecturer 
  • Social worker 
  • Community development worker 
  • Youth worker
  • Advice worker
  • Welfare rights adviser 
  • Charity officer 
  • Law related roles

You can find full job profiles for each of these roles and many more on Prospects. The National Careers Service also have detailed role profiles.

Finding Jobs

Finding vacancies depends on the specific area you want to work in. Trainee Probation Officer roles are advertised through Train to be a Probation Officer and Probation Services Officer roles are advertised by each regional Community Rehabilitation Company. Each police service sets its own recruitment and selection policy, and most prisons recruit directly. Try some of the resources in suggested links. Networking is a good way to build contacts and find out about opportunities. You can also search for vacancies on UniHub. More advice is available in Finding a Job.

Employers will expect you to have some practical experience of the criminal justice system, working with people affected by issues of crime, or other vulnerable groups of people. So, you need to consider whether you want to work directly with people on the 'frontline' of services. 

Gaining Work Experience

Most employers look for applicants with work experience, whether it is paid or voluntary. Look for opportunities in youth and community work, youth offending teams, mental health services or substance misuse services. Working with adults in an advisory or education related capacity would also be helpful. You may even find graduate opportunities through the organisations you work with.

Current Issues in the Sector

Employers expect graduates to keep up to date on the latest issues affecting the sector. To keep abreast of the issues affecting your chosen sector read the sector specific pages of the broadsheet newspapers and refer to the professional associations. As well as advertising vacancies, professional journals can help you to keep up to date with the industry news and can even help you to identify organisations to whom you could make speculative job applications. Try the British Journal of Criminology, British Journal of Community Justice and Probation Journal

Further Study

For some occupations you will need to do further study, examples include Social Work, Teaching or taking a Law Conversion course. Look at the relevant subject pages and postgraduate study section.

Last modified: 
Friday, November 16, 2018 - 10:24