Criminal Profiler: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Law enforcement agencies rely on criminal profilers to help them identify suspects in an investigation. Profilers use the details of a crime to determine the behavior pattern of the perpetrator, which can help identify suspects. Individuals who work as profilers typically have a degree in criminal justice, psychology or behavioral science.

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Job Description

Criminal profilers use psychology to help identify the behavioral patterns of criminals. They work closely with law enforcement to use the evidence from crime scenes and the testimony of witnesses to develop this psychological portrait of the suspect. This allows law enforcement officials to focus their search on suspects who fit this profile.

Job Duties

Criminal profilers review evidence at crime scenes to figure out how a crime took place. This evidence helps profilers determine details about a suspect such as the person's height and the dominant hand the perpetrator used during the crime. Criminal profilers may also work on older unsolved cases to develop a suspect profile in which law enforcement can use during an investigation.

Profilers may work within a police department, the federal government or independently as a consultant. They may research and analyze case files at the request of the police, attorneys or the families of crime victims, and then offer their opinion on the type of suspect they should be looking for.

Salary and Employment Outlook

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't have data specifically for criminal profilers, it stated employment for detectives and police officers was expected to increase by five percent from 2012 until 2022. The median salary for detectives and criminal investigators was $74,300, the BLS reported in May 2012.


Individuals who are interested in becoming a criminal profiler may want to obtain a bachelor's degree in psychology, social sciences, criminal justice or behavioral science. Degree programs in criminal justice are available with a concentration in forensic investigation that provides training in criminology, criminal procedures, law enforcement, criminal law, evidence gathering, social psychology and criminal investigation. Graduate degree programs in forensic psychology also provide the educational background needed to work as a profiler.

Individuals may also become a criminal profiler through the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI's Behavioral Science Unit offers training in criminal behavior, psychopathology, crisis management, death investigation management and criminology to law enforcement officers, .the U.S. military, new FBI agents and other personnel, government intelligence officers and others.

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