A criminologist must earn a master's degree or a doctorate before beginning her career. According to the State University web site, a criminologist's earnings vary depending on her job responsibilities and the size of the population she serves. A criminologist with a doctorate degree typically earns more than a criminologist with a master's degree. Experience affects the pay scale of a criminologist with a master's degree — experienced criminologists earn more than beginners.
Criminologist Salary Ranges
Beginning criminologists earn approximately $28,000 per year and experienced criminologists earn as much as $50,000 per year, according to StateUniversity.com. PayScale.com states that criminologists nationwide earn between $30,168 and $58,828 per year as of 2011, based on a survey with 35 respondents. MyPursuit.com states that criminologists working for state and local governments earn between $30,000 and $55,000 per year depending on education level and experience. The highest pay rates, obviously, go to criminologists with a doctorate degree.
Masters Degree vs. Doctorate Degree Criminologists
Criminologists usually earn at least a masters degree in either criminology, psychology or sociology before beginning work in the field of criminology. Only criminologists who plan to teach at the university level must earn a PhD degree in the field of criminology before becoming a professor. According to MyPursuit.com, criminologists to work in research and teaching earn between $32,270 and $66,460 annually. Criminologists with PhD degrees will take the highest pay rates within this range.
According to PayScale.com, 73 percent of criminologists get health insurance benefits, 53 per cent get dental benefits, 43 per cent get vision benefits and 27 percent of criminologists get no health benefits at all.
Highest Paying Criminology Professions
Some specialties of criminology pay better than others. According to StateUniversity.com, the highest salaries go to criminologists who work on crime prevention projects or function as police commissioners, prison administrators, or public/private agency administrators.
Some criminologists function as consultants. In this case, they are paid like a freelancer, on a project-by-project basis, rather than with a salary. Consultants typically work as self-employed individuals. Therefore, they are unlikely to get fringe benefits as a part of their pay package.
Job Outlook for Criminologists
The job outlook for criminologists is poor. New jobs in criminology depend on government funding for crime prevention projects, states MyPursuit.com. Most of the work opportunities for criminologists occurs in the field of education. Within education, most of the opportunities exist in the community college setting for criminology teachers.