Crime Analyst Career Guide

Crime analysts gather, compile, and interpret data from crime reports to determine trends in a particular geographical area. The crime analyst helps law enforcement agencies and detectives focus on areas of concern, growing problems, and geographical areas in a particular jurisdiction where crime prevention techniques appear to be ineffective. This guide provides information about what crime analysts do, requirements for the position, and the career outlook for crime analysts.

Crime Analyst Career Description, Duties, and Common Tasks

Crime analysts use data collection and mapping software to compile information received from police reports. The data is used to create reports and recommendations for crime prevention and response techniques. The crime analyst helps the agency identify areas that need additional attention, determine training and equipment needs for the department, and help administration develop sound, appropriate budgets for the departments. Data is also used to help identify characteristics that are similar for multiple criminal acts to help identify offenders and modes of operation.

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How to Become a Crime Analyst: Requirements and Qualifications

Candidates, who may either be civilians or sworn law enforcement officers, must meet several qualification requirements, including having:

  • A minimum of a bachelor’s degree
  • A strong working knowledge of geographical software programs and the compilation and interpretation of data
  • Completed specialized training in the software use in research and statistical methods
  • The ability to communicate effectively with a diverse group of people, including law enforcement agencies and the public.

Some agencies require crime analysts to be state certified or to have prior experience in law enforcement. A polygraph test and criminal background check may also be required to be hired as a criminal analyst.

Crime Analyst Job Training

Much of the training for a crime analyst takes place on the job. Since not all people who become crime analysts will have specialized training in the field or a criminal justice degree, they learn as they go, sharpening their investigative skills as they analyze more and more crimes. Newer crime analysts will likely work with a more experienced person for some time as they get accustomed to the job. This way, they can learn processes and procedures to help them identify trends and patterns in crime before they are doing it on their own.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

Additional qualities that are helpful for prospective crime analysts include strong critical thinking skills, in order to accurately analyze and interpret crime data, a desire to make their jurisdiction a safer place by decreasing crime rates, and good communicators, able to discuss their findings with many different types of people and to write their findings in clear reports. They should possess sharp attention to detail and persistence. Prior experience in law enforcement or in investigation may be beneficial for new crime analysts.

Examples of Possible Job Titles for this Career

  • Criminal Intelligence Analyst
  • Criminal Intelligence Analyst Supervisor
  • Criminal Intelligence Specialist
  • Criminal Research Specialist
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Intelligence Officer
  • Intelligence Research Specialist

Career Opportunities and Employers

Crime analysts most commonly work for medium or large law enforcement agencies, since many smaller law enforcement agencies do not have the budget or the size to support a crime analysis department. In some cases, police officers are trained and appointed as crime analysts.

Crime Analyst Salary and Outlook

The salary for crime analysts depends on experience, education level, and geographic location. The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t provide salary data for this occupation, but O*NET Online reports that crime analysts earned a median salary of $76,730 in 2013.1 Many small departments do not have crime analysts due to budget constraints. According to O*NET, the job outlook for crime analysts is neutral, with a 0% growth projected by 2022.1. The demand for crime analysis, however, is also affected by the growth in crime information that can be collected by computers and the internet. As data analysis plays a greater role in law enforcement and is an important part of criminal justice innovations like COMPSTAT, Problem-Oriented Policing, and Intelligence-Led Policing, the need for jobs in crime analysis should continue to increase.2

Frequently Asked Questions About This Career

Do I need a degree to be a crime analyst?
Not necessarily. While most crime analyst jobs do require a bachelor’s degree, not every law enforcement agency requires a bachelor’s degree. However, a bachelor’s degree, especially a criminal justice degree, will be a huge asset for prospective crime analysts, especially those without prior law enforcement experience.

What kind of hours do crime analysts work?
As with most law enforcement careers, crime analysts often work after-hours, evening or night shifts, since they must always be available to analyze crime data. Even if they have normal business hours, they may need to be on call on nights or weekends.

Additional Resources

The International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) – The IACA is an organization that exists to help crime analysts improve their skills by offering training, networking and publications for people in the profession.

Community Oriented Police Services (COPS) – The COPS website has publications available to help crime analysts do their jobs more effectively.

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References:
1. O*NET Online: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3021.06
2. Portland State University: http://online.ccj.pdx.edu/crime-analysis/

Page Edited by Charles Sipe.