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Crime Analyst Career Guide

Crime analysts gather, compile, and interpret data from crime reports to determine trends in a particular geographic area. The crime analyst helps law enforcement agencies and detectives focus on areas of concern, growing problems, and 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 agencies identify areas that need additional attention, determine training and equipment needs for the department, and help administrations 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 serial offenders and modes of operation. Crime analysts are highly involved in criminal justice innovations like COMPSTAT, Problem-Oriented Policing, and Intelligence-Led Policing.

How to Become a Crime Analyst: Requirements and Qualifications

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

  • A minimum of a bachelor’s degree
  • A strong working knowledge of data collection and analytical software programs and the compilation and interpretation of data
  • Completed specialized training in the use of software in research and statistics
  • The ability to communicate effectively with all groups, 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 criminal background check is typically 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 or a criminal justice degree, they may learn as they go, sharpening their investigative skills as they analyze more complex sets of data. 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.

Other Helpful Skills and Experience

Additional qualities that are helpful for prospective crime analysts include strong critical thinking skills, a desire to make their jurisdiction a safer place by decreasing crime rates, and strong writing skills to present their findings in reports that can be understood by law enforcement officials as well as laymen. 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 to large law enforcement agencies, since many smaller law enforcement agencies do not have the budget or the size to justify 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. According to O*Net OnLine, intelligence analysts in all fields earned a median salary of $77,210 in 2015.1 The job outlook for intelligence analysts is neutral, with 28,300 job openings anticipated through 2024.1.

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, is 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, evenings, and nights, since law enforcement agencies operate 24/7 and typically require officers and critical employees to be on-call.

Additional Resources

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References:
1. O*Net OnLine, Intelligence Analysts: http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/33-3021.06