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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 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.

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.

Steps for Becoming a Crime Analyst

Candidates, who may either be civilians or sworn law enforcement officers, should be US citizens and typically have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, usually in criminal justice, criminology, criminal justice research, or criminal justice policy. Some crime analysis jobs may require prior experience. Check with the particular job posting for more specific information about the requirements. Prospective crime analysts should expect something similar to the following process:

  1. Attend a degree program and/or gain experience in a related field.*
  2. Become certified as a crime analyst.**
  3. Apply for a job as a crime analyst.
  4. Pass a background investigation.
  5. Be interviewed.
  6. Get hired as a crime analyst.
  7. Receive training on the job as a crime analyst.

*Check the job description for the job you are applying for to find out the exact educational and experience requirements.
**Optional. Some employers may require applicants to be certified, but be sure to check the job description for these details. Check the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA) website for more information about certification.

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 investigation may be beneficial for new crime analysts.

Possible Job Titles for This Career

  • Criminal Intelligence Analyst
  • Criminal Intelligence Analyst Supervisor
  • Criminal Intelligence Specialist
  • Criminal Research Specialist
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Intelligence Afficer
  • Intelligence Research Specialist

Crime Analyst Salary and Job 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.

Related Careers

Interested in a career similar to a crime analyst? Check out these related careers:

Crime Analyst Career Interviews

  • Jason R. Collins, Senior FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst and National Spokesperson for the FBI Intelligence Analysts Association

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Do I need a degree to be a crime analyst?

Answer: 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.

Question: What kind of hours do crime analysts work?

Answer: 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

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