Criminal profilers use evidence and psychological expertise to determine a potential suspect's characteristics. 

Any criminal profiler worth their salt will have an incredible eye for detail and the analytical skills to back it up. Above all, the job of a profiler is to notice things and apply deductive reasoning to them. They can be experts in human behavior, using their acute perception to spot subtle reactions and understand what has caused them. Sometimes the job will call for the PR expertise required to create a press release that may drive a criminal to action or the legal knowledge to help construct court documents and warrants.

Criminal profiling work may include...

  • Creating profiles of unidentified subjects
  • Tracking behavioral patterns as they relate to crimes
  • Conducting interviews to observe
  • Developing strategies for informing the media
  • Determining motives and potential for future criminal activity

Criminal profilers work with local law enforcement and state police detectives or with agencies like the FBI, which famously created the field of criminal and offender profiling with its Behavioral Science Unit.

This is a competitive job title; while some of that is thanks to pop culture depictions of criminal profilers, it's an aspirational career even within its own field, with some field agents and specialists working their way up to profiling over the course of many years.

Aspiring criminal profilers will need at least a Bachelor's degree to obtain the foundational knowledge and research skills they'll use on the job. An undergraduate focus in criminal justice, forensic sciences, or psychology helps, and it never hurts to have a specialized graduate degree in something like behavioral science or forensic psychology.

Be prepared to back up these credentials with training in forensics, crime scene investigation, criminal behavior analysis, and communications; these roles also require background checks, drug tests, and sometimes psychological screenings. You also can't have a criminal record; all of this is done to keep criminals from being the ones looking for criminals, although in popular media they will sometimes slip through the cracks. If you're prepared to undergo rigorous training, climb that ladder, and commit to the world of criminal profiling, this could be an interesting path to take.

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