How Do You Become a Criminal Profiler?

To become a criminal profiler, you must fulfill some basic pre-requisites, achieve certain job requirements and create a unique and competitive resume. This already prestigious position was made even more popular by recent hit television shows like “Criminal Minds” and “The Profiler,” so this field is highly competitive. Working as an FBI profiler in the behavioral analysis unit comes with some incredible benefits including a generous salary and interesting field work, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it is one of the most sought-after careers in the field of criminal justice.

Basic Pre-Requisites

The first step in becoming a criminal profiler involves gaining experience as a police officer, FBI special agent or another type of law enforcement agent. Nearly all U.S. law enforcement agencies set forth a list of basic pre-requisites that you must fulfill to be considered for employment. You should check with the agency you are interested in applying to and verify that you meet all pre-requisites. These typically include being a United States citizen, holding a valid driver’s license, meeting age requirements, lacking a criminal record and meeting educational requirements. An extensive background check will be conducted to verify your eligibility. To become an FBI special agent, you must hold a four-year degree and have at least three years of similar professional work experience, according to the FBI.

Job Requirements

Once you have met all the basic pre-requisites and gained some experience in law enforcement, then you can begin focusing on the job requirements specific to criminal profiling positions. An FBI profiler must already have a strong background in law enforcement or previous experience as an FBI special agent. Criminal profiling involves a level of field work, so profilers must meet certain physical fitness criteria. In addition, profilers are expected to attend conferences, maintain knowledge of significant cases, discuss various crimes with other law enforcement personnel and utilize their unique expert analysis on a case-by-case basis. Advanced degrees are not required to be accepted into the FBI’s coveted Behavioral Analysis Unit, but most profilers hold a variety of degrees in areas like criminal justice, psychology, math and political science. If you are lucky enough to be accepted into the BAU profiling program, then you still need to undergo a three-year training period before becoming an independent FBI Profiler.

Make Yourself Competitive

Applicants must undergo one of the most extensive and selective processes to become an expert criminal profiler. The most important factor for prospective profilers to consider is building a unique and competitive resume and skill set. With so many potential candidates to choose from, recruiters will look for what sets you apart from everyone else. Not all BAU profilers are FBI agents. It is possible to work as a civilian contractor and specialist with the unit, but such a position is rare and typically requires advanced degrees and an impressive professional experience record. While a strong law enforcement background is preferred, many profilers have experience in counseling or forensic psychology.

Related Resource: What is a CIA Analyst?

The act of criminal profiling is rooted in knowledge developed by forensic psychologists, psychiatrists and criminologists, according to the American Psychological Association. While the FBI’s main focus is on investigative experience, there are many different routes that can be taken to contribute to a criminal profiling unit. The most important steps to become a criminal profiler include fulfilling the basic pre-requisites, meeting job requirements and creating a unique and competitive resume.