What is a Criminal Profiler?

When one thinks of a criminal profile, images of popular characters such as Dr. Samantha Waters from The Profiler or Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs likely comes to mind. Although movies and television shows have brought the profession of crime profiling into public awareness, it’s important to separate fiction from fact in order to understand exactly what a criminal profiler job entails.

What is a Criminal Profiler?

A criminal profiler is an investigator who specializes in deductive and inductive reasoning to build a profile of a specific criminal based upon the characteristics of the crime that he or she has committed. Most profilers begin as law enforcement investigators and have degrees and training in psychology and forensic science as well as several years of experience in investigating violent crimes.

Criminal profilers will closely work with other criminal investigators and detectives, helping them establish suspects and leads of high-profile crimes. Profilers are responsible for the meticulous analyzation of information from the crime scenes, including reading reports from other forensic investigators, bloodstain analysts and ballistics experts in order to gather critical insights into the suspect’s identity. They also take into consideration other important details, including the condition of the crime scenes, communications from the suspect, the timing of crimes, the type of crimes, the choice of victims, the location of crimes and the manner in which the crimes were committed. Profilers will also look at other factors to determine the mental state, residence, race and age of a potential suspect.

Job Duties of a Criminal Profiler

There are many duties for which a criminal profiler is responsible, including visiting and analyzing crime scenes as well as reading reports from other analysts and investigators. In addition, a criminal profiler is often required to write reports and provide court testimony regarding the suspect, and the profiler will work with detectives and police officers while studying human characteristics and behaviors. Police will use the information given to them by the profiler to help narrow the search for suspects. In high-profile cases, particularly in ones with multiple victims over a period of time, criminal profilers are critical cogs in the criminal investigation.

How to Become a Criminal Profiler

Criminal profiling is included in the field of forensic psychology, and aspiring profilers must undergo extensive training education as well as years of experience in investigating violent crimes, according to the American Psychological Association. At minimum, a criminal profiler must have a master’s degree to work in the field, while most hold doctorates in behavioral sciences like psychology with specializations in criminal and human behavior. Criminal profiling requires the ability to deduce information from a variety of facts as well as strong critical thinking skills. While the profession itself involves extremely detail-oriented work, the profile must also be able to see the bigger picture as he or she pieces information together. Since criminal profiling is a highly competitive, fascinating field in which only the most qualified individuals are chosen, those wishing to enter this industry will need extensive investigative training and experience.

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Criminal profiling requires tremendous attention to detail and is a highly analytic field. The career itself can also be extremely intellectually stimulating, making it the perfect choice for individuals interesting in analyzing and studying deviant human behavior. In particular, people who enjoy problem solving and puzzles may find success in a career as a criminal profiler.