If you are exploring high-level criminal justice job opportunities, you may have considered roles such as forensic scientist or police investigator. However, one role you may not have much prior knowledge of is that of a crime analyst. What is a crime analyst and what does a crime analyst do?
Crime analysis and criminal profiling is not a new field, although for many decades only large precincts in metropolitan areas had room in their budgets for criminologists to perform these tasks. Yet, positions for criminal investigative analyst professionals have become more common and may now be found in both rural and urban areas.1
Explore a typical crime analyst job description below and consider pursuing an undergraduate law degree.
In This Article:
- What Does a Crime Analyst Do?
- Crime Analyst Job Description
- Education Requirements for a Criminal Investigative Analyst
- Required Work Experience for Crime Analysis
- Traits and Characteristics of Effective Crime Analysts
What Does a Crime Analyst Do?
Crime analysts are not usually law enforcement officers. However, they often work alongside law enforcement personnel. Their goal is to solve open cases, reduce the risk of future crimes and educate the public about crime prevention and criminal trends.
As with many criminal justice jobs, the job of a crime analyst is heavily focused on research. It involves studying patterns and trends in criminal behavior. This research is often used to develop crime prevention programs. In other cases, crime analysts directly contribute to the identification of suspects.
Some crime analysts may also produce scholarly works that explain their findings to assist their counterparts in enforcement organizations around the world. For example, some professionals may contribute reports to the International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA).2
Crime Analyst Job Description
A crime analyst is a criminal justice professional who is responsible for supporting the efforts of law enforcement agencies in both a proactive and reactive way. Crime analysts evaluate quantitative and qualitative data related to criminal activity, the community and the police department to identify trends and patterns. Their work involves analysis of the following:3
- Crime and criminals
- Victims of crimes
- Quality of life issues in the community
- Traffic issues
- Internal police operations
In reviewing this data, crime analysts seek to identify ways of supporting police investigations and prosecutions, making patrol activities more efficient and effective, identifying crime prevention strategies for the community and evaluating the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts. Crime analysts do not visit crime scenes themselves; rather, they work in an office setting.
Crime analysts can work for any level of law enforcement — from local precincts to state police to federal enforcement agencies, including the FBI. A typical crime analyst job description may vary from one department to the next. In general, however, these professionals may perform any of the following tasks:3
- Use crime-mapping technology, police reports and other raw data to develop a better understanding of criminal behaviors and trends
- Advise law enforcement officers about criminal behavior and trends
- Identify crime hot spots and advise on the allocation of police resources
- Identify emerging challenges in criminology and develop suggestions for strategic responses
- Develop charts, maps and other materials for use by the prosecution in criminal trials
- Create crime bulletins, summaries and risk assessments, and develop forecasts of future crime trends
- Develop course materials and train law enforcement and intelligence staff on crime data analytics
However, crime analysts do not focus solely on trends. They also work on specific cases. They review the raw data and analyze evidence and crime scenes. Based on their findings, crime analysts can develop a psychological profile of a suspect. This is known as criminal profiling.
When profiling a criminal, a crime analyst will consider possible personality traits and psychopathologies as well as demographic information, such as likely age and geographic location. These insights can help investigators narrow down the suspect list and bring the criminal to justice.
Education Requirements for a Criminal Investigative Analyst
Your path toward a career in crime analysis can begin with a bachelor’s degree. There is no one universal choice. For example, you could earn an undergraduate law degree. Consider using your electives to take courses in data analytics.
Unlike many other careers in law enforcement, a bachelor’s degree may be a minimum qualification to pursue a career as a crime analyst.3 Earning your master’s degree in a criminal justice program may help you position yourself for career advancement.3 During the course of your studies, you will have the opportunity to examine the following key topics:
- Criminal behavior analysis
- Crime analysis and case management
- Law and public policy
- Organizational behavior and leadership
- Strategic analysis and organizational planning
In addition, you can expect to examine the role and specific applications of professional ethics and ethical decision-making in this field. Some specific skills you will be taught include the science of criminal profiling, personality assessment, research methods and the development of effective crime prevention programs in communities. These skills can serve you well as you pursue a career in crime analysis and criminal profiling.
Required Work Experience for Crime Analysis
As you work through your graduate degree program, you might consider exploring relevant internship opportunities. Besides offering useful experience, these are a possible source of professional connections that can help you land your desired job after graduation.
Note that crime analysts are often non-sworn members of law enforcement agencies. However, in some organizations, crime analysts are expected to be sworn members of the agency. If the position you desire is as a sworn member, you can expect to go through police academy training. You might also be expected to work as a law enforcement officer for a few years to acquire experience in the field before progressing to the specialized role of crime analyst.3
Traits and Characteristics of Effective Crime Analysts
Your master’s degree in criminal justice can help support your work as a crime analyst. However, it is also helpful to work on developing certain professional characteristics and skills.
Crime analysts spend a great deal of time on solitary research pursuits, but they must also frequently collaborate with other professionals. It is helpful to have good communication skills. In addition, crime analysts are trusted with sensitive information, so a strong sense of professional ethics is critical.
In addition, the following skills and characteristics are useful:3
- Time management
- Commitment to continual professional education and development
- Analytical reasoning
- Critical thinking
- Attention to detail
- Ability to think outside the box
You can pursue a career as a crime analyst by earning your master’s degree online at Grand Canyon University (GCU). Apply to enroll in GCU’s Master of Science in Criminal Justice program with an Emphasis in Law Enforcement, where you will have the opportunity to gain crucial skills in strategic planning, crime prevention and risk management.
You can also choose to pursue an online or in-person bachelor’s degree to help you prepare for a master’s degree program. Explore the many Criminal Justice, Public Administration and Government Degree Programs GCU offers. Complete the form on this page to get started.
1 Singer, S., Drakulich, K. (2018, October 8). Crime and Safety in Suburbia. Annual Reviews. Retrieved June 8, 2023.
2 International Association of Crime Analysts. (n.d.). About Crime Analysis. Retrieved June 8, 2023.
3 Winslow, M. (n.d.). Complete Guide to Becoming a Crime Analyst. Go Law Enforcement. Retrieved June 8, 2023.
Approved by the assistant dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on June 26, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.