Psychological/Criminal Profiler

Psychological profiling, also known as behavioral, criminal personality, and criminal profiling, is a method used by criminal investigators to develop profiles for murders, rapists, and other violent criminals who haven't been apprehended.

Most psychological profilers are FBI special agents. These specialists typically work in Quantico, VA at the National Analysis of Violent Crime. Psychological profilers are responsible for developing psychological profiles for violent criminals who haven't been identified, advising law enforcement agencies about potential threats, teaching local police departments how to identify criminal behavior indicators, and managing cases.

Psychological profilers not working for the FBI typically work as statisticians or criminologists at universities and colleges. They usually work part-time as profilers, but many are now profiling and investigating on a full-time basis.

Many profilers investigate unsolved cases, known as cold cases. When investigating unsolved crimes, psychological profilers interview the family members of murder victims, review police files, and interview people who may have seen the perpetrator. Psychological profilers usually conduct cold case investigations from their personal offices, but when police departments will not permit investigators to remove files from the department, they complete a lot of work at the police station. Cooperative police departments often ship case files to profilers. Psychological profilers investigating cold cases often visit crime scenes when it's pertinent to their investigation.

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If you're interested in psychological profiling, many law enforcement agencies recruit profilers with investigative, counseling, and criminal justice backgrounds. It's recommended to double major in psychology and criminal justice as an undergraduate and obtain some investigative experience. To enhance job opportunities, study psychology as an undergraduate and obtain a graduate degree in criminology, in addition to completing some graduate-level psychology courses. Since there are few psychological profiling jobs available, it might be difficult finding a job after you graduate.

The AAFS website posts forensic science job openings throughout the United States.

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