What Is Criminal Profiling?

What is a Criminal profiler? Many people have mistaken what a real profiler does and who they are. They are not the normal person that works for the police; there is more to a criminal profiler than you might think. Catching serial killers and murderers is a 24 hour job for many of the profilers that work for law enforcement or the FBI. Some ask the question “How do I become a Criminal Profiler”? The road isn’t easy but once you reach this career goal it is more worth it than you think. Learning more about this profession will help you want to learn more and more about whom? What? Where? How? There is so much information out there on how to become a criminal profiler and what a criminal profiler really does. The information helps open a whole new world to what Criminal Profiling really entails.

What is profiling? Criminal Profiling was very well known by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), though a criminal profiler in the FBI doesn’t technically exists they are recognized in the FBI. Whataa‚¬a„?s in a profile? Generally a profile consists primarily of, age, and previous convictions that were likely to be possessed by the unknown offender of the crimes being committed. This became more sophisticated in two ways, such as, Profiles were used to create a shorter list of potential suspects, also it helped focus investigations, and help create a more stable interview technique. The potential forms that a profile can take, in which it can be used within a criminal investigation have expanded in recent years. (Nov 2, 2008 Granfalloons and Gobbledygook pg. 1)

Best services for writing your paper according to Trustpilot

Premium Partner
From $18.00 per page
4,8 / 5
Writers Experience
Recommended Service
From $13.90 per page
4,6 / 5
Writers Experience
From $20.00 per page
4,5 / 5
Writers Experience
* All Partners were chosen among 50+ writing services by our Customer Satisfaction Team

Criminal profiling is used many times to eliminate suspects and identify future criminals. A criminal profile is not always pertinent when traditional investigative methods have failed to solve a murder. Mr. Brubaker a retired FBI agent explained the elements that go into a criminal profile. A criminal profile consists of the psychological and behavioral characteristics of a murder according to a lot of information gathered from other Criminals. (April 13, 2005 Larry Brubaker pg. 1) This profile includes:

Age, behavioral age, mental status, intellectual ability, scholastic achievement

Lifestyle, rearing environment, social adjustment, personality, demeanor,

Appearance and grooming

Intellectual adjustment, mental adjustment, employment history, work ability,

Residency in relation to the crime(s)

Social Economic Status, sexual adjustment, sexual perversions, arrest record and

Possible motive

(April 13, 2005 Larry Brubaker pg. 1)

Another source of research and development on criminal profiling is the Investigative Support Unit, started as the “Behavioral Science Unit” in the late 1950’s, by two FBI employees. This is a part of the National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) this is very important to the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG), these agents train in behavioral studies. There is an immense amount of data on family characteristics and serial murderers kept in this unit. (ISU) has specific training to professionals such as detectives, psychologists, and lawyers from all walks of life. (May 5, 2010 Criminal Profiling Research Site pg. 1)

Assessing the behavior of any unknown suspect is always vital to separate their “Modus Operandi” from their “Signature”. Modus Operandi is what an offender has to do, in their mind, to accomplish a crime. A Signature is something the offender has to do to fulfill himself emotionally. The signature makes the crime typical and distinguishable (May 5, 2010 Criminal Profiling Research Site pg 4-5)

Criminal Profiling is used by behavioral scientists and the police to predict the suspects who possess certain behavioral and personality traits. The primary goal is to aid local police in limiting and refining their suspect list. To go proactive, which means letting the public, become partners in crime solving? The public becomes more aware of people around them, and close to them. The public has been known to help police and other agencies find the ones they are looking for. The police keep a close relationship with the public just so that in case they need to find someone they are able to do it in a more calm and civilized way. (May 5, 2010 Criminal Profiling Research Site pg. 2)

Fun Fact

Personality profiles are based on the way a crime is committed, also known as the “Method of Operations” or M.O. The M.O consists of several things such as the Identity and commonality of the victims. Analyzing the crime scene, an investigator can determine the motives of the suspect, which leads to a description of the suspect’s personality. (May 5, 2010 Criminal Profiling Forensic Psychology pg. 1).

Criminal profiling exists to the work for the FBI, Brent Turvey created the “Behavioral Evidence Analysis”(BEA) in response to his analysis of “Things such as the fact that offenders will lie about their actions, and that sometimes the most objective record of what happened in a criminal event is a reconstruction of offender behavior”(Petherick, 1999). Turvey’s BEA is the analysis of the crime in four ways: Equivocal Forensic Analysis, Victimology, Crime Scene Characteristics, and offender Characteristics. This method is used in crime when the identity of the offender is known and unknown. (Brent Turvey 1997 pg. 3)

Who can be Criminal Profilers?

Criminal Profilers are Psychiatrists that are doctors of medicine who have postgraduate training in psychiatry. Psychologists have undergraduate and post graduate degrees in their specialist area. Police officers who profile work have studied psychology as a postgraduate. (May 5, 2010 John Mcklean “A Knol” pg. 1-2). If you want to become a criminal profiler, you are able to become one if you put your mind to it. Anyone who is willing to get the education and the experience is able to become a Criminal Profiler. Even though you achieve the title of profiler, you are always learning everyday and you are experiencing so many new theories and things that you never thought possible.

When you have the abilities and the experience you can become anything you choose to be, not only psychiatrists and psychologists are criminal profilers, they are the most likely candidates that become profilers, but that isn’t always the case. Many come from law enforcement and other related fields. When you have the determination to become a profiler that is how you can achieve to become one.

FBI Crime Scene Analysis Steps

In the FBI there are steps that are followed that help them put all the information into a conclusion? The FBI has been around for a long time and they have come up with the FBI crime scene analysis that has six steps: (n.d Criminal Profiling Forensic Psychology pg. 2)

1. Profiling Inputs: This is basically a collection of all evidence.

2. Decision Process Models: The evidence is arranged to locate patterns.

3. Crime Assessment: The evidence is organized, the crime scene is reconstructed.

4. Criminal Profile: The first 3 steps are used in creating a criminal profile incorporating the motives, physical qualities, and personality of the perpetrator.

5. The Investigation: The profile is given to investigators on the case and to organizations that may have data leading to the identification of a suspect.

6. The Apprehension: This stage only occurs in about 50% of cases.

( n.d Criminal Profiling Forensic Psychology pg. 2)

With the steps above the FBI is able to come up with a pretty accurate profile and they are able to gather more information and have a direction to go in. With knowing the pattern and the collection of evidence along with all the other steps they are able to complete a profile that will lead to the serial killer or murderer. Not always does step 6 occur, but it is more probable when there is a complete profile and the law enforcement is going in the right and probable direction.

Expert Profilers

Dr. Schurman-Kauffin a world renowned expert criminal profiler has studied and investigated serial killers for over 20 years. Dr. Schurman-Kauffin has profiled hundreds of serial murderers, aberrant sex crimes, sadistic murders, serial rapes, stalking, abductions, and many other unusual cases. Dr. Schurman-Kauffin is highly regarded for providing specialized training on criminal profiling to the police agencies. She has trained over 2,000 FBI, State, Homicide/Sex crimes detectives, and Attorney General Investigators. She holds a B.S., M.S. in criminal justice and a Ph.D. in criminal justice/forensic science. Dr. Schurman-Kauffin was credited for profiling the BTK serial killer. She also correctly predicted Mumbai India terrorist attacks in 2006. (2008 Dr.Schurman-Kauffin PhD pg 1-2)

Katherine Ramsland conducted an interview with Gregg O. McCrary one of the world’s most experienced profilers. With a background in criminal justice and psychology, Gregg O. McCrary conducted research on violent offenders, and after the (NCAVC 1985), he went on to analyzing crime scenes and offender “signatures” in constructing behavioral profiles and teaching the complexities of threat assessment. McCrary consulted on over a thousand domestic and international cases that involved homicide or sexual assault. As an international expert on violence, McCrary’s insights are derived from many years of experience. He was also well known in many different agencies for his work with criminal profiling. ( n.d Gregg O. McCrary Interview pg 1).

Many people ask if they have the right kind of mind for criminal profiling, Pat Brown is a Criminal profiler and she believes that a good profiler has a very wide amount of abilities. She says that a very realistic view of human beings bordering on cynical, not without empathy, an ability to spot lairs and frauds, and the belief that all of us have the ability to think like a serial killer or criminal to some degree. To have enough life experience and not be surprised at human behavior in bizarre sex acts. She also believes that you need a good sense of humor, a healthy lifestyle, and you should be in excellent mental health. Pat Brown suggests that in order to gain some experience would be to accept any work in related fields is a must. The experience you learn when working in related fields will help you out and give you a broad perspective on certain situations and a better understanding. (2005 Pat Brown Profiler pg. 1-2).

These experts have a lot of experience; they are well educated in the specific field they are in. They both are in high regard with the police and many other agencies. Profiling is there passion and they do it very well and they have a lot of research under their belt. They give a lot of time to research so that criminal profiling becomes very useful in apprehending serial killers and murderers. These experts have a lot of experience with almost every department of law enforcement and they familiarize themselves with every aspect of law, in order to have a wide range of profiling. Many say that the littlest detail is sometimes the biggest detail” that is why the most experienced profilers are very knowledgeable in all departments of law.

How Much a Criminal Profiler Makes?

The salary of a criminal profiler depends, on experience. In order to become a profiler you must also achieve many different certificates and degrees that will create a higher pay scale. It also may depend on your specialty area such as if you became a forensic psychologist with less than a one year’s experience you can expect a salary from $34,000 to $60,984. If you have five to nine years of experience, the range goes up to $46,176 to $82,895. And with 10 or more years in the field, as a forensic psychologist you see salaries in the range of $59,780 to $106,125. There are Jobs that exist in law enforcement at the state and local level, criminal profilers also work in universities, and research facilities. They may choose to work independently as consultants. (n.d Article by Randy Craig pg. 1)

Most Profilers do start off as working with law enforcement, and many times they branch out and work independently. The experience that you obtain working as an independent consultant for the FBI or police or any other agency is immensely more than if working in a department. The independent profiler is able to work more flexible and inconspicuously, but it does come with limits as far as the law Is involved, but you are able to work with every aspect of the law, verses having to follow certain departments and sticking with only some information and following rank.

With any job you have to be dedicated and willing to make sacrifices, when one starts a career in profiling you are going to give up a lot. Criminal profilers are said to have one goal in mind and that is to put criminals in jail. Many people have different reasons for becoming a profiler, one being that it is a fascinating and very well rounded career choice and the other is for the money and the adrenalin rush you get when you catch a criminal. Criminal Profilers are at times working 24 hours a day and no days off until the case is solved, that can take a toll on any kind of personal life. Profilers have to like to do their job and give 100% all the time on the job because that is what it will take to become a profiler.

Fun Fact

There is a lot involved in becoming a Criminal profiler, but in the long run it turns out to be very helpful and useful in this line of work. The T.V show “Criminal Minds” gives you a brief setting on what a criminal profiler for the FBI does. Of course, it is over exaggerated and over dramatic, but it does give you a sense of what is to be expected out of a criminal profiler. This show gives the type of lifestyle a criminal profiler will hope to expect and it gives the aspiring profiler a new appreciation on how much time and effort goes into catching a criminal and being able to profile an unknown person.

Though TV shows try to portray the real job, it isn’t as real as the real thing, In real life there are so many challenges that a profiler faces and sometimes it isn’t easily solved like in the show. It sometimes takes days even months to get a full profile on a criminal and though they have all the evidence, it sometimes takes more to complete the profile. Once they have all the information they need they put together a profile and they apprehend there criminal.


Criminal profiling is used because it “works” in many cases around the world; it is very much used in many cases and is very affective. Police have a high respect for criminal profiling; it helps them apprehend criminals faster and in a more efficient way. The way a criminal profiler works is in a unique and efficient way, they take one little detail of someone’s life and turn it into something of relevance in the case. To think outside the box and to be able to think in all different directions is important in becoming a successful profiler. According to many experts having the experience and the education will be the most helpful in this career field if you choose this path of course.

The more I learn about Criminal Profilers the more my interest heightens, I am more in tune with what is involved with becoming a profiler. The sacrifices you would have to make and the long hours along with the things you see and experience along the way. The world needs criminal profilers so that it helps keep all the criminals in line. Profilers have a hard task at keeping the serial killers and murderers off the streets, but they do it well and I hope to be as good as or maybe better than they are so I can join the ranks of Criminal Profilers.

You Might Also Like

I'm Alejandro!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out