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What do criminology graduates do?

February 2024

From social work to research, a criminology degree equips graduates for careers beyond the traditional law enforcement route

Criminology graduates pursue a variety of career paths. Full-time work was  the most common destination (58.2%), while 11% found work in part-time roles - according to the latest  Graduate Outcomes data, which records the activities of 2020/21 graduates 15 months after graduation.

They found employment in various sectors, such as:

  • Policing
  • Welfare and housing
  • Retail and sales
  • Human resources
  • Protective services
  • Education.

A small percentage of criminology graduates were unemployed (5.7%). This is actually slightly higher than the average for all graduates (5%), but it is important to recognise that this figure remains low.

Destination 15 months after graduation,Percentage of criminology graduates
Full-time employment,58.2
Part-time employment,11.1
Further study,6.3
Employment and further study,11.6

Further study

Some criminology graduates chose to pursue further study (6.3%) or worked while studying (11.6%), and the majority of these were doing a Masters course. The courses were often in vocational subjects such as social work, teaching and law conversions, but some continued their studies in criminology to enhance their knowledge and pursue further academic research.

Type of further study,Percentage of criminology graduates in further study
Masters (such as MA or MSc),59.2
Professional qualification,15
Postgraduate diploma or certificate (including PGCE/PGDE),13.3

Several of these graduates studied for professional qualifications, such as the Legal Practice Course (LPC), which expands their opportunity for employment in legal sector.


Criminology graduates enter a variety of sectors, drawing on the diverse range of skills they develop during their studies. Retail and sales jobs were popular with 17.3% of this cohort working in these roles. Although not directly related to their degree, these graduates often acquire valuable skills including customer service and communication, which are highly sought after in this field.

They also gravitate towards clerical, secretarial, and administrative positions (16.7%), as well as legal, social, and welfare jobs (16.5%).

Occupations of 2020/21 criminology graduates
OccupationsPercentage of criminology graduates in work
Retail, waiting and other customer service17.3%
Clerical, secretarial, administrative16.7%
Legal, social, welfare16.5%
Other professionals11.5%
Childcare, health, education occupations8.7%
Business, HR and finance8.4%
Other occupations4.2%
Marketing, PR, sales3.8%
Skilled trades, crafts and other vocational occupations2.0%
Arts, design, media0.7%

Just over half of criminology graduates (51.1%) found themselves in professional-level employment, a figure below the overall graduate average of 75.5%, However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that success is subjective and graduates in non-professional roles may still be fulfilling their aspirations, be content with their salaries, and feel like they are making meaningful contributions. This is a snapshot of their activities 15 months after graduating.

Location of employment

Criminology graduates were working in various locations across the UK, with London accounting for the largest proportion at 17.7%. The North West was the second most common location, with areas like Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside being particularly popular. A few individuals found work in Kent, Hampshire, and Surrey, making the South East an appealing location.

Employment locations of 2020/21 criminology graduates
LocationPercentage of employed criminology graduates
North East 3.3% 
North West 14.0% 
Yorkshire and The Humber 10.2% 
East Midlands 8.0% 
West Midlands 8.0% 
East of England 7.9% 
London 17.7% 
South East 12.8% 
South West 7.7% 
Northern Ireland 1.9% 
Scotland 3.0% 
Wales 5.3% 
Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man 0.1% 


Criminology graduates who didn't pursue further study after graduation earn an average of £23,891, which is below the overall average for all graduates (£27,383).

The difference in salaries could be partially explained by the higher proportion of criminology graduates finding employment in retail and customer service sectors, where salaries tend to be comparatively lower.

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