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What does a FBI Profiler do?

By Erin Oxendine
Updated: Mar 02, 2024

An FBI profiler is a person who analyzes criminal cases for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in order to get a psychological, behavioral and legal profile of a criminal. Most people mistakenly think the FBI actually has profiler positions, but this is inaccurate. The position with the FBI commonly referred to as a “profiler” is actually that of a Special Agent assigned to the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) at Quantico, Virginia.

The Special Agent, otherwise known as a FBI profiler, creates criminal profiles using observations and statistical probability. The art of criminal profiling revolves around compiling a personality of the criminal and in-depth analysis based on how the crime was committed. The profiler takes into consideration any evidence left at the crime scene, statements from eyewitnesses and statistics from similar crimes.

Since most FBI profilers are trained in psychology, another responsibility the profiler has is to interview convicted felons to gain insight into the motives and patterns of other criminals. Felons convicted of violent crimes such as rape and murder can provide much-needed information into the minds of similar criminals. Profilers also speak with the victims or families of the deceased victims to get additional details regarding the crimes.

Another part of the FBI profiler’s job duties involves learning new approaches to figure out how a criminal thinks and reacts to certain stimuli. One such method of research is performed by conducting simulation activities. Some of the simulation exercises include hostage and anti-terrorism simulations that can provide research and analysis by setting up various outcomes.

Once the FBI profiler has compiled a reasonable profile of the person accused of committing a crime, he or she then has the job of tracking down the criminal. The profiler uses the accumulated data and searches through databases for people who may match the description. In addition, the profiler goes to the crime scenes again and looks for any evidence that the profiler or crime lab may have missed. Sometimes, local law enforcement authorities will contact the FBI and inform the agency that new details have emerged or that they think a new crime may be related. Often, the FBI agent may have to dig through old cold cases to see if the criminal profile matches any previous crimes in the system.

In order to be an FBI profiler, the agent has to have a college degree, preferably in criminal justice, psychology or forensic science. Most profilers have related experience in the military, law enforcement or forensic investigation, particularly in working with violent crimes. A criminal profiler should also have good research skills and the ability to make logical deductions. According to the FBI’s website, people must also have at least three years of experience as an agent before applying as a Special Agent.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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