Out of about 12,000 active FBI special agents, less than 200 special agents are assigned as National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) Field Coordinators. They are selected based on experience, they receive training on how to prepare case files for presentation to the BAU, and must serve for a period under the supervision of a certified profiler from the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). The NCAVC collects information on violent crime voluntarily submitted by police agencies, and attempts to link crimes committed in different jurisdictions.
From this pool of agents, some are selected to become Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) profilers assigned to the BAU. A 2-year certification program follows selection. There are about 25 profilers.
Some larger police agencies employ profilers, some trained by the FBI. And, there are private criminal profilers of various levels of training and competence. The Secret Service (DHS) does some profiling of threats to protectees, has done some work on attempting to profile school shooters, and conducts threat analysis regarding major public events. Predictive profiling, such as that done for drug mules and smugglers differs from criminal profiling. Racial profiling is not criminal profiling, and merely represents bias.
Criminal profiling analyzes crimes after they occur, attempts to link crimes of serial offenders, provides inferences of offender characteristics from behavioral evidence analysis (deductive inferences) and/or attempts to statistically associate common traits of offenders who commit specific crimes in specific ways (inductive inferences).
The FBI likes lawyers and accountants, but they hire from various backgrounds and a professional psychologist would be an attractive candidate (if they were willing to sacrifice one career for another)((http://www.fbijobs.gov/).
There are always more applicants than there are positions, and many applicants are disqualified for various reasons. Those meeting the minimum qualifications may have difficulty obtaining the position. GPA, work experience, ability to communicate orally and in writing, and graduate degrees are considered for hiring determinations.
Forensic psychology, Bachelor and Masters, would probably be beneficial for BAU preparation. Investigative psychology, as taught in the UK, may also be good (look up professors Canter and Alison). In the UK, only psychologists are allowed to conduct criminal profiling. However, an in-depth knowledge of physical evidence is also necessary.
Alison, L. (Ed.). (2005). The forensic psychologist’s casebook: Psychological profiling and criminal investigation. Portland, OR: Willan.
Canter, D.V. (2000). Criminal shadows: The inner narratives of evil. Irving, TX: Authorlink Press.
Douglas, J. E., Burgess, A. W., Burgess, A. G., & Ressler, R. K. (Eds.). (2006). Crime classification manual: A standard system for investigating and classifying violent crimes (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Josey-Bass.
Holmes, R. M., & Holmes, S. T. (2009). Profiling violent crimes: An investigative tool (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Turvey, B. E. (2008). Criminal profiling: An introduction to behavioral evidence analysis (3rd ed.). San Diego, CA: Elsevier Academic Press.