Forensic Psychologist: Education and Career Information
If you like the notion of working for the law in some capacity and like the mental aspects of solving crimes, a career as a forensic psychologist may be waiting for you. This is not a common career path, but is very interesting and has become more popular as crime shows have forensic psychologists helping to solve complex crimes. This position does more than just solve crimes, and is extremely beneficial to both the legal and law enforcement profession.
What does a forensic psychologist do?
Forensic psychology entails a number of areas where a mental perspective is needed to assist in investigations and assessments. Forensic psychologists can serve as expert witnesses, evaluate mental competency of offenders, perform child custody evaluations, conduct visitation risk assessments, and conduct research to help solve crimes. Depending on where the position is located, the job can be very stressful and demanding. You will find forensic psychologists working in probation services, private hospitals, police departments, social services and in institutions of higher learning.
Forensic psychologists provide research-based evidence to develop policies, works in determining criminal profiles, provide information for parole boards and mental health tribunals and assist in the rehabilitation of incarcerated offenders. This position helps to train staff, works with victims of certain crimes and the general public on their fears surrounding certain crimes, completes one-to-one assessments on offenders to determine their risk for re-offending, and provides an overall foundation for the legal and law enforcement systems to operate and utilize effective policies when dealing with offenders.
How much does a forensic psychologist earn?
The salary scale for forensic psychologists vary depending on where they are employed, the locale, experience and education level. An entry level position for someone with a master’s degree earn around $40,000 and are not considered a full forensic psychologist. Those who hold a doctorate degree can make around $75,000 annually, which was the median average salary in 2013 according to Indeed.com. Payscale.com projects this annual salary to be around $62,000 on average, with a high-end salary of $124,000.
What types of skills does a forensic psychologist need?
A forensic psychologist must have specialized skills to succeed in this position. They must have:
Scientific proficiency: This profession is based on science. These individuals must be able to provide statistical formulas and analysis to correctly match evidence to certain theories on why people do what they do, how they think and their possible next move. Through rigorous scientific training, forensic psychologists learn how to assess and evaluate the mind.
Legal Background Knowledge: Forensic psychologists must have legal knowledge to be successful, as they assist law enforcement and officials in solving crimes. Having educational training in law is very useful, as well as knowing and understanding courtroom procedures to make an impact.
Research skills: A forensic psychologist must be able to conduct thorough research to obtain information and prior histories on the evolution of certain crimes. Research conducted can assist in building criminal profiles, or in assessing the mental state of the victim or offender.
Communication skills: Individuals in this position help attorneys and law enforcement professionals solve crimes or assess certain behaviors. They must be able to explain links to evidence and how psychology plays a role in how and why the crime was committed. A forensic psychologist works with court and law enforcement officials, and attorneys and investigators to help build criminal profiles. They must be able to speak clearly and effectively in the court of law or in front of groups of people.
Analysis skills: A forensic psychologist must be able to analyze lots of data and information to extract what they need to assist law enforcement or the department in which they work. Their analysis skills must be sharp and astute to be able to see and process information that would not ordinarily be thought of by normal law enforcement officials.
Critical Thinking Skills: Being able to put yourself in the shoes of a criminal and their thoughts takes a high level of critical thinking skills. This is a skill that is essential to the success of anyone in this position.
Individuals in this position also need a high level of patience, commitment and creativity to get the job done.
There is a clinical internship component in order to obtain the doctoral degree, which varies based on the program. Two years of professional experience is also needed to be able to sit for the specialization in forensic psychology.
There is a lengthy educational component associated with becoming a forensic psychologist. The first step in becoming a forensic psychologist is obtaining a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related area. Once that degree has been obtained, acquiring a master’s degree in forensic psychology, and then a doctoral degree in clinical or counseling psychology is needed to earn the Ph.D. or Psy.D. All educational programs must be obtained through accredited institutions.
Coursework in these areas include abnormal psychology, forensics, and the psychology of deviants. Individuals should also have an extensive background of law and the legal profession to fully understand the intricacies of this area.
Doctoral programs in this field are very competitive, and it takes about 5 to 7 years of graduate school to become prepared to sit for the licensing Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. Once candidates have obtained board certification, they can sit for another exam to become certified as Diplomat of Forensic Psychology by the American Board of Forensic Psychology.
This can be a very interesting career path that is diverse, challenging and rewarding. This can be a highly stressful area, but if you thrive off excitement and getting to the bottom of intimate details, a career as a forensic psychologist may benefit you.
Get Matched to Online Programs In A Few Clicks!
Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
- BS in Business Administration
- MS in Accounting - Audit Specialization
- AAS in Criminal Justice
- And more...
A degree from CTU connects you to what matters most: powerful professional network, real-world professional faculty and innovative technology. Once you earn your degree you hit the ground running.
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN completion)
- Master of Science in Information Technology - Network Management
- Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Human Services
- And more...
As a student at South University, Online Programs you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.
- Nurse Educator (PGC)
- Nursing (RN to BSN)
- Master of Science in Human Resources Management
- And more...
Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges.
- Business Administration (BS)
- Curriculum and Instruction (EdD)
- Liberal Arts (BA)
- And more...
Aviation Institute of Maintenance schools are distinguished institutes committed to the education and personal enrichment of each student interested in the Aviation Industry.
- Aviation Maintenance Technician
- Aviation Maintenance Technical Engineer
Earn your degree or diploma on your schedule and succeed at Ashworth College.
- Payroll Clerk
- Private Investigation
- High School
- And more...
Ohio University has offered distance learning educational opportunities for more than 100 years.
- Master of Business Analytics
- Master of Health Administration
Whether you’re looking to advance in your current role or transition into a new one, UND’s online Master of Science in Cyber Security is a great choice. Our master’s program allows you to complete general coursework or specialize in one of three areas that can prepare you for leadership in the growing field of cyber security.
Choose from four tracks:
- Autonomous Systems Cyber Security
- Data Security
- Cyber Security and Behavior
- General Cyber Security
100% Online. Transfer credits accepted. 20 months to complete. No prior work or education experience required.
About University of North Dakota:
UND is ranked alongside Stanford, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) among the Top 25 Most Innovative Schools by US News and World Report. Our groundbreaking discoveries, economic impact and notable alumni are a testament to our belief that results matter. Our online master’s in cyber security program is offered through the UND College of Engineering & Mines (CEM) — one of the most well-respected engineering schools in the upper Midwest. That means when it comes to quality, you can be confident in UND.
- Master of Science in Cyber Security
Advance your career with an online degree from California InterContinental University.
- Bachelor of Engineering Information Technology Emphasis in Network and Systems Security (BEITNSS)
- Bachelor of Engineering Information Technology in Project Management (BEITPM)
- Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management and Leadership (MBAHCML)
- And more...
Study for your graduate education with University of Illinois at Chicago.
- Master of Science in Health Informatics
The Online MSN – FNP Program From Simmons College
- MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner
- RN to MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner
Making the decision to earn your degree and pursue your career goals could be the best decision you ever make. Enroll at ECPI University and you’ll join a collaborative and fostering learning environment, surrounded by faculty and staff who are there to support you through the entire process.
What Are You Waiting For?
- Cloud Computing - Bachelor's
- Cyber and Network Security - Bachelor's
- Network Security - Associate's
- And more...
At the University of Nevada, Reno, we teach public health practitioners how to look beyond physical conditions and consider environmental, economic and sociological factors that impact individual and community health, happiness and well-being.
The online Master of Public Health in Public Health Practice is designed to prepare you for employment in nearly any area of the public health field.
- Online Master of Public Health (MPH)
Online Learning at Concordia University–Portland
- M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Social Studies
- M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Environmental Education
- M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction: Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education
- And more...