What Does a Forensic Psychologist Do? Exploring Jobs in the Field

What Does a Forensic Psychologist Do? Exploring Jobs in the Field

A forensic psychologist talks with a young man

Forensic psychology is the practice of applying psychology in the area of investigation, research, and observations related to criminal, civil, and family matters. Qualified forensic psychologists are in high demand for their ability to apply psychology to solve and settle cases.

When you get a degree in forensic psychology, you gain access to a variety of interesting positions. Depending on your experience and preferences, you can find a forensic psychology job anywhere from a research center or a forensic lab to a police station or correctional facility. A bachelor’s degree from Faulkner University in Montgomery, AL, can be your starting point. 

What Is a Forensic Psychologist?

A forensic psychologist is a qualified specialist who uses their knowledge to connect psychology and the legal system. Contrary to the common misconception, forensic psychologists don’t always work at the crime scene to catch criminals. They usually focus on studying criminal behavior to help law enforcement officials understand the offender’s mind.

Besides criminal cases, forensic psychologists also work on civil cases. They can assess witness credibility, provide testimony in court, evaluate the consistency of factual information, design programs for correctional facilities, and much more.

What Does a Forensic Psychologist Do?

A forensic psychologist studies the behavior of people who break the law and uses this knowledge to help law enforcement. Career options for these specialists are impressively diverse. Some forensic psychology jobs are:

  • Correctional counselors: These counselors use their knowledge of criminal behavior to develop correctional programs, provide counseling to inmates, conduct psychological evaluations, and work with attorneys at the correctional facility.
  • Police consultants: These consultants help police officers and detectives understand how criminals think and behave. This can help law enforcement officials solve crimes and catch criminals.
  • Crime analysts: These specialists analyze data collected by law enforcement agencies to understand the volume of crime in certain locations. This can help take preventive measures.
  • Researcher: Many forensic psychologists focus on research that helps them understand criminal minds. They study history, question inmates, and work with victims to collect valuable data. This information can help solve and prevent crimes.

Responsibilities of a forensic psychologist may include:

  • Conducting research for law enforcement and justice systems
  • Testifying as witnesses in court
  • Conducting criminal risk assessments
  • Interviewing offenders to understand their behavior
  • Educating police officers
  • Arranging anger management courses
  • Counseling inmates
  • Evaluating defendants’ and witnesses’ mental state

The type of job you can count on after becoming a forensic psychologist may depend on many factors, including your degree, preferences, and location.

How to Become a Forensic Psychologist

To become a forensic specialist, you need at least a four-year bachelor’s degree. You can either complete an online program or choose traditional offline education. You could consider getting a bachelor’s degree in:

  • General psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Research methods
  • Sociology
  • Juvenile justice
  • Criminal justice

To become a forensic psychologist, you would need a master’s degree that takes two to three years to receive. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as criminal justice, you can still get a master’s in forensic psychology.

A master’s degree can get you a job as a researcher or a consultant. To work directly with patients, you would need a Ph.D. or a PsyD.

To become a forensic psychologist, you would need to hone such skills and personal qualities as:

  • Ability to listen
  • Critical thinking
  • In-depth data analysis
  • Continuous and extensive research
  • Communication

Forensic psychologists who work directly with criminals need to be stress-resistant, empathic, and highly observant.

Licenses for Forensic Psychologists

After you complete your education and obtain a degree, you would need to get appropriate licenses. To do that, you would have to take the EPPP (Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology).

Once you pass the exam, you need to apply for a professional license. The type of license may depend on your state. For example, in Alabama, you have to apply for a clinical psychologist license and pass a professional standards examination.

Average Salary of a Forensic Psychologist

The forensic psychologist’s salary depends on many factors, from degree and experience to specialization and place of work. On average, forensic psychologists make between $80,000 to $110,000 a year, depending on the state.  

Becoming a Forensic Psychologist

The road to becoming a qualified forensic psychologist may not seem easy. However, once you finish your education and get appropriate licenses, you have an impressive variety of career opportunities that come with high salaries.

If you want to learn more about forensic psychologist jobs and the required education, request information at any convenient time or apply to Faulkner University in Montgomery, AL today. It’s also possible to apply now. We also have campuses in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile, AL.