Careers In Forensic Psychology – Education, Salary

Interested in blending psychology with law or criminal justice? Then you will want to explore careers in forensic psychology.  It is the youngest among natural sciences and growing interest has been spurred by television shows, movies and books. A good foundation in psychology will be useful whatever occupation you may decide on after your studies.

Wanted: More Specialized Graduate Programs

Because it is a relatively new field, there are very few forensic psychology schools or forensic psychology graduate programs. Nevertheless, a counseling or clinical psychology program will also be sufficient in providing you with the necessary skills should you want to concentrate on forensics. The key is to take up as many electives relative to forensic psychology while completing your program.

Professionals will actually tell you that to become a good forensic psychologist is not dependent on the degree, but on your expertise in particular areas relating to legal issues. After all, this sub-field is an intersection of psychology and law. So it’s not uncommon for those with a masters in counseling psychology or clinical psychology to be in this field as long as he has enough knowledge and skills to handle cases of forensic nature.

What To Look Forward To

So, if forensic psychology has piqued your interest, you’re probably thinking where you’ll end up in after completing a degree. It’s best to know from the start that if you want the more exciting careers in forensic psychology, you need a doctorate just like most psychology professionals.

Still, it will go a long way to have a masters in forensic psychology, or even a bachelors degree just to give you a sense and overview about the field and the many possibilities available to you with the proper education and credentials. With enough experience and exposure you can then decide if this is something you want to do in the long term.

Aspiring to work with the FBI? Then get training from the ground up. Many who actually earn any of the forensic psychology degrees may work in a a related field where they eventually want to focus on, such as law enforcement or rehabilitation centers, although in a different capacity. As with most masters in psychology degree holders, the likely opportunities available to you are in research. But don’t lose heart. The more you gain experience in this discipline, the more you increase your value once you finally decide on what to focus on. Two skills that you really must be very good at in this career are investigation and research.

With a masters in forensic psychology degree, you can expect work at correctional facilities if you really want to apply your knowledge and skills in psychology for the legal system. The salary isn’t as much, but it’s the experience that counts especially if you plan to pursue higher studies and further your career.

Otherwise, it will be difficult to really find work as forensic psychologist without a PhD. One option for bachelor or masters degree holders is to get into law enforcement, victims assistance, or in social services agencies that will expose them while allowing them to put into practice what they’ve learned in forensic psychology programs.

Doctorate Degrees And Licenses

Still there are different careers in forensic psychology that you can look into, especially if you get a PhD and earn a license.

Other than the prisons or jails and rehabilitation centers, you can find work in police departments, law firms, schools and government agencies. You can be an FBI profiler or prison therapist for inmates. In these fields, you will work closely with attorneys, defendants, offenders, victims, students, families and patients in state correctionals or rehabilitation.

Among your main functions as forensic psychologist is competency evaluation, sentencing recommendation, evaluation of the risk of offenders, testimony as expert witness and child custody evaluation. Understand that the skills and expertise needed from you extend beyond what was taught in school. In dealing with offenders or criminals, most of the time they are with you not on their own free will so getting what you need from them is often twice as difficult. These are some of the challenges when you choose careers in forensic psychology.

Profiling a criminal may seem like a very glamorous part of the job, but in truth you can only have so many serial killers that will need assessment and evaluation. The reality exists that many are drawn to careers in forensic psychology because of the public portrayal about the profession.

Of course, careers in forensic psychology education are available. If you’re more into research and teaching then you will find many opportunities in colleges and universities, as well as federal and local agencies where you can share your expertise to update knowledge and trends in the field of forensic psychology.

So, do you think there are careers in forensic psychology that will interest you enough to prepare for admission into competitive programs?

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Steve Douglas

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