Careers in Forensic Psychology

Psychologists typically study human behavior by observing, questioning, and interpret how people relate to others and situations in which they find themselves. They carefully research and observe, looking for patterns or behaviors that help them predict how and why an individual reacts the way in which he or she does.

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Forensic psychologists are specialists that bridge the fields of psychology and criminal justice. Their job includes helping judges, attorneys, and others in the criminal justice system to understand the psychology involved in cases. Often, forensic psychologists are called to serve as expert witnesses in court cases; thus, they usually specialize in either family court, civil court, and criminal court. In family court, they may evaluate children involved in custody cases or even investigate alleged child abuse incidents. In civil court, they may be asked to provide therapy to victims or provide second opinions in psychology-related matters. In criminal court, forensic psychologists may be asked to evaluate a defendant to determine whether he or she is competent to stand trial or work with witnesses who may be considered delicate, such as children or victims of violent crimes.

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Become a Forensic Psychologist: Education and Other Requirements

To become a forensic psychologist, one must usually possess a graduate degree in psychology. A doctoral degree is typically necessary in order to pursue independent practice as a psychologist. However, psychologists with a master’s degree may enter the field of forensic psychology as well. Gaining acceptance into graduate programs in psychology is highly competitive, but this can be accomplished with flexible or distance learning programs so that the student can work while pursuing the degree.

There are personal characteristics that an individual should possess in order to become an effective forensic psychologist. Emotional stability, maturity, and the ability to deal with others with sensitivity and compassion are primary qualities that are used in this job on a daily basis. In addition, forensic psychologists must be able to communicate clearly with a variety of people – adult victims, children, law enforcement, attorneys, and judges.

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Forensic Psychology Salary

Forensic psychology salaries vary widely, based on education, experience, and geographic location. In 2008, the median annual salary was approximately $64,000. This figure is typical for forensic psychologists, as those employed in state governments earned slightly below that at $63,710 annually.

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Forensic Psychology Career Outlook

The employment of psychologists in general is expected to grow at an average rate – about 12 percent – over the next decade. This anticipated growth is due to the expected growing demand for psychological services in social service organizations and in the criminal justice system. Psychologists who have a doctoral degree in an applied specialty, such as forensic psychology, have the best prospects for a job.

Forensic Psychology Related Degrees from Accredited Schools

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Walden University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Ph.D. in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
  • M.S. in Forensic Psychology - Mental Health Applications
  • M.S. in Forensic Psychology - Psychology and Legal Systems

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Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • MA in Forensic Psychology - Non-Licensure Track

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University of Phoenix
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • M.S. in Psychology/Industrial- Organizational Psychology
  • B.S. in Psychology
  • A.A. in Psychology

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Colorado Technical University Online
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology

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California University of Pennsylvania
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • MA in Social Science (Applied Criminology)

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Capella University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • PhD - Psychology
  • BS - Psychology
  • PhD - Addiction Psychology

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Liberty University
Campuses: 1Online
Popular Degrees:

  • BS in Psychology
  • AA in Psychology


Page Edited by Charles Sipe.