Becoming A Student

I would like more information on this career path, anymore information about this career path?

Forensic psychology falls under the umbrella of psychology, it specializes in addressing legal issues. A professional forensic psychologist consults with people who are dealing with various levels of the legal system, from judges and attorneys to defendants in a criminal and civil case. A degree or certificate program in this field will allow students to learn how to apply the principles of psychology to civil and criminal justice systems. However, keep in mind that these professionals are not police officer, so they will not need much physical training to qualify. Instead of that, students will learn about psychological and criminal justice to counsel legal experts during a case. If you are interested in this field, you will first need to become a licensed psychologist through a traditional or online school. Once you have your psychology degree, you can be able to receive specialized forensic psychological training. You cannot start this career path until you earn a doctorate in psychology, so keep in mind that you will need to prepare yourself for many years of schooling if you are interested in starting this career path.  

Here's a few interviews with current students and professors

An Interview with Kelly McCardic

Kelly McCardic

Graduate, Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology,Argosy University

“In order to be a successful student, you must be resilient.”Read the Full Interview

An Interview with Jason Doll

Jason Doll

Professor of Forensic Psychology,Marymount University

“This field requires the abilities to think critically and to adapt to a certain degree of ambiguity.”Read the Full Interview

Career Overview

Forensic Psychologist,David DixonWatch His Story
video

What do forensic psychologists do daily?

They are professional psychologists who consult with other professionals in the criminal and legal justice system. On any given day, they can perform a range of job duties within the civil or criminal courts. One example in the civil court system, they usually advise attorneys working on child custody cases to assess whether or not the parents are fit to raise their children. And in the criminal court system, they are tasked with evaluating whether or not suspected criminals are mentally fit to testify or if they should be deemed insane. They also give testimony in cases where they are asked to be experts in topics related to psychology. Finally, outside of the court room, they can also be asked to counsel offenders or inmates who are currently on parole or probation.

Read another perspective

An Interview with H.D. Kirkpatrick

H.D. Kirkpatrick

Forensic Psychologist,Private Practice

“I would tell a student who is interested in field that they need to be mentally and emotionally strong. Enduring cross examination on the witness stand requires a certain keenness of intellect, backbone and strength.”Read the Full Interview

Deciding Your Future

What other things should I consider?

Education Requirements

If you want to go into this field, you need to prepare yourself for many years of schooling. An undergraduate degree alone will not qualify you to work in this field. You must earn a doctorate and obtain a license in order to practice, so if you do not plan to attend graduate school, this is not the right career choice for you.

Career Outlook

What is the career outlook in this field?

There is not much available on the job outlook of forensic psychologists because they work in such a niche field of psychology. However, in 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were around 15,900 total psychologists working in specialized areas of the field. Employment in these specialized psychologist fields are expected to increase by about 14% through 2018, which is faster than the average of 12% growth rate for all jobs. Career prospects are best for those who have earned a doctoral degree from a top university. Using the graphs and charts below, you can view the outlook for a forensic science technician or clinical psychologist.
Profession Employment Projected Average Growth

Average Salary Growth 2006 - 2011

Profession 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

Salary By Percentile

Profession 10th 25th 50th 75th 90th

Licensing Requirements

How long would it take me to get professional licensed?

It takes between 8 to 10 years to become professional licensed in this field. In order to even practice in this field, you are required to have a doctorate, which requires at least four years of a graduate education after you have completed your bachelors degree. Usually, during the final year of your doctoral program, you will need to begin an internship that is supervised by a licensed professional that lasts two years. Once you complete that internship, you will be allowed to apply for an exam to get your license.

Related Studies

What knowledge and skills can I expect to pick up while studying forensic psychology?

KNOWLEDGE

Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal psychology studies unusual thinking patterns and ways of acting that result in behavioral or mental health disorders. Many disorders that are associated with abnormal psychology are treatable with a combination of counseling therapy techniques and medication. Some examples of disorders include social anxiety disorder, sexual deviation and substance abuse.

Human Development – Adult & Child

Human development refers to the changes that people experience as they mature emotionally, physically and intellectually. Human development theories present timelines that illustrate how people ordinarily develop social, mental and motor skills at different phases of growth. It discusses what level of development is considered normal at different points in a person’s childhood, adolescence and adulthood.

Personality Psychology

Personality psychology examines the thoughts, feelings and patterns of behavior that make each person unique. Some topics that are covered include emotional intelligence, motivation and the difference between people who are extroverted and people who are introverted. It also discusses personality disorders and the possible effect of genetics on personality.

Victimology

Victimology explores the mental and emotional effects that victims of crime experience. It examines the relationships between victims and criminal offenders as well as the interaction between victims and groups like the media and law enforcement. It also studies the way that criminals choose people to victimize.

Psychology Ethics & Law

Psychology ethics are the moral guidelines developed by the American Psychology Association and other professional organization that psychologists use to make professional and legal decisions. Ethical discussions in psychology include topics like professional roles and respective responsibilities; boundaries; client confidentiality; the ethical decision-making process; research guidelines; and knowledge of essential legal decisions and cases applicable to forensic practice. Legal considerations include professional liability, professional rules of conduct and the role of the psychologist in various legal settings, including the courtroom.

SKILLS

Problem Solving

Forensic psychologists try to understand the mental processes that lead clients or suspected criminals to behave in unusual ways. Your psychology curriculum will teach you how to identify and treat mental health and behavioral issues in your clients. You will learn which therapy techniques are most appropriate for particular groups of people and situations.

Therapy Techniques

During your forensic psychology training, you will practice different therapy techniques that you can use to treat your clients. You will learn to effectively evaluate and counsel people with a range of mental disorders. Your counseling program will also teach you ways to communicate with specific groups of people like juvenile offenders, dangerous criminals and those with severe mental disorders.

Psychological Assessment & Testing

Psychological assessment and testing teaches the principles, strengths and weakness of different assessment instruments and how to choose the most appropriate method of assessment. By reviewing case studies and gaining hands-on experience in administering, scoring, and interpreting the test results. You will also gain experience in writing different types of forensic reports of findings. You will learn that that assessment involves your professional interpretation of the test results and how to present your findings.

Research Methods

As you study forensic psychology, you will be trained in scientific research methods like experimenting, surveying and observing. You will learn to design original research plans that are respected by your peers by gathering information from diverse and reliable sources. You will also learn to interpret the research of others and to apply that information to your own insights to produce new ideas in forensic psychology.

Interpersonal Communication

A degree in forensic psychology will teach you to communicate with and relate to your clients. You will also be trained to listen actively to your clients so that you can evaluate their state of mind and recommend the best treatment possible. In addition, you will learn to communicate with people in related professions like mental health counselors, social workers and law enforcement officials.

Getting Licensed

What do I need to do to become licensed?

Licensing

If you want to practice, you need to be licensed by your state. States have different licensing requirements, but most states require that psychologists complete the following steps:

• graduate from a PhD or PsyD program that is accredited by the American Psychological Association
• complete an internship that is approved by the American Psychological Association
• complete 1 to 2 years of supervised work experience
• pass the state licensing examination

Before you choose a doctorate program, you should investigate the licensing requirements for the state that you want to practice in to make sure that it will prepare you to be licensed. You can either contact the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board or your state’s licensing board for specific information on state licensing laws.

Board Certification

Some choose to become board certified by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), which means that they are specially certified to practice. Board certification is not required to practice, but it is a respected credential in the field. ABPP certification is recognized by the American Psychological Association.

To become board certified, candidates must show advanced professional skills and knowledge in this field. In addition, the certification process includes a review of the candidate’s educational training and professional experience. You can contact the American Board of Forensic Psychology and the American Board of Professional Psychology for more information about becoming board certified.

Resources

What are some related websites that can help me learn more about pursuing a career path in forensic psychology?

American Board of Forensic Psychology

American Psychological Association

American Psychology-Law Society

American Board of Professional Psychology

Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board

Bureau of Labor Statistics – Psychologists