What are the best professional certifications in forensic psychology to earn?
Most positions in the field suggest that applicants hold a forensic psychology certification from the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) before applying for the job. The ABPP is a certification board that requires a forensic psychology PhD in addition to testing and training for certification in the specialty. Certification requires a minimum of 1,000 hours of hands-on forensic psychology practice through an internship or assistantship. These hours must be supervised by a board-certified forensic psychologist.
Forensic psychologists must also be licensed to practice in their state. The process begins with the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, which is a standardized test given by each state’s licensing board. In many cases, states also require additional oral tests, essay questions or continuing education credits for licensure.
The board certification granted by the ABPP and the state license are very different from a graduate certificate earned at a university. A graduate or post-graduate certificate can help prepare you to meet the qualifications needed to earn your certification, but they do not license you to practice forensic psychology.
What organizations offer certification in forensic psychology?
Board certification in forensic psychology is granted through a single organization, the American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP). ABFP is a specialty board within the American Board of Professional Psychology, making all certifications ABPP-approved. The ABPP began its board certification in psychology in 1947. Certifications in forensic psychology have been offered since 1999, when the field was first recognized as a specialty of psychology by the American Psychological Association Directory.
In order to become board certified, a candidate must be able to demonstrate a high level of competence and maturity and a desire to further the field of forensic psychology, in addition to meeting other stringent criteria. These qualifications include a degree from a psychology program accredited by the American Psychological Association. While a forensic psychology masters degree will aid your understanding in the field, you must hold a PhD in forensic psychology or a related specialty in order to be board certified by the ABPP.
Meeting the qualifications is not enough to earn approval from the board, however. Forensic psychologists applying for board certification must also pass a rigorous review of their past work as well as pass a 3-hour oral exam. The exam is given by at least 3 ABFP-certified forensic psychologists.
Can I earn a certification in forensic psychology online?
While you can earn a forensic psychology certificate online from a college or university, you cannot obtain your ABPP certification online because of the rigorous standards set forth by ABPP. Often considered the most difficult part of the certification process, ABPP’s oral examination must be witnessed in person by at least 3 certified forensic psychologists. In a similar way, all other aspects of the certification are reviewed by peers in the industry. This is 1 reason why the certification is respected both within the specialty and elsewhere.
Although forensic psychology certification is not available online, the ABPP does utilize its website to streamline much of the certification process. Candidates for board certification complete an online application and upload documents for a comprehensive education and work review.
The ABPP also requires written practice samples for the oral exam to be submitted on their website. Once your application has been approved, you can register for the written and oral certification exams online. The website also offers study materials for the exams online. These documents include comprehensive instructions for the board certification process.