Interested In Pursuing Forensic Psychology Careers? Here Are Five Or More Options To Consider
By: Sarah Fader
Updated June 05, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn
Do you have an interest in forensic psychology or criminal justice? Are you wondering if perhaps you'd like to pursue a job in this field? There are a ton of options out there if that's the case. Some jobs require more education than others, and every job is unique in terms of the daily time commitment that they take once you get the job. Finding the path that's right for you can be tricky, but if you're interested in forensic psychology, it is a highly rewarding field with a lot of options to consider if you have anything from a Bachelor-level education to a Doctorate-level education.
Bachelor's Degree In Forensic Psychology Careers
If you have a BS in forensic psychology, here are some careers that you can pursue:
Survivor Or Victim Advocate
A survivor/victim advocate plays an integral role during the criminal justice process. An advocate works intimately with victims or survivors and helps them navigate the legal system as well as symptoms of trauma. They aren't a mental health professional, but they do have an understanding of the law and what may be helpful for a survivor. They play a role in educating a survivor on the legal system, go to court dates with a survivor or victim, and assist them in getting legal representation or an attorney as well as other services. Victim advocates don't need a particular certification, but there is a national association for victim assistants. Someone with a BS in forensic psychology can succeed and find fulfillment in this field because it integrates the knowledge of criminal justice with psychology.
Law Enforcement Officer
When you have a BS in forensic psychology, you're knowledgeable with regard to the legal system and can think critically about how the mind of someone who commits crimes works. Many police departments are in need of a forensic psychologist, and having this experience can help you climb the ranks and eventually get to a place in your career where not only are you a staff psychologist, but you could become a detective as well. It's a fascinating field, and becoming a detective is something that you can pursue with your talent and interest in focusing on the criminal mind.
Many people have reservations about becoming a police officer, but being a probation officer is an alternative career path that you can pursue. Probation officers work with those who have committed crimes that have served prison or jail time and are re-entering society. They're well-versed in forensic psychology and understand tricky or emotionally charged situations. They also have experience with people who might be volatile or potentially aggressive. A probation officer plays an important role in encouraging people who have a criminal history, helping them keep up with their responsibilities, and assisting them in finding job placements.
Master's Degree Careers For Forensic Psychologists
Juvenile Offender Counselor
Unfortunately, there's a large population of youth that has committed crimes. They are often repeat offenders and have difficulty re-entering society without repeatedly committing crimes. One factor that is frequently occurring for these individuals is that they're victims of child abuse, whether that's sexual, physical, emotional, or neglect. Abuse is often a contributor to their criminal background, and a juvenile offender counselor can help youth to process their trauma, understand what they've been through, and grasp why they're making the actions that they are engaging in.
Licensed counseling is extremely valuable to juvenile offenders, and if you work with youth, you have the ability to change lives and help people turn things around before they're adults. People who are in the criminal justice field who have a passion for helping young people need to have compassion. Even if you haven't experienced abuse yourself, you can be highly empathetic. Having this career is a viable option for those who want to help the voices of the next generation.
Those who have a Master's in forensic psychology are often critical thinkers, and they can conduct Master's-level research. They're often assistants to clinical psychologists and can help them think in a forensic psychological manner. They're adept at analyzing specific types of data and can look at something in a unique and logical way that a clinical psychologist might not because they're focused on the emotional component whereas a forensic psychologist is more likely to think about statistics and facts. Research is a rewarding field where ground-breaking discoveries happen, and being a part of those experiments can be exciting.
Doctoral Degree Careers For Forensic Psychology
When you have a doctoral degree in forensic psychology, there are many careers that you can pursue. You may have a PsyD or a Ph.D. in forensic psychology, depending on where you studied and what kind of research you conducted. There are training hours that vary from state to state, and they're heavy on research as well as teaching students in the field of forensic psychology. Here are some doctorate-level positions that you may pursue:
To become a forensic psychologist, you need to have a highly analytical nature. Individuals who pursue the field are thinkers and can use their cerebral attributes to analyze the minds of those in the criminal justice system, whether they are offenders or innocent people. Many people who pursue a Ph.D. or PsyD in forensic psychology have a goal to become a forensic psychologist. These individuals not only work for law enforcement or become detectives but can pursue higher-level careers as an FBI agent. They might participate in criminal profiling and are able to get inside the minds of those who commit crimes. They often collaborate with police officers and detectives. Forensic psychologists, as a general rule, are extremely analytical and are able to see things from the mind of a criminal in order to help solve crimes and better society.
Doctorate-level forensic psychologists can teach those at an undergraduate level in the field of forensic psychology. They have a passion for conducting research and can inspire their undergraduate students to do the same. It's rewarding to pursue this level of education if you have an invested interest in sharing your knowledge of forensic psychology with your students. If you'd prefer to work in academia, this is an excellent option for you to continue your learning while teaching others about forensic psychology and how to understand the criminal mind. Academia is a fascinating world, and especially if you're interested in human behavior and how those who have committed crimes to operate, you have the potential to influence undergraduate students to pursue higher levels of education, or you can show them the different options that they can pursue on their own with a Bachelor's.
What Forensic Psychologists Do
A forensic psychologist is someone who's able to make the legal proceedings for people streamline depending on their clients or how they relate to the people in their work. They can expedite a court case, they can work directly with a jury, and they play an extremely important role in the criminal justice system.
Salaries For Forensic Psychologists
The salary of a forensic psychologist will depend on the level of education that they have, the experience that they have in the field, and the geographic location of where they work. The geographic location will influence the salary of a forensic psychologist because of the work that's available as well as the cost of living and so on.
Your Journey To Becoming A Forensic Psychologist
Regardless of your level of education, varying from Bachelor's to Master's to Doctorate's, pursuing jobs in forensic psychology take quite the journey and require years of practice, study, and continuous education. A Bachelor's degree may involve studying criminal justice, or you may pursue a pre-law education. A psychology student who is interested in forensic psychology would want to do more research-oriented activities rather than abnormal behavior or developmental psychology; they'd have to have a focus on the criminal justice system and care about helping people navigate the law.
What It's Like To Get A Master's In Forensic Psychology
Somebody who has a graduate-level education in Forensic Psychology is interested in pursuing this career long term, and they want to be able to make changes in the criminal justice system. They are not just facilitating clients as they navigate it, but they hope to actually impact change.
Many people who are into forensic psych could go on to pursue a JD degree and become lawyers. Having a degree in Forensic Psychology is advantageous because you're thinking about both the law itself and the mind of those who commit illegal activities. If you're a defense attorney, having a degree in forensic psychology will be an excellent background and place to start from.
It's not a requirement to be board-certified to use your degree. However, there is the American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP), which is overseen by the ABPP or The American Board of Professional Psychology. Although board certification isn't required to enter some of the jobs that'll be available in your field, being board certified can be highly advantageous to your career and can be important to your professionalism. You have to complete 100 hours of education and 1,000 hours of hands-on practical experience in the field of forensic psychology.
Getting Where You Need To Go - Talk About Your Problems In Online Therapy
Online therapy or online counseling is a productive place to discuss your potential career goals. Talking with a therapist who understands how you think about feel about things is essential when you're deciding your life goals. You're allowed to be anxious when it comes to figuring out your career path. Your online therapist understands job anxiety and is there to support you exploring what the best position is for you. There are no right answers, but therapy is a place where you can be free to discuss your hopes and dreams. If you're interested in pursuing a psychology-related career of any kind, what better place to discuss it than online counseling? The counselors at BetterHelp are passionate about helping you and supporting you in your education and career path. You may feel unclear as to if you want to work in the criminal justice system, but talking about it in this context can help you gain clarity. Search the network of mental health professionals at BetterHelp and find the best fit for you.