Forensic psychologists interpret the psychological state of subjects for civil and criminal courts. It encompasses many disciplines including corrections, law enforcement, criminal justice and forensic science. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2009 more than 7.2 million were in jail, on probation or on parole.
Many of those inmates meet with a forensic psychologist at some point. Oftentimes psychologists can work directly with attorneys and legal staff to provide mental health evaluations for trials. But if working on the corrections spectrum, the psychologist would administer mental care screenings, therapy, or court-ordered assessments of the inmate’s overall health. Although these are all examples of applied forensic psychology within the criminal justice system, forensic psychologists can also work at universities, law firms and private practices.
Every psychologist must earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Although it’s recommended to major in psychology, it’s not a requirement. Those interested in pursuing a career in forensics, should minor or choose an emphasis in criminology or criminal justice. Explore different avenues of psychology and criminal law in your electives and maintain a high GPA to apply for graduate school. Start researching potential graduate programs while you’re still enrolled in your freshman or sophomore year of your undergraduate degree. You’ll need to know what classes, grades, and experiences are needed to successfully be accepted into the graduate program. After earning your bachelor’s degree, take the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE) shortly after graduating so the information is still fresh. Most schools require the GRE for admittance.
Professionals with bachelor’s degrees can work in the field of psychology, but cannot legally practice as a licensed psychologist. You must have a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology. Studying general psychology or focusing on a forensic psychology program are both options. Find accredited schools and programs through the American Board of Professional Psychology and the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
During your graduate study, you would have completed at least one internship, written a thesis and started working on clinical hours. However, depending on the state requirements, you’ll need 1,500 to 6,000 hours of training before you can become a licensed psychologist. In these both supervised and non supervised sessions, you’ll need to work with a variety of different issues, including addiction, abuse, and human sexuality. Each state has different requirements, which are outlined here. Each state has different requirements, which are outlined here.
To practice psychology, every professional must be state-licensed. In all states, students must pass the Examination for the Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP), a multiple-choice test on core areas of psychology that is administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB). Some states require ethics exams as well as interviews.
Congratulations! You are now a licensed forensic psychologist. Forensic psychologists are typically employed by police departments, privates practices, correctional facilities, or medical health centers. Psychologists hold 160,000 jobs and employment is expected to grow 12 percent by 2022. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states top psychologists earn more than $110,000 each year, with additional opportunities for advancement.