Forensic Psychologist

WHAT DOES A FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST DO?

Forensic psychologists interpret the psychological aspects of subjects for legal professionals in civil and criminal courts. It’s a subcategory of psychology, and is also known as legal psychology. It encompasses many disciplines including corrections, law enforcement, criminal justice and forensic science.

Forensic psychologists’ clients differ whether they’re working on a criminal or civil case. For example, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency and custody battles would all fall under civil cases. Psychologists address emotional distress, relationships, and overall psychological health in these cases. In criminal cases, forensic psychologists administer a complete psychological evaluation for the suspect. It’s used in multiple agencies in the criminal justice system, and can be a determining factor in a suspect’s sentence. For example, the evaluation can note if the criminal defendant was of sound mind or is able to claim a defense of insanity in court. Forensic psychologists can also analyze why criminals have committed violent acts and which criminals are safe to release back into society.

Forensic psychologists must have deductive and interpersonal skills. They must be able to interview subjects, problem-solve, stand trial, write case reports and identify behavioral patterns.

HOW TO BECOME A FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST

Extensive education and experience is required to practice as a psychologist. They must have at least a bachelor’s degree in psychology, be state-licensed, complete an internship or residence and have a couple years of fieldwork. It’s recommended that forensic psychologists also have experience in law or certification in criminal justice.

FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST SALARY

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states the average pay for a psychologist is $69,000, with the top 10 percent earning more than $110,000. Those salaries are parallel for forensic psychologists as well, according to PayScale. Forensic psychologists are typically employed by police departments, privates practices, correctional facilities, or medical health centers.

FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST JOBS

Psychologists hold 160,000 jobs and employment is expected to grow 12 percent by 2022. Legal and health professionals have increasingly turned to mental analyses in court cases and patient diagnoses. Similar to other law enforcement careers, there will always be a demand for forensic psychologists as the need to understand crime and criminal suspects will be a constant in any economy.

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