How to Become a Forensic Psychologist

how to become a forensic psychologist

If you’ve seen any of the criminal investigation dramas that have become popular on television recently, you’ve probably seen plenty of depictions of forensic psychology at work.

Forensic psychologists work closely with law enforcement personnel and officials in the legal system to solve crimes and to prosecute criminals.

Forensic psychology involves closely studying different types of criminal behavior, and the life circumstances or psychological disorders that cause people to commit unlawful acts.

In addition to helping catch and prosecute criminals, people in forensic psychology roles may also recommend sentences or rehabilitation measures for those being prosecuted to try to help them overcome whatever drove them to commit crimes.
Forensic psychology professionals work toward understanding criminal actions and impulses, to be able to better catch people who break the law, and to help structure laws and punishments to prevent as much crime as possible.

People in forensic psychology positions are often part of crime scene investigation teams, working with members of law enforcement to examine evidence in order to draw conclusions about the identity or possible future behavior patterns of potential suspects.

Forensic psychologists can also be found in crime labs, closely analyzing evidence to help to narrow lists of suspects.

Forensic psychologists often give testimony in courtrooms as expert witnesses in criminal trials, and may work with lawyers and legal officials in constructing court cases to ensure the outcome that is best for the suspect and for society.

Many forensic psychology positions are available at universities, where they help to train future police personnel, investigators, lawyers, and counselors to prevent crime and to catch and prosecute those who break the law.

What are the requirements?

Forensic psychology professionals

  • may be trained in sub-fields such as clinical psychology, research psychology and experimental psychology
  • are generally expected to have at least a master’s degree in psychology

Forensic psychology certification programs are available through organizations such as the American Board of Forensic Psychology and, while not required for all forensic psychology positions, can be extremely helpful in obtaining one of these jobs.

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