Forensic Psychology is an exciting profession that combines law with psychology. Forensic Psychologists are usually responsible for assisting courts and physicians in determining a convict’s mental state and his/her motives for committing the crime. These professionals are usually employed by government agencies, schools, law firms, police departments, rehabilitation centers, jails and prisons.
Do you want to find out what it takes to be successful in this profession? If yes, then keep reading this comprehensive article. It will explain to you how to become a forensic Psychologist in the U.S.
Should I Become a Forensic Psychologist?
If you want to find out why people commit crimes, engage in anti-social behaviors, and behave aggressively, then you should consider working as a Forensic Psychologist.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has outlined the typical education, training, and work experience requirements for Psychologists. These are mentioned in the table below.
|Education Required||Master’s/Doctoral/Education Specialist degrees.|
|Training||Every state has its own training requirements. Usually, psychologists have to complete a residency/internship program.|
|Licenses/Certifications||Psychologists need to be licensed.|
|Key Skills/Qualities||In order to excel in their field, Psychologists are required to have good observational, interpersonal, communication and analytical skills.|
|Annual Mean Salary (2019) – National||$98,230 (Psychologists – All Other)|
|Job Outlook (2018-28)||14% (Psychologists)|
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
There is some good news for individuals who want to choose Psychology as a potential career path. There will be a 14% career growth in this field from 2018 to 2028. Moreover, the forecasted numeric change in employment of Psychologists from 2018 to 2028 will be 26,100. These figures have been obtained from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Steps to Become a Forensic Psychologist
You will have to go through the following sequence of stages in order to realize your professional dream of becoming a Forensic Psychologist.
- Finish Undergraduate Education
First of all, you will have to enroll in an undergraduate program and will have to pick a Psychology major. Some schools are also offering joint majors in Psychology and Criminology. The 4-year long undergraduate program in Psychology will introduce you to a variety of topics such as Introduction to Psychology, Data Analysis in Psychology and Research Methods in Psychology.
After graduating from the bachelor’s program, you can pursue a 2-year long Master’s degree (M.Sc. or M.A) in Forensic Psychology. These degrees allow students to specialize in a variety of areas such as Police Psychology, Terrorism, Cybercrime, Sex Offender Behavior and Family Violence.
- Obtain an Advanced Doctoral Degree
If you intend to do more research in the field of Forensic Psychology, then earning a Ph.D. in Forensic Psychology would be a good idea. The doctoral curriculum will incorporate a range of modules such as Victimology and Advanced Issues in Forensic Psychology. You can expect to complete the doctoral program within five to seven years.
- Get Licensed!
It is mandatory for all candidates to get licensed if they want to work as a Psychologist in the U.S. Thus, you will be expected to pass a licensure examination after completing your studies. Please bear in mind that the licensure requirements vary by state, so it’ll be a good idea to visit your state pages and familiarize yourself with those requirements.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Forensic Psychologist?
Forensic Psychologists usually have to obtain a 4-year long Bachelor’s degree (B.Sc./B.A) in Psychology along with a 2-year long Master’s degree (M.Sc./M.A) in Psychology. Candidates who want to do more research in the field of Forensic Psychology are advised to complete a 5 to 7-year long doctoral program. Thus, it can take approximately 11 to 13 years to join this profession.
What Are the Requirements to Become a Forensic Psychologist?
If you want to establish a career in Forensic Psychology, then you will have to:
- Earn a master’s/doctoral degree in a relevant area such as Psychology or Forensic Psychology.
- Get licensed by your State Board after meeting the training and examination requirements.
How Much Do Forensic Psychologists Earn?
Since BLS has not published any wage statistics for Forensic Psychologists, therefore we will use the wage data of another category, identified as ‘Psychologists (All Others)’. Occupational statistics show that the yearly mean pay of this category was $98,230 in May 2019.