How to Become a Forensic Psychologist The Key Steps

As per the BLS or Bureau of Labor Statistics, a forensic psychologist needs to have a clear understanding of both forensic science and psychology. The nature of this job requires its individuals to possess deep thinking and proper communication skills. The aspirants looking for how to become a forensic psychologist requires them to run interviews, evaluate answers, and body language to help steer the investigation in the right track.

These professionals conduct their research in a more scholarly manner. And that helps them improve their interrogation techniques when working with criminals at rehabilitation centers or correction facilities.

Some of the Other Key Skills and Competencies Which a Forensic Psychologist Should Possess Are As Follows –

  • Ability to listen to every word carefully while interrogating a suspect
  • Should be able to establish trust with the convict
  • Ability to understand and communicate all legal terminologies 
  • Must have an open mind and should work with suspects or criminals with a non-judgemental approach
  • Should show teamwork skills
  • Should be able to analyze statistical data properly
  • Must have resilience and ability to tackle possible personal safety risks 

Furthermore, a forensic psychologist also serves as excellent expert witnesses during criminal trials. And if the need arises, they should be willing to testify in court.

They work the crime scene looking for any clues that point them in the right direction. And depending on their analysis or evidence, they narrow down a list of potential suspects and come up with criminal profiles.

If the situation arises, a forensic psychologist even serves as advisors. They share their recommendations for treatment, competency, and convict sentencing depending on their mental health. Other than their crucial role in crime scenes and working the clues, a forensic psychologist also conduct psyche-evaluations and helps resolve disputes.

These professionals usually work in law enforcement firms, schools, rehabilitation centers, prisons, confinements, PD, and even carry out private practice. A forensic psychologist also needs the evaluation reports from the department’s forensic team for the case presentation.

More below on how to become a forensic psychologist, its salary, and its popular job titles with the highest annual payouts.

Steps on How to Become a Forensic Psychologist

As often is the case, forensic psychologists can find the puzzle’s missing piece to break a case. Right from discovering the crime’s motive to the list of prime suspects, they often prove essential in connecting the dots.

What’s more, a forensic psychologist also plays a significant role in crime prevention. By researching possible suspects (even visiting and interacting with them), these experts can pinpoint people’s names before they also commit the crime.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals choosing the field of forensic psychology as their career should focus their education on criminology, psychology, and forensic science.

However, there are other ways to meet their educational requirements. They can take up specific courses on abnormal psychology, forensic science, and psychology of deviance.

So, for those wanting to know how to become a forensic psychologist, here are some crucial steps.

Step 1: Earn A Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree(s) in Forensic Psychology

The first step on how to become a forensic psychologist is to earn a bachelor’s (s) degree and a master’s degree(s) in forensic psychology. They will come across a few Master’s degree programs that accept candidates possessing vivid educational qualifications. But, the majority of doctoral programs only consider students eligible if they own a Master’s degree.

Generally, to become a bachelor in forensic psychology, students need to invest four years for their graduate degree. Then another couple of years to procure their Master’s degree!

Once done, they need to invest another four years in completing their doctorate in forensic psychology.

Step 2: Procuring a State Licensure 

After earning a doctorate, candidates specializing in forensic psychology will now need to procure state licensure.

In words of the American Board of Professional Psychology –

Every state needing candidates with a doctoral degree in psychology, should undergo examination for professional practice and complete their supervised hours.

Candidates can check with the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board to know about every state’s specific requirements. And only after fulfilling its terms, will a candidate receive state licensure in the field of forensic psychology.

But that’s not it. If you wish, you can also procure a professional certificate from the American Board of Professional Psychology.

Step 3: Look For Jobs Needing Forensic Psychologist

Once you get your doctorate, state licensure/professional certificate, candidates can start looking for posts that require a forensic psychologist.

You can take the conventional route where most doctorate holders join a law firm, police department, or organization. Here they will either have to earn an internship or complete the supervised hours of work.

Alternatively, you can begin your private practice and choose the clients and cases you wish to work on. But before you do that, start at a notable organization, gain real-time experience and then start your firm.

Step 4: Must Keep Studying To Maintain Their Licensure 

Now that you have begun your work as a forensic psychologist, you need to keep improving by learning. This line of work will always pose newer discoveries and complex cases. To ensure you are up for it, you also need to keep studying and improving your skill-set and approach.

The fortunate thing is that many notable organizations offer course studies at a minimal fee. Look to take up your suitable course and fulfill the in-person hours that different states require from their candidates.

The Expected Salary and Job Growth for a Forensic Psychologist

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the forecast for job growth is 14-28% for 2019-2028. The demand for skillful forensic psychologists also continues to rise rapidly.

Also, the BLS even points out that candidates with a doctorate or master’s degree in forensic psychology will benefit from the largest pool of job offers- each with high salaries.

  • In 2018-2019, the median annual pay for forensic psychologists was $78,030-$90,370.
  • Another report points out; forensic psychologists with 1-year experience will make $52,400 (give or take) per annum.
  • Whereas those with over a decade of experience earn over $96,110 on an annual basis

Some Common Forensic Psychology Job Titles for Its Respective Students

Now that you are aware of how to become a forensic psychologist and its median annual salary, it is time to look into its most ordinary job titles.

Area of Expertise – Adult Psychology involves gang activity, sex offenses, anger management issues, impulse control problems, and substance abuse issues.

Its standard job titles include – Forensic Psychologist in Adult Specialty and Adult Forensic Psychologist.

Area of Expertise – Family & Children Psychology involves child custody, substance abuse, child abuse, incest, and juvenile criminals.

Its standard job titles include –School Forensic Psychology, Forensic Psychologist in child and family specialty, Juvenile Forensic Psychologist, and Child and Family Forensic Psychologist.

Area of Expertise – Forensic Neuropsychology involves behavioral disorders, personality disorders, abuse and neglect, trauma, and genetic predisposition.

Its standard job titles include – Neuropsychologist Forensic Specialist, Forensic Neuropsychologist.

Area of Expertise – Law Enforcement, which involves public safety, psychological interventions, hostage negotiations.

Its commonest job titles include –Forensic Psychologist in law Enforcement, Law Enforcement Forensic Psychologist.

Final Words

Opportunities galore for a forensic psychology student! So follow the steps that tell you how to successfully become a forensic psychologist and reap its high salary jobs.

Hopefully, this post was useful to you. And for more posts on different educational topics, keep visiting here!