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Criminal Justice Articles

Forensic Psychologist career options

Forensic psychology is the application of psychology to the legal field. Forensic psychology helps answer questions and handles issues relating to all fields of law. A forensic psychologist is a highly trained psychological scientist. For the more lucrative and challenging jobs in forensic psychology, a doctoral degree is necessary.

Forensic psychologists have a large range of career options. Psychologists with only a bachelor's degree have limited opportunities, but they can gain experience and practice the field of psychology by taking entry-level jobs. A psychology major who wants to become a forensic psychologist can be a juvenile court counselor, probation officer, or social caseworker. All of these jobs utilize psychology and the law, the basic fundamentals of forensic psychologists.

Psychologists who earn a master's degree have many more opportunities, including the chance to work with a licensed forensic psychologist. Master's level forensic psychologists can work in mental health institutions, correctional facilities, research facilities, and government institutions. Many of these jobs will require that a licensed forensic psychologist oversee all recommendations made by master's level psychologists.

A licensed forensic psychologist has the most career options available, including the ability to go into private practice. When a forensic psychologist goes into private practice, they can counsel individuals with criminal backgrounds. Licensed psychologists can work for prison systems, mental institutions, law enforcement, the court systems, and colleges or universities. Some specific career paths include competency assessment, expert witness services, criminal profiling, jury consulting, psychotherapy services, civil and criminal case consulting, and university teaching.

Courts and attorneys use competency assessments done by forensic psychologists to determine a person's mental condition before or during a trial. Forensic psychologists are often called as expert witnesses to explain a defendant's mental condition to juries and give a decision on whether the defendant was mentally competent during the crime, or if they understand the proceedings of the court. A forensic psychologist's analysis can potentially cause a not guilty verdict for a defendant who committed a crime. There are forensic psychologists who base their career off being expert witnesses and competency specialists.

A licensed forensic psychologist in private practice can offer his or her services to local law enforcement. Police and detectives will utilize the forensic services to create profiles of suspects, defendants, and victims. Attorneys may also utilize these services to determine the psychological profile of a client. A forensic psychologist who works with a criminal defense attorney must understand that their analysis may potentially free a person who committed a vicious crime.

Universities and colleges will hire forensic psychologists to teach. A forensic professor may focus strictly on the field of forensic psychology, or dabble in a variety of psychology related courses. Competition for these positions is high, since many universities don't offer a degree specifically for forensic psychology. However, a forensic psychologist who becomes a psych professor can work with a school to develop and implement a forensic psychology degree program. Whichever career path a forensic psychologist takes, they can rest assured that the job will be full of challenges and rewards.

Schools Offering Criminology Courses:

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