Getting hired as a Criminal Psychologist
No one knows for certain why particular people commit crimes. Whether it is a violent crime or a white collar crime, it's important to understand what makes people do things that are illegal and can harm others. A criminal psychologist, also known as a forensic psychologist, studies criminal's behavior and background in order to gain a better grasp as to why people commit crime. In some cases, the criminal psychologist may not deal with the perpetrator one on one. In fact, in most cases they are there to help police and detectives create a criminal's psychological profile so they know what type of person to look for. The intention is to discover the purpose of certain crimes, why people have committed them, and what the underlying causes are from a psychological standpoint.
Criminal psychologists must have a solid background in sociology, psychology, and the human arts. A degree is necessary since this is a highly specialized field. Working with police and lawyers requires the criminal psychologist to have not only a certification and degree, but a solid background as well. Often, the job of the criminal psychologist is to serve as a profiler, so a deep knowledge and grasp on the human psyche is essential. Criminal psychologists must have excellent communication skills and be able to translate their theories and thoughts into the written word. Reports and files are the key to solving many criminal cases, so the psychologist must be able to dictate and express their findings in a clear and detailed manner keeping detectives up to date.
Forensic psychologists must serve as an expert witness in many court cases such as, divorce, custody, criminal, etc. Knowledge of the law and how the courts work is important because they will be speaking directly with attorneys and judges. Some criminal psychologists work as jury consultants too, meaning they help lawyers determine which potential jurors would be beneficial. Of course, the most important aspect of being a criminal psychologist is having the ability to provide a professional opinion as to whether someone is competent to stand trial. Many clients or defendants claim that they are insane, or incompetent, and should be allowed to have lesser charges or be proven not guilty. A number of tests will be performed, including background checks and interviewing those who know the defendant.
Research is a large part of being a criminal psychologist. Speaking to different people and people from all walks of life is essential, including asking the right questions. Sometimes, the job requires entering jails and talking to those already in prison. This can be a difficult task and might be stressful for some. One must have a thick skin when it comes to performing well in this field, and must be able to handle and comprehend the unstable minds of people who commit crimes. A doctoral degree is a must for this field, so criminal psychologists must have a long and proven educational track record.
Schools Offering Criminology Courses:
- BS in Criminal Justice - Forensic Psychology
- Graduate Certificate of Completion in Forensic Psychology
- M.A. Forensic Psychology
- Psy.D. Clinical Forensic Psychology
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- Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology/Forensic Psychology
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