Forensic psychologists are experts in the health and legal fields. Their role includes providing expertise during trials, inspecting crime scenes, assisting victims and providing their services as expert witnesses.
For instance, a forensic psychologist might determine whether or not a suspect can stand trial based on their mental health, explain how a crime affect a victim or assist the victim while they go through the trial process.
Becoming a forensic psychologist is a profession that allows you to make a difference in providing victims of sometimes traumatizing crimes with the support they need, contributing to creating a fair justice system and making the world a safer place.
What Are The Educational Requirements For Forensic Psychologists?
There are several ways to become a forensic psychologist. Most forensic psychologists have a Bachelor’s, a Master’s in Psychology and a Ph.D in Psychology or a Doctor of Psychology degree (Psy.D.).
Some experts follow a postdoctoral program to specialize in forensics. However, an increasing number of Ph.D programs are offering a specialization track in forensics.
Besides obtaining a college degree, some experts also go after a certification in forensic psychology. Some states require forensic psychologists to obtain a license after graduating.
What Do Forensic Psychologists Do?
Forensic psychologists conduct research. Part of their research is conducted in a purely academic fashion, but these experts get to analyze crime scenes as well. A forensic psychologist might for instance look at the evidence and at the crime scene to establish a profile of the criminal.
Forensic psychologists also play an important role in trials. Their job is to determine whether or not an individual can stand trial, provide expert witness testimony and work with the victim.
What Kind Of Skills Should A Forensic Psychologist Have?
Due to the nature of their work, forensic psychologists need to be comfortable around crime scenes and able to conduct interviews with suspects, criminals and victims.
These are the skills a good forensic psychologist should possess:
- A good understanding of scientific theory and academic research.
- Strong critical thinking and analytic skills.
- A good knowledge of cultural and social factors.
- An excellent knowledge of the law, including courtroom procedures and mental health law.
- Solid writing skills, for research and reports.
- Excellent oral presentation skills, even during stressful or emotional circumstances.
- The ability to talk to victims and provide them with the support and understanding they need.
- A passion for justice.
Where Do Forensic Psychiatrists Work?
Forensic psychiatrist can choose from a number of work environment depending on their expertise and interests:
- Most forensic psychiatrists work with law enforcement agencies and with the court system.
- Some experts work with inmates in correctional facilities.
- Some work in mental health institutions.
- A smaller percentage works in research facilities. Specializing in the theoretical aspect of criminal psychology will open this kind of opportunities for you.
- Some forensic psychologists work as independent consultants.
In the end, becoming a forensic psychologist is a great career choice for anyone interested in law, investigations and mental health. Forensic psychologists help the legal system understand criminals, contribute to making this system fair and provide victims with the support they need while going through a trial. From a more academic point of view, forensic psychologists are conducting valuable research that helps law enforcement deal with criminals and prevent crimes.
Forensic psychologists need to attend a college or a university for at least seven years. However, experts need to stay up to date with their training and might decide to pursue additional certifications in the future. Besides being ready to pursue an advanced degree, potential forensic psychologists need to be detail-oriented, possess some strong analytic skills and be willing to work in an environment that involves dealing with criminals, law enforcement and victims.
Legal.Education can help you find the right legal career. You should contact us if you are thinking about becoming a forensic psychologist.