One of the most frequently dramatized types of psychologists in courtroom television programs, forensic psychology is a field that fascinates many people. This has increased the popularity of forensic psychology programs, which are available at the Master’s degree level. Along with other types of psychology, the demand for forensic psychologists has been steadily growing. This cross-section of law and psychology is an interesting subject that can also be quite lucrative.
About Forensic Psychology
The field of forensic psychology combines aspects of law enforcement along with elements of human behavior and psychology. Students who attend this type of degree program will learn more about how to assess, diagnose, and detect mental illnesses. They will also learn about patterns of human behavior, particularly criminal behavior. Forensic psychologists also learn more about collecting evidence for use in a court of law, including how to examine, interpret, and present this information. With the ability to analyze human behavior and legal evidence, forensic psychologists can be quite useful members of a legal team. A forensic psychologist will perform a variety of duties as part of their job. This could include the following:
- Evaluate a defendant’s mental stability
- Counsel inmates or those on probation
- Evaluate a victim’s mental injuries
- Help with jury selection
- Help victims learn coping techniques to go back to their normal lives after a crime
- Assist with substance abuse counseling
- Assist with anger management counseling
What Jobs Does This Lead To?
With a degree in forensic psychology, graduates could go on to a wide range of different types of positions. This includes jobs in the law enforcement, government, academic, and social work sectors. The following are a few examples of job titles for graduates from this discipline:
- Expert Witness
- Correctional Officer
- Probation Officer
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- Jury Selection Consultant
- Family Counselor
Graduates could choose to work within the family courts, the criminal courts, or in a private law firm. They may also find work as private consultants in their own practice.
Because there are so many different types of positions that are available within this field, the corresponding salary prospects could also vary quite a bit. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a forensic psychologist at an entry level is $53,500 per year. Forensic psychologists who have over 20 years of experience and are seasoned professionals, on the other hand, can earn upwards of $86,000, by contrast. This will depend on whether or not the psychologist works on a full-time or part-time basis, as well as the field they find work in. According to place of employment, the average salaries for forensic psychologists are:
- State and government offices: $64,000
- Private contractors: $63,000
- Non-profit organizations: $59,600
- Hospitals and substance abuse clinics: $62,600
Recent job surveys have shown that the salaries of forensic psychologists have gone up in the past decade in the United States at a steady rate. This rate of salary growth is expected to continue at a rate of 15% until the year 2015.
Along with most other healthcare professionals, the need for forensic psychologists is expected to keep growing in the years to come. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment levels for forensic psychologists will grow at a rate of up to 19% per year up until the year 2018. This, combined with the corresponding increase in salary, will keep demand high for qualified forensic psychology graduates. Approximately one-third of these positions will be available through the federal government, while another third will be self-employed. The field remains competitive, however, which is why a graduate degree is usually required.