Forensic Psychologist Jobs & Forensic Psychology Career Guide 2024

What is a Forensic Psychologist?

Forensic Psychologists are licensed psychologists interested in psychology as it pertains to the law. These mental-health professionals utilize their knowledge of psychology to help solve legal concerns in a variety of settings. Along with general psychology training, Forensic Psychologists have extensive knowledge of the legal system, as well as ethics and professionalism. These psychologists are committed to lifelong learning, especially when it comes to the connection between psychology and law. Forensic Psychologists are adaptive problem solvers who work independently and as part of a team to study, understand, and solve often-complicated legal matters.

What Does a Forensic Psychologist Do?

The field of Forensic Psychology is broad and psychologists specializing in forensics have an equally diverse range of responsibilities.

Any part of the legal system with a psychological element will involve a forensic psychologist.

For example, forensic psychologists may perform the following roles and duties while aiding law enforcement:

  • Research crimes and individuals
  • Complete witness investigations
  • Interview suspects and persons of interest
  • Provide advice on psychological and legal matters
  • Help in establishing criminal profiles
  • Assessing the mental competency of suspects
  • Testifying in court

A forensic psychologist may also help defense attorneys in the following ways:

  • Aiding in the selection of jurors
  • Assessing prosecution witnesses
  • Helping establish specific defenses

In addition, in family law, a forensic psychologist may:

  • Assess threat levels of involved parties
  • Evaluate parents in child custody cases
  • Evaluate children in family law cases
  • Recommend legal action

Forensic psychologists also provide input in policymaking in the following ways:

  • Assess corrections systems’ mental health challenges and needs
  • Help formulate pro-mental health policies in civil, criminal, and family law
  • Work with inmates to formulate positive mental health programs

Due to popular television programs and movies with a focus on crime, Forensic Psychology has gained more popularity in recent years. However very few Forensic Psychologists facilitate criminal profiling. This investigative tool is often assigned to highly-trained professionals in the law enforcement field.

Where Do Forensic Psychologists Work?

Forensic Psychologists work in a variety of settings. Many work in corrections facilities, police departments, outpatient care centers, or hospitals. Some dedicate their working hours to forensic psychology research or teaching others about the field in colleges and universities. Government agencies also employ Forensic Psychologists.

What Career Options are Available to a Forensic Psychologist?

  • Correctional Psychologist – designing programs for correctional facilities
  • Forensic Scientist – working in forensics labs or medical examiners’ offices
  • FBI Special Agent – supporting the FBI’s mission of public safety by analyzing motives and providing professional insights
  • Jury consultant – assisting law firms with a wide variety of tasks including scientific jury selection, opening statement writing and preparing witnesses for deposition

Forensic Psychology in Popular Culture

There are several famous forensic psychologists in popular culture:

  1. Dr. Hannibal Lecter from “The Silence of the Lambs”
  2. Dr. Jason Bull from “Bull” – This character is based on the real-life forensic psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw.
  3. Dr. Wendy Carr from “Mindhunter” – This character is based on the real-life forensic psychologist Ann Wolbert Burgess.
  4. Dr. Samantha Waters from “Profiler”
  5. Dr. Tony Hill from “Wire in the Blood”

It goes without saying that whilst there are many accuracies in these portrayals of the field of forensic psychology, they really cannot be relied up as providing a truly accurate representation of what your day to day work would be like.

How to Become a Forensic Psychologist

How long does it take to become a forensic psychologist?

It typically takes 10-12 years in total to become a forensic psychologist depending upon your state and the educational route you take.

Educational Requirements

No matter what type of psychologist you want to become, you must complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. After that, requirements depend on state criteria.

Although not always required, a master’s degree in psychology or forensic psychology can enhance your qualifications.

A doctorate in psychology is essential for practicing as a forensic psychologist in many states and considered preferable for many roles even if not a state requirement. Learn more about a PhD in Forensic Psychology.

 

 

 

Specialized Training

During or after your doctoral studies, complete an internship that provides direct experience in forensic psychology. This is often a requirement for licensure. Some states require a postdoctoral residency, especially for specialization in forensic psychology.

Specialized training in forensic psychology covers a wide range of skills, including, but not limited to:

  • Conducting individual mental health assessments
  • Developing profiles of suspects
  • Procedures for interviewing suspects
  • Determining mental status from a legal perspective

A forensic psychologist will also receive training in the practical application of the legal system:

  • Court procedures
  • Evidence collection and preservation
  • Law Enforcement Database training
  • Safety procedures and protocols

If a forensic psychologist works on civil and family court matters, they might receive training:

  • Interviewing family members
  • Performing threat assessments
  • Interviewing children
  • Writing formal evaluations

Certification and Licensing

In order to practice in specific states throughout the country as a forensic psychologist, you must obtain a license front that state. Every state has its idiosyncrasies, but most states have a basic process you must follow.

At a minimum, to qualify for a license in psychology, you must:

Each state has a licensing administration agency. Every agency has basic routines for processing applications, determining licensing eligibility, and awarding licenses.

Application and Fee

You must fill out an application package. Each application package will include the following:

  • Application form with basic contact and education information
  • Clinical Experience Summary form
  • Essay questions (usually five to ten questions pertaining to your experience and knowledge)

You will also have to provide the following:

  • A Graduate Program Summary and Course form
  • Internship verification with your supervisor’s review
  • Reference form of professionals you have worked with
  • A summary of your pre and post-degree clinical psychology work experience

Every application process will also have a fee that is usually a few hundred dollars. With most states, you will also supply them with an updated version of your resume.

Licensure Examination

To obtain your license, you must take and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).

Once your application is processed, the ASPPB will accept you if you meet their eligibility criteria and set up the exam. There are 225 multiple-choice questions on the exam. You must get a score of at least 500, or 70% of the questions answered correctly.

Board Determination

Your state psychology board will be sent your exam score, and that board will review your application and determine your licensure eligibility.

 

Certification Exam

Once you have received your license to practice, you must pass the ASPBB written and oral examination for forensic psychologists. If you pass that, you receive Specialty Board Certification in Forensic Psychology.

State Reciprocity

If you hold a current license, you can provide the following to avoid having to take the EPPP and go through the licensing process:

You will have to also pay the fee and submit a signed Verification of Licensure/Certification from Another Jurisdiction form.

Continuing Education Requirements

Every state licensing board has continuing education requirements. To renew your license after the specified term, you must complete this training and education before you apply for renewal.

Each state awards continuing education credits based on the activities you complete. You can complete direct coursework from an approved list, approved workshops, and seminars. In most states, you can teach education training sessions and receive credit.

You will also have to complete ethics training. Ethics training can include, but is not limited to:

  • Patient Privacy Laws
  • Maintaining professional relationships and sexual harassment training
  • Legal handling of finances
  • Education specific to processes related to forensic psychology

How Much Money Does a Forensic Psychologist Earn?

Forensic Psychologists earn an average annual salary of $101,000 but that figure can vary based on specialization, location, and years of service.

What Skills and Traits Are Important in the Forensic Psychology Field?

Forensic Psychologists must possess strong communication, listening, and critical thinking skills. Strong leadership skills and the capacity to express oneself verbally and through writing are key strengths of a Forensic Psychologist. It is important for them to fully understand social and cultural issues. As trained professionals, these psychologists may need to interact with offenders and witnesses.

Knowledge in mental-health, law, and courtroom practices is also important. These professionals must be quick on their feet, ready and willing to present to a group of people with very little time to prepare. It is necessary for them to have strong stress-management and coping skills. They must be self-starters and have an excellent work ethic, always motivated, and committed to their field.

Legal knowledge and the understanding of law as it pertains to psychology is a necessity. A desire to keep up-to-date on advances in the field and willingness to learn and teach new information and skills is very important in the field of Forensic Psychology.

Latest Forensic Psychologist Job Listings

PositionCompanyLocationPosted
Forensic PsychologistForensic Assessment Services LLC Towson, Maryland US06/04/2024
The job entails the court-ordered assessment of competency to stand trial and dangerousness … More
Family Court Program Coordinator (Psychologist)Maine State Forensic Service August, Maine US06/03/2024
More
MENTAL HEALTH CLINICIAN (OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER) AFSCME 3696 (Mental Health Unit)Cook County Chicago, Illinois US05/31/2024
Job SummaryUnder the direct supervision of the Supervising Psychologist in the Mental Health Resource Unit, collaborates with attorneys to provide forensic clinical services to clients. Engages with individuals, families, schools and other community service providers to provide case assessment and evaluation, identify needed resources, and provide alternative sentencing or dispositional recommendations or options. Ensures that each client is provided with linkage to the appropriate … More
Sexual Assault Crisis Counselor (Mental Health Specialist)Indiana University Bloomington, Indiana US05/31/2024
The Office of Student Life is focused on building a strong foundation to ensure every student’s Indiana University experience is positive, safe, healthy, and meaningful. The Office of Student Life staff and multiple departments aim to help students navigate their time at IU, providing the tools they need to be successful in school and after graduation. Students are our priority, and their health, safety, and overall well-being are our core mission.Indiana University’s Counseling and Psychological … More
Forensic PsychologistWestern State Hospital Lakewood, Washington US05/28/2024
Western State Hospital’s Gage Center of Forensic Services (CFS), situated within the historic Fort Steilacoom Campus, is currently seeking a dedicated Forensic Psychologist. We are eager to welcome driven and passionate individuals to join our team and contribute to one of two forensic programs: Competency Restoration (Comp Rest) and Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI), both operating under RCW 10.77. As these programs undergo review and evolution, we offer an opportunity for those interested … More
Occupational Therapist – Tarnanthi Ward, Forensic Mental HealthNorthern Adelaide Local Health Network, SA Health Glenside, South Australia AU05/23/2024
Northern Adelaide Local Health Network Forensic Mental Health Service Glenside Salary: AHP2 – $86,950 – $100,729 p.a. / AHP3 – $102,641 – … More
General PsychologistCorrectional Health Services, Nyc Health and Hospitals New York, New York US05/23/2024
Correctional Health Services, a division of NYC Health + Hospitals, is seeking forensically-trained, NYS-licensed psychologists for full-time and part-time positions in the Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation Court Clinics for Manhattan and Brooklyn/Staten Island. Court … More
Inpatient PsychologistWestern State Hospital Lakewood, Washington US05/17/2024
Provide psychological services and behavioral programming on a civil commitment ward for adult patients.Develop specific behavioral treatment programs, consulting with staff to ensure consistent approaches to patient care.Provide clinical oversight of the ward program, individual and group therapy, treatment planning, assessment, and training of staff.Provide psychological and risk evaluations.Attend and participate in the treatment team, psychology department, and other collaborative meetings.Participate … More
Position
The job entails the court-ordered assessment of competency to stand trial and dangerousness … More
Company
Forensic Assessment Services LLC
Location
Towson, Maryland US
Posted
06/04/2024
Company
Maine State Forensic Service
Location
August, Maine US
Posted
06/03/2024
Position
Job SummaryUnder the direct supervision of the Supervising Psychologist in the Mental Health Resource Unit, collaborates with attorneys to provide forensic clinical services to clients. Engages with individuals, families, schools and other community service providers to provide case assessment and evaluation, identify needed resources, and provide alternative sentencing or dispositional recommendations or options. Ensures that each client is provided with linkage to the appropriate … More
Company
Cook County
Location
Chicago, Illinois US
Posted
05/31/2024
Position
The Office of Student Life is focused on building a strong foundation to ensure every student’s Indiana University experience is positive, safe, healthy, and meaningful. The Office of Student Life staff and multiple departments aim to help students navigate their time at IU, providing the tools they need to be successful in school and after graduation. Students are our priority, and their health, safety, and overall well-being are our core mission.Indiana University’s Counseling and Psychological … More
Company
Indiana University
Location
Bloomington, Indiana US
Posted
05/31/2024
Position
Western State Hospital’s Gage Center of Forensic Services (CFS), situated within the historic Fort Steilacoom Campus, is currently seeking a dedicated Forensic Psychologist. We are eager to welcome driven and passionate individuals to join our team and contribute to one of two forensic programs: Competency Restoration (Comp Rest) and Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI), both operating under RCW 10.77. As these programs undergo review and evolution, we offer an opportunity for those interested … More
Company
Western State Hospital
Location
Lakewood, Washington US
Posted
05/28/2024
Position
Northern Adelaide Local Health Network Forensic Mental Health Service Glenside Salary: AHP2 – $86,950 – $100,729 p.a. / AHP3 – $102,641 – … More
Company
Northern Adelaide Local Health Network, SA Health
Location
Glenside, South Australia AU
Posted
05/23/2024
Position
Correctional Health Services, a division of NYC Health + Hospitals, is seeking forensically-trained, NYS-licensed psychologists for full-time and part-time positions in the Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation Court Clinics for Manhattan and Brooklyn/Staten Island. Court … More
Company
Correctional Health Services, Nyc Health and Hospitals
Location
New York, New York US
Posted
05/23/2024
Position
Provide psychological services and behavioral programming on a civil commitment ward for adult patients.Develop specific behavioral treatment programs, consulting with staff to ensure consistent approaches to patient care.Provide clinical oversight of the ward program, individual and group therapy, treatment planning, assessment, and training of staff.Provide psychological and risk evaluations.Attend and participate in the treatment team, psychology department, and other collaborative meetings.Participate … More
Company
Western State Hospital
Location
Lakewood, Washington US
Posted
05/17/2024