How to Become a Forensic Psychologist

Are you trying to find out how to become a forensic psychologist? Of course you are. You wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t. Forensic psychology is a specialized field of psychology involving criminal justice cases, and it is a sector that many people simply are not cut out for. If you feel like you would make the perfect forensic psychologist, you have an exciting road ahead of you. Here is a look at the path you may take to become a forensic psychologist.

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Forensic psychology is simply a branch of psychology, so you will spend much of your undergraduate degree learning about psychology as a whole. Many forensic psychologists work as clinical psychologists on their off time, so you can utilize this training for those situations in the future. General psychology is also a great foundation for forensic psychology, giving you the skills you need to evaluate clients in the future.

You will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology before moving on to your graduate degree programs. This should take approximately four years to complete your bachelor’s degree, depending on how much you commit to your education. Some students who enroll in online degree programs manage to complete their education in three years, but you may not have the chance to do that. You can speak with a school adviser to find out how long you may spend in an undergraduate degree.

Graduate Degree Programs

Once you earn your bachelor’s degree in psychology, you may move on to a master’s degree. This is when you will begin to concentrate your studies on forensic psychology. You will start incorporating aspects of criminal justice into your training so you may know more about law and criminal minds. Most psychology students will choose a concentration in grad school. This just happens to be one of several that you can choose from.

You should spend two years in a master’s degree program, and then you will move on to a doctoral degree in forensic psychology. This will take roughly three to five additional years to get through, making a total of nine to eleven years before you graduate with your degree. Forensic psychology is an incredibly time consuming career path, at least from the perspective of earning an education. Nevertheless, most forensic psychologists agree that it is a highly rewarding field to work in.

Job Searching

With your degree in hand, you will be able to look for jobs in forensic psychology. Roughly 34% of psychologists maintain their own private practice, but the majority of them work for employers in the psychology and criminal justice fields. You may be able to find work in a variety of locations, including:

  • Psychology firms
  • Civil courts
  • Criminal courts
  • Family courts
  • Law offices
  • Law enforcement offices
  • Prisons
  • Elementary schools
  • Secondary schools
  • Universities

Some forensic psychologists work in multiple areas throughout the year, and others specialize in one or two employment venues. Forensic psychology is an ever growing career field, and it is expected to expand at least 14% over the next ten years. If you start your educational program right now, you should see a high demand for your degree whenever you graduate from college.

Pros and Cons of Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology comes with its ups and downs, and you need to assess them before experiencing how to become a forensic psychologist. Consider the facts…

Pros

  • Immense job opportunities
  • New challenges around every corner
  • The ability to help people on a daily basis
  • Traveling opportunities
  • High demand in the future

Cons

  • Long-term educational commitments
  • Exposure to potentially dangerous patients
  • Involvement with stressful situations
  • Long, odd hours for work

With those factors in mind, you can determine if this truly is the career for you.

Conclusion

Learning how to become a forensic psychologist is not enough. You have to actually go through the extensive process above to work in this field. Even though you will spend years in school before starting your career, the time you spend will give you wisdom about the human mind, human behavior, criminal activity, and everything in between. For some people, that wisdom is the driving force that keeps them pushing through their educational programs – ultimately leading to their success.

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