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Forensic Psychology: Crime, Investigation and Advising

Forensic psychology is more complex than creating criminal profiles and it originated at the end of the 1800s. Learn more about this field that is becoming more popular.

By Halla Mannering
Nov 2, 2022 4:15 PMMar 10, 2023 2:56 PM
Forensic psychology
(Credit: VectorMine/Shutterstock)


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Forensic psychology is a field that continues to grow as new advancements in technology and criminal justice are made. This career path might be a good fit for someone who has a passion for investigation, justice and psychology. Choosing this job also means dedicating oneself to the pursuit of truth. Here’s what forensic psychology is and what it means to choose this field.

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology originated at the end of the 1800s. Since then, the field has thrived and continued to make contributions to important matters.

Forensic psychology is a career that allows for further learning, important discoveries and continued collaboration with other professionals. It’s estimated that there are about 7,500 forensic psychologists in the U.S. More schools than ever are providing academic tracks for those that want to pursue forensic psychology.

Read more: What Can You Do With A Psychology Degree?

What Do Forensic Psychologists Do?

Popular television shows and podcasts have popularized forensic psychology, but it’s more complex than just creating criminal profiles. Forensic psychologists can act as consultants and advisors. They typically report to the court or law enforcement and help carry out investigations.

Forensic psychology requires a wide variety of strengths. Strong analytical thinking and the ability to adapt are necessary skills to succeed in the field. Forensic psychologists can use these skills to deal with criminal cases, but civil matters are also a part of the job. From insurance disputes to custody complications, forensic psychologists can play an important role in a variety of situations.

While testifying in court and sharing findings with investigative teams are part of some forensic psychology job descriptions, popular media has skewed a large part of what this career is. This job actually provides an opportunity for something different each day.

Forensic Psychology Degrees

There are many different degrees within the psychology field. And having the appropriate academic experience is important to pursue a career in forensic psychology.

Most people that are successful in forensic psychology have at least their master’s degree. While clinical license requirements vary by location, most states require a doctorate. Various states will have their own licensing and approval process and may require relocating.

Forensic psychology can also be a lucrative field. PayScale reports that the average forensic psychologist makes $72,828 yearly. While the pay rate can be enticing, many people become forensic psychologists because they’re passionate about investigation and justice.

Forensic Psychology Specialties

While forensics is an area within the broader psychology field, it’s still possible to pick an even more refined specialty. Some forensic psychologists specialize in investigative matters or juvenile cases.

Choosing a specialty will determine what this career’s daily tasks and responsibilities will look like. Taking into account what’s enjoyable and not enjoyable about a job can help narrow down options to find a specialty that makes the most sense.

Forensic Psychology Skills

Those considering a career in forensic psychology should take a few different things into account.

The subject matters forensic psychologists deal with can be heavy. Dealing with traumatic cases can put a large amount of pressure on the professionals involved. It’s important that forensic psychologists can process the information they receive and deal with their own emotions in a healthy, productive way.

Committing to the education forensic psychology requires can be overwhelming. However, it’s important to remember this is a growing and developing field.

This may not seem like an important factor, but public speaking is a necessary skill for those choosing this career path. Testifying in court and reporting findings requires the ability to summarize and present effectively. However, public speaking is a skill that one can continue to develop.

Choosing Forensic Psychology

Dedicating oneself to forensic psychology is an important decision. In joining this field, the possibilities are endless and job opportunities continue to arise. Forensic psychology is an excellent choice for those wanting to continually learn and develop both their individual and professional strengths.

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