What is Forensic Psychology?
Hollywood and the television industry have made forensic psychology an attractive career option for a generation of students. The good news is that while forensic psychology is not exactly as portrayed in the entertainment world, it’s still a fascinating field with many career options.
Forensic psychology refers to professional psychologists who apply their skills to aid the legal system and those who are in it, both victims and investigators. It’s a specialized branch of psychology that connects the law with psychological skills. Those who work as forensic psychologists can come from different disciplines, including clinical, developmental, social, and cognitive psychology.
This area of psychology has always been one of great interest. People have long wanted to better understand what makes criminals commit crimes and get a clearer picture of what leads to antisocial or aggressive behavior. These are some of the many areas where a forensic psychologist might focus their efforts.
How Touro University Prepares Forensic Psychologists
Touro University Worldwide’s online Masters of Science in Forensic Psychology is the perfect program for individuals seeking career options in this challenging field or who would like to pursue a doctoral degree in Forensic Psychology after completing their Masters degree.
TUW’s MS in Forensic Psychology is designed for those who want to understand criminal behavior and the role psychology plays in the legal system. Graduates often pursue careers in victim advocacy, probation and parole, jury consultation, and crime analysis.
The university also offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Concentration in Forensic Psychology for those just beginning their journey into this specialized field of psychology.
What Forensic Psychologists Do
Forensic psychologists work in many fields. Because of this unique position, the work of a forensic psychologist can vary. For example, those working in forensic psychology might do some of the following:
- Provide psychological services for those who have been touched by the criminal justice system.
- Work for a criminal court in determining whether a suspected criminal suffers from mental illness.
- Provide treatment to convicted criminals who are recovering from substance abuse.
- Evaluate children in suspected abuse cases.
- Help children prepare to give testimony in court.
- In cases where they work directly with criminals, forensic psychologists may determine their mental competency, assess a criminal’s chances of committing a crime again, testify as an expert witness, and make sentencing recommendations.
How to Get into A Career in Forensic Psychology
Given the nature of their specialty, forensic psychologists can work in many different places. Some work for private practices. Others work directly for prisons, rehabilitation centers, law enforcement, court systems, schools, and government agencies.
Within the field, forensic psychologists may focus on specific types of cases. For example, some will work primarily in cases involving the abuse of children. Others may focus on evaluating the fitness of convicted criminals to reenter society.
In all areas, research is a key component of the job, according to the American Psychological Association. For example, a forensic psychologist might search for similarities among certain types of criminals to best assess potential outcomes. This research could involve interviewing criminals and even their victims.
Job growth in the field is strong. While the federal government does not track forensic psychology specifically, the number of psychologists overall is expected to grow 3% by 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Also, the pay is significant, with the average salary of psychologists reaching $98,230 in May 2019.
For those with an interest in psychology and the law, a career as a forensic psychologist might provide the perfect fit. It is a challenging field but a highly rewarding one.