Skip to content

Forensic Psychologist : A Complete Career Guide 2024 Updated

Becoming a Forensic Psychologist

You may be wondering about the career perspective of a Forensic Psychologist. This detailed guide will answer your queries like What is a Forensic Psychologist, Steps to becoming a forensic psychologist, How to become a Forensic Psychologist, and career & future growth. and mostly asked what does a forensic psychologist do?

What is a Forensic Psychologist?

The American Board of Forensic Psychology defines forensic psychology as “the application of the science and profession of psychology to questions and issues relating to law and the legal system.”

Forensic psychologists work with a team of lawyers, judges, and police where scientific knowledge and expertise are needed.

A forensic psychologist might be called upon to evaluate an individual whose mental status has been called into question to determine whether that individual was competent to testify in a court of law.

Read Also: Psychology courses free online for beginners

He or she might be asked to examine a child to determine whether the child understood a lie from the truth or understood right from wrong.

Forensic psychologists can work with victims of crime to help them deal with their trauma and help to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The more glamorous role forensic psychologists play on television and in movies, solving crimes and finding criminals with psychology, is much less common in real life.

What Does a Forensic Psychologist Do?

Forensic psychologist applies their knowledge of psychological concepts and principles and implements them to work within nearly every facet of the law and the criminal justice system.

For example, they evaluate the well-being of children to weigh in on parental disputes over custody rights. Forensic psychologists confirm the existence of mental health ramifications for victims in civil and corporate lawsuits.

Forensic psychologists also assess the psychological health and sanity of criminal defendants in order to decide whether or not they are mentally competent to stand trial. Helping law enforcement authorities solve a wide variety of crimes, forensic psychologists aid in profiling and locating unidentified subjects, interviewing victims, and interrogating criminal suspects.

Forensic psychologists play an integral role in correctional applications and processes, too. In jails and prisons, they evaluate inmates’ mental and emotional well being, consult with criminal attorneys, correctional officers, and other members of prison staff to monitor each inmate’s progress toward his or her rehabilitation. 

Upon an inmate’s release, forensic psychologists also work with probation officers to ensure that probationers have access to additional treatments, therapy, and any other resources that might help minimize their chances of reoffending in the future.

How Do Forensic Psychologists Help Police?

Police departments often employ forensic psychologists to help them better understand the psychological underpinnings of criminal behavior. Forensic psychologists might help police by conducting research into criminality.

The research of forensic psychologists is generally used by police to improve their ability to predict criminal behavior and devise strategies for effectively addressing crime.

Likely the most well-known aspect of forensic psychology is the process of criminal profiling. Profiling involves investigations into criminal cases in order to create a picture of who the perpetrator of the crime might be, thereby assisting police in apprehending the individual. Forensic psychologists use facts from the case, including physical evidence, as well as their knowledge of human behavior, in order to create the profile of the criminal.

Most of the ways in which forensic psychologists help police have much more to do with everyday tasks than they do with profiling and other high-profile jobs. Forensic psychologists will conduct child custody evaluations and investigate reports of child or elder abuse. 

Many law enforcement agencies also employ forensic psychologists to train their staff to be more aware of common mental health issues and how they impact behavior. Conducting psychological screenings of potential law enforcement officers is another way that forensic psychologists help police. Their evaluations of potential officers help identify those who are fit for duty and those who are not.

Here are the steps to becoming a forensic psychologist

What Education is Required to Become a Forensic Psychologist?

Enthusiasts usually search on the net that how to become a forensic psychologist. The first step in becoming a forensic scientist is to obtain an undergraduate degree. A bachelor’s degree in general psychology is highly recommended. The program is typically completed in four academic years.

Most baccalaureate degree programs consist of about 120 hours, including general education and psychology courses. Individual schools set their own requirements, but 120 hours is usually required for a Bachelor of Arts, with 30 to 35 units completed in psychology.

After undergraduate school future, forensic scientists need to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree. Individual graduate schools set their own requirements for admission, but a “B” average in undergraduate work is usually the minimal undergraduate achievement acceptable for entrance. Some schools may also require a master’s degree to secure a place in a psychology doctoral program.

To obtain a Ph.D. a student must plan and carry out original research to contribute new information to the body of psychological knowledge. Carrying out a research project can take three to five years. 

After performing research and writing a dissertation on his or her findings, the graduate student is required to read his or her paper and defend its thesis to a committee of forensic psychology professors. Some schools require that the graduate student’s paper be accepted for publication in a refereed psychology journal before he or she can graduate.

How to Get and Keep a Forensic Psychologist License?

Having obtained a graduate degree, the future forensic scientist needs to become licensed in order to practice. Each state has a Board of Psychology consisting of psychologists who regulate practice in their state. This is done to protect patients and other consumers from fraudulent or harmful practices. 

State boards require candidates for licensure to have supervised experience working in a clinical psychology facility and to pass at least one licensing examination.

The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) consists of 225 multiple-choice questions administered by computer. The EPPP is a tool of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

Although all fifty states require candidates for licensure to pass the EPPP, individual states also enforce their own individual licensing requirements. In California, for example, candidates for licensure, in addition to the EPPP, must also pass the California Psychology Supplemental Exam (CPSE), consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions. 

The CPSE is taken after the candidate has passed the EPPP and performed 3000 hours of professional clinical work. The test was developed by the California State Board of Psychology along with the State Bureau of Consumer Affairs. 

The State of Texas also requires candidates to pass the Oral Examination and the Jurisprudence Examination, as well as completion of two years of professional clinical experience.

Candidates in New York State are required to complete coursework in identifying and reporting child abuse as mandated by law, in addition to their Ph.D. requirement. Candidates must complete 2 years of professional experience.

Requirements for license renewal also vary somewhat from state to state. Continuing education is required to keep licensed psychologists up to date in their education and practice. 

The number of hours of continuing education and what courses are acceptable are determined by the individual state boards. Future forensic psychologists should look up their states’ requirements for licensure and maintaining their licenses.

Where Does a Forensic Psychologist Work?

Forensic psychologists typically work in the following environments:

  • Courts
  • Correctional facilities
  • Law firms
  • Forensic hospitals
  • Academic institutions
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Government and private hospitals
  • Youth programs facilities
  • Research firms
  • Private practice

Forensic Psychologist at Last

Once the forensic psychologist has his or her license in hand, he or she is ready either to go to work for the court system or to open a private practice, or both. County personnel departments can be contacted for openings and applications and forensic psychologists can open offices and announce their services in publications such as Psychology Today. Good luck!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the salary for a forensic psychologist?

As of October 27, 2022, the median pay for forensic psychologists is $66,458, however, the range is frequently between $60,018 and $74,298.
According to a survey, the average yearly salary for a forensic psychologist in the US is $147,585. That equates to about $70.95 per hour, in case you need a quick pay calculator.

How to be a forensic psychologist for the FBI?

A bachelor’s degree or higher in behavioral or social sciences, such as forensic psychology, is required for victim specialists. Additionally, three or more years of experience working with victims from other cultures in a therapeutic, psychological, or legal setting are required by the FBI.

Steps to becoming a forensic psychologist

1. Acquire your bachelor’s degree in either general psychology or forensic psychology.
2. Complete all of your undergraduate and graduate studies to get a PhD or PsyD in psychology.
3. Complete 3,000 hours of supervised work experience.
4. Submit in your application to get a license to take the Professional Practice Examination in Psychology.
5. The Exam for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is what you need to do.
6. You may choose to take the California Psychology Laws and Ethics Examination (CPLEE) or the California Psychology Supplemental Examination (CPSE).
7. Start your job as a forensic psychologist in California.
8. Get your California psychology license renewed.

Article Submitted by


  • skillshouter Team

    At SkillShouter, we help you find the best tutorials, courses, and certifications online. Experts come together to handpick great courses for needy learners. We provide demanding high-quality, well-researched reviews, and comparisons for those looking to start online and campus courses.

    View all posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *