Psychologists who specialise in criminal psychology are among the most well-known in the psychology field, thanks to shows like Criminal Minds and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which have become more popular on television.
Millions of Americans tune in each week to see actors playing criminal psychologists testify in court about the mental health of a defendant.
Criminal psychology focuses on the mental and behavioural states of suspected offenders who will testify at trials as one of the most important components of the criminal justice and legal systems.
The study of criminals’ minds for deviant actions, motives, emotions, thoughts and mental health illnesses involves many people who are directly involved in criminal investigations.
As a criminal psychologist, you’ll be able to combine your love of crime novels and your interest in the mysteries of the human mind into a rewarding profession in the criminal justice system. Training for criminal psychologists is required because of the high level of responsibility and depth of knowledge required in this discipline.
As a criminal psychologist, you must have a thorough awareness of the laws governing mental health and criminal behaviour, as well as a deep understanding of psychology itself. To become a criminal psychologist, you’ll need to meet all of the following requirements.
Educational Requirements to Become a Criminal Psychologist
A bachelor’s degree in psychology, criminal justice, or a comparable discipline is the first step toward a career in criminal psychology. Criminal psychology may be offered as an undergraduate degree at select American universities, however, most undergraduate degrees of a similar kind will be accepted for graduate school applications.
A doctorate in criminal or forensic psychology is required of all aspiring criminal psychologists, and it typically takes students between five and seven years to complete. PsyD and PhD students will learn about violence, criminal law, psychology in the law, mental health assessments, and trauma cases in a demanding curriculum.
The Combination of Education and Work Experience
Students pursuing a PhD or PsyD degree must undergo an internship under the guidance of experienced psychologists that lasts at least one year.
Criminal psychologists are not required to take a postdoctoral fellowship, however, it is strongly advised that they do so in order to gain more expertise in the area.
In order to get started in the competitive profession, many new graduates work for law enforcement agencies, mental health facilities or criminal justice departments.
Certification and Licensure
At least 3,000 hours of practice in the discipline must be completed before a doctorate-level criminal psychologist can lawfully practise in the court or prison system.
Some states need criminal psychologists to pass a written examination that includes both written and oral questions as part of their licensure process.
The American Board of Professional Psychology encourages criminal psychologists to become certified (ABPP).
Criminal and forensic psychologists earn an average yearly pay of $86,380, or $41.53 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States.
Employment in criminal psychology is predicted to expand at a rate of 22 per cent between now and 2020, in addition to a satisfying average pay with the possibility to achieve a significant six-figure wage. Criminal psychologists are in high demand, making now a great moment to begin the training required to enter the field.
Jobs in Criminal Psychology and Job Descriptions
A criminal psychologist’s day includes visiting crime scenes, studying crime scene photographs, collaborating with law enforcement, giving legal counsel, and giving testimony in court. Particularly, daily responsibilities could consist of:
- Quick arrival at a crime site after a crime has been committed
- Examining and providing guidance on legal documentation
- Speaking with witnesses in advance of a trial
- Analysing the nature of the crime through research
- Interviewing more witnesses to the crime or those familiar with the suspect
- Assessing the likelihood that a criminal will perform the same offence again
- Communicating findings orally and in writing
- Preserving the case’s and its results’ records
- Keeping up with legislation and case law
- Looking for patterns and specifics in a case’s details
- Executing and interpreting psychological exams
How Much Money Does a Criminal Psychologist Make in a Year?
Criminal psychologists make an average of $57,147 per year, according to PayScale. However, the pay range is from a low of $29,000 per year to far above $95,000 per year (June 2022 data).
The income of a criminal psychologist is mostly influenced by two variables. The most important factor affecting pay is how long a person has worked in the industry. The city in which one works will also have a significant impact on pay.
Criminal psychologists who practise in large cities or municipalities with a high volume of forensic cases will make more money than those who operate in small towns or rural locations.
Criminal psychologists (classified under “psychologists, all other”) earned an average yearly salary of $98,010 in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.