How to become a Forensic Psychologist

This article provides in-depth information into What is a Forensic Psychologist? What Forensic Psychologists do? Degrees for Forensic Psychologists, Steps to become Forensic Psychologist and much more.

 The word forensic is defined as "the scientific method for investigation of crime".Those working in the civil courts often assess competency, provide second opinions, and provide psychotherapy to crime victims. Professionals working in the criminal courts conduct evaluations of mental competency, work with child witnesses, and provide an assessment of juvenile and adult offenders. Forensic psychology is often described as the merger of law and psychology. To become a forensic psychologist, the most frequent duty includes the psychological assessment of individuals who are involved, in one way or another, with the legal system.

Forensic psychologists are most normally authorized analysts who represent considerable authority in applying mental learning to lawful issues, both in the criminal and common fields. They hold graduate degrees in brain science, frequently a Ph.D. or a PsyD. Scientific brain science is a sub-discipline of brain research. It has its own particular expert associations, preparing projects, and research diaries. Legal therapists are found in the scholarly community, open administration, and the private area.

What does a Forensic Psychologist do ?

Forensic psychologists evaluate criminals to learn what their mindset and motives were at the time of an offence. They gauge what threat, if any, the offender will be to the public in the future. Their presence in courtrooms is often essential. Their evaluations, assessments and testimonies help inform the decisions of judges and juries. In addition, forensic psychologists often work with children who are caught in the middle of custody battles. They serve at-risk populations and trauma survivors by advocating for their wellness and justice in specific cases. Forensic psychology often plays a role in punishing and preventing crimes.

  • They examine mental state examinations of criminal litigants (craziness, competency to stand trial).

  • They help to facilitate the legal process by providing psychology expertise to various individuals in the legal system.

  • Directs and deal with child custody, violence risk assessment, and civil law.

  • Helps in meditation/dispute resolution and jury selection.

  • Evaluate insurance claims

  • Offer testimony in civil lawsuits

  • Provide psychotherapy services in family courts

  • Perform child custody evaluations

  • Investigate reports of child abuse

  • Conduct visitation risk assessments

Steps for becoming a Forensic Psychologist


High School Diploma Or GED

A high school diploma or GED are required to pursue a forensic psychology degree. If possible, students should take any psychology courses available and excel in life sciences such as biology and chemistry to improve their chances of admission to a strong psychology undergraduate program.


Completion Of Undergraduate Degree:

The rigorous coursework required in this profession begins in the undergraduate years. Most forensic psychologists will complete an undergraduate degree in psychology (typically a bachelor of science, or BS, degree), but that is not necessarily required. Students should ensure that they meet all prerequisites for their graduate program of choice during their undergraduate program. Common prerequisite courses include introductory level psychology classes as well as certain statistics classes. If available, students can use this time to take classes such as abnormal psychology and criminal psychology as well as to pursue any available internships in their chosen field. Among the ways one can take to become a forensic psychologist, the beginning stage is the same: winning a four-year certification from a completely licensed college or university. A set number of colleges may offer an undergrad program in brain research that spotlights forensic psychology, with examinations in the lawful parts of the field.


Pursue An Advanced Degree

After completing an undergraduate degree, students will need to apply to a graduate program. This is where students will be able to specialize in forensic psychology. Students should look for doctoral programs that have been accredited by the APA to ensure themselves the best chance at becoming licensed. Although licensing requirements vary by state, most states require that practising psychologists have earned a doctor of psychology (PsyD) or PhD in psychology in order to be licensed. Some therapists may be able to practice with a master of family therapy (MFT), master of social work (MSW) or other master’s level degree, but this is not true for forensic psychologists. During a doctoral program, students should expect to complete a thesis in the field of forensic psychology and to begin working under the supervision of licensed psychologists to start their professional field training.


Study For And Take The EPPP

The Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) is required in most states in order to become licensed. Students should take this exam as soon as they are eligible in their state, which is typically after they have completed the necessary educational work for their doctoral program.


Complete Required Supervised Practice Hours

 Students will start practising under the supervision of a licensed psychologist during their doctoral program. Each state requires a different number of supervised hours with some requiring postdoctoral practice hours as well. It is essential that students be aware of the requirements for their state and plan their practice hours accordingly.


Apply For Professional Licensure

When all the requirements for a specific state have been met, new psychologists can apply for state licensure from their local board of licensing


Seek A Job In Forensic Psychology

Once a psychologist has earned his or her license, they are able to seek out employment as an unsupervised forensic psychologist. Now is the time to reach out to other forensic psychologists, law enforcement agencies, prisons, and other contacts to look for a job.

Forensic Psychologist Salaries

Forensic Psychologist

Forensic Psychologist Degree Levels


There’s more than one route you can take in pursuing a career in forensic psychology. First, you can work toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology with an emphasis on forensics. Most psychology bachelor’s degree programs require a blend of science and liberal arts courses. You’ll typically be ready to take psychology electives by your junior year. Another pathway is to study for a degree in criminal justice, with an emphasis on forensic psychology. Any individual who wants to see himself as a forensic psychologist must go for a four-year bachelor's degree. Regardless of whether the students skip the master’s degree before getting a doctorate or seek after every one of the three degrees, a four-year college education will be required. 

Introduction to Psychology
  • Review of psychological standards.

  • Assessment of research information.

  • Knowing present or modern-day theories.


Recognition of mental development advancement and human inspiration and Develops understanding processes involved in learning and cognition.

Deviant Behavior
  • Information on the basic deviant behavior.

  • Types of deviant behavior and their origin.

  • Gives the ability to recognize deviant behavior.


Provides familiarity with different types of deviant behavior.

Criminal and Forensic Psychology
  • States mentality of a criminal.

  • Why and how they commit the crime.

  • Getting known to the unethical acts.


Provides Knowledge of the psychological basis for criminal acts and Using psychological techniques to understand the criminal mentality and their behavior.


Master's degrees in forensic psychology are rare. It’s more likely that you will earn your master’s in clinical psychology, with a title that reflects the subfield of psychology in which you’ve chosen to specialize, such as “clinical forensic psychology.”Clinical, developmental, social and cognitive psychologists are some of the most common practitioners applying their expertise to the law in the field of forensic’s a two-year degree program and it for those who want to have more specialized knowledge in forensic psychology and wants to choose a career in this field and the course will cover the basic and general knowledge of forensic psychology.

Mental Health policy
  • Taught broader overview of criminal laws.

  • Acknowledgment of potential lawful.

  • Understanding of lawful defenses.


Provides information about laws that deal with individuals suffering from the mental cause.

Domestic violence
  • Instruct about culprits of family violence.

  • Impact of the violence on the victims.

  • Signs of domestic violence.


Learning of aggressive behavior at home's effect on the criminal justice framework and social.

Psychological treatment of Adult offenders
  • How to prevent recidivism.

  • Capacity to tailor treatment systems.

  • Foresee probability of future recidivism.


Utilization of known prevention intervention methods and Examination of intervention and treatment options of criminals.


A doctoral program is useful for any student who is determined to turning into a psychological analyst and wants to have the capacity to maximize their expert potential.

Personality analysis
  • Various techniques in testing personality.

  • How to deal different personality traits.

  • Administration of various personality tests.


Comprehension of actuarial versus clinical identity forecasts and Supervise change in personality which occurs through external factors.

Sex offender assessment and treatment
  • Concepts for treating sex offenders.

  • Uses evidence-based treatments.

  • Application of specific legislation.


Knowing which theoretical models to utilize while assessing or treating a sex offender.

Clinical research method
  • The fundamental principle of clinical research.

  • Statistical analysis has been covered in course.

  • Building up trial plan design validity.


Deciding statistical significance of research information.

Forensic Psychologist Salaries:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median national annual salary for psychologists is $77,030.

Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience, and a variety of other factors. Salaries for forensic psychologists can be excellent, with the BLS reporting that the top 10 percent earned more than $124,520. As with most psychology careers, experience and chosen field of specialty play an enormous factor in salary. The BLS does not publish salary data specifically on forensic psychologists, however, the closest related profession-a traditional psychologist- was reported to be $86,510 in 2010. 

Job Growth

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of psychologists is expected to grow 14 percent through 2026, which is much faster than average. This growth will add 32,500 psychologists to the workforce. Why? Due to an aging population and health care costs associated with unhealthy lifestyles, personal and family problems and crime and punishment, there will be increased demand for forensic psychology professionals in schools, law enforcement agencies, social service agencies, consulting firms, and mental health centers.

With the growing interest in this popular field, jobs will most likely go to those with doctoral degrees, while master’s degree-holders will find the road to enter into the forensic psychology workplace highly competitive. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. According to psychology today, forensic psychology is a growing field. However, in order to take advantage of the increased demand, psychologists must be clinically competent with a practice-based firmly in scientific theory.

Concentrations for a Forensic Psychologist

Psychological assistant:

Psychological assistants work in prisons, juvenile detention centers and correctional facilities to assist higher-level psychologists with a variety of tasks. They may complete assessments, conduct clinical interviews, run groups with inmates, and perform other tasks as needed to support psychology staff members. To work as a psychological assistant in a forensic setting, you generally need to have at least a bachelor's degree in psychology or criminal justice.


Many forensic psychologists choose to focus their careers on research, helping to develop new and innovative methods of forensic psychology practice and interventions. They may specialize in finding new methods for jury selection, examine the impact of divorce or separation on children, research effective treatment methods for offenders, focus on psychological profiling, or research any other area that involves the interaction between the law and psychology.

Clinical forensic psychologist:

Many forensic psychologists are also trained in clinical psychology. They must have a doctorate in psychology – either a Ph.D. in psychology or a Psy.D, a doctor of psychology. Clinical forensic psychologists perform psychological evaluations to clients referred by courts or other legal organizations, provide individual and group counseling to mandated clients, provide treatment to sex offenders and perform dangerousness assessments to people convicted of a crime.

Stand out skills for a forensic psychologist

Strong communication skills: No matter what position you hold, strong communication skills are integral for anyone in the forensic psychology field. Careers like corrections counselors, victim advocates, and jury advisors all interact with people daily. Additionally, your career may require regular communication with inmates, victims of crimes, lawyers, and judges. Therefore, possessing strong listening and speaking skills is essential.

The ability to be objective: Because the field of forensic psychology deals with crime and the law, a career in this field can often become taxing and emotionally charged. It’s a necessary skill for forensics psychologists to separate themselves from these difficult moments with their clients so that they can carry out their work successfully.

Critical thinking skills: The forensic psychology field combines psychological concepts, counseling public policy, the legal system, and more. Because the field is interdisciplinary in nature, it’s vital to possess strong critical thinking skills.

Detail-oriented: Many forensic psychology jobs rely on perceptive observations and analysis. Observing body language and being especially attuned to a range of communication styles is imperative. If you work in corrections, responsibilities often include handling crisis management and counseling with inmates. Alleviating conflict starts with reading body language and using conflict resolution tactics.