Texas is a south-central state known for its cattle ranches and natural resources, but its leading-edge universities and thriving cities have led the way in diversifying the economy. According to the 2010 census, Texas is the second most populous state and ranks fifth in population growth since the 2000 census. It has three of the nine most populous cities in the nation. The long-range projections for population growth in Texas are staggering, so Texas might well offer the best opportunities of any state for students and practitioners of forensic psychology.
A forensic psychologist applies a specialized knowledge of psychology to the realms of criminal justice and/or law. This application can assume any of several forms, depending upon the psychologist’s specialty. The type of education needed will depend upon the specialty you’re interested in. In general, you need a degree in psychology and at least a minor in a field in justice or law.
Here are some of the many specializations within the field:
- A probation officer can work with juvenile or adult offenders, ensuring they follow the conditions of their probation, and ascertaining their progress in reentering society. They can assist in meeting vocational and educational needs.
- An expert witness can provide testimony in courts for prosecutors or defense attorneys as to a defendant’s mental capacity when committing a crime, or testify as to whether someone is fit to stand trial.
- A jury consultant can help a prosecutor or defense attorney pick a jury, by assembling a mock jury, conducting research, providing questionnaires, etc.
- A court liaison can serve as a bridge between the court and a police department, handling requests for evidence, maintaining documentation, logging and issuing subpoenas, etc.
- A researcher can study various aspects of criminal justice in order to improve treatment of inmates or victims of crimes.
- A victim advocate studies patterns of victimization, helping to determine how to provide better support and representation for victims. An advocate assists and counsels victims during court proceedings.
According to SalaryBox.com, the minimum forensic psychologist salary in Texas is $46,120, the average salary is $82,460 and the maximum is $107,630.