Forensic psychology integrates the science of psychology into our justice system. Forensic psychologists who work within the civil and criminal arenas of the legal system. They work with officials from the courts, the government, law enforcement and other organizations.
Duties of a Forensic Psychologist
Television shows have portrayed forensic psychologists as part bloodhound and part detective; in reality, their jobs aren’t normally that glamorous. Depending upon the specialized field of the forensic psychologist, the psychologist’s duties might include testifying as an expert witness in court, interpreting polygraph evidence or determining the sanity of a defendant, among many other potential duties.
Because most professionals in this field testify in court, they have to not only understand the terminology of the court systems, but must also be able to present psychological evidence in a manner that a jury can understand.
Forensic Psychology in Idaho Colleges
Though psychologists have been testifying in court for decades, it wasn’t until 2001 that the American Psychological Association officially recognized forensic psychology as a specialized branch of psychology.
Because forensic psychology is a relatively new discipline, you might have difficulty in finding a school that offers it as a major, in Idaho or elsewhere. But some schools now provide a double major in psychology and law, which is similar to a major in forensic psychology.
Another option is to major in psychology and minor in law or criminal justice. This would allow you to take of cluster of classes in a specialized area of psychology. For example, a cluster in child psychology would allow you to professionally evaluate children in child custody cases or suspected cases of parental abuse.
To become a forensic psychologist, you’ll need a master’s or a doctorate. Depending upon which type of degree you have, there is a proportionate difference in the job opportunities and pay scale. Most professionals in this area are grouped in with other clinical psychologists, it’s difficult to get an accurate salary figure. According to Indeed.com, the average clinical psychologist in Idaho makes $80,000 per year.