Forensic psychology is the application of psychological science to the justice system. Forensic psychologists not only have to be specialists in a branch of psychology, but they also have to specialize in a branch of law or justice. Though Illinois is primarily known for being a leading manufacturing state, it’s economy has been rapidly shifting toward a heavy dependence upon high-value-added services like law and higher education; this shift, combined with the fact that Illinois is the fifth most populous state, provides numerous opportunities for finding schools and jobs in the field of forensic psychology.
Studying Forensic Psychology
Because forensic psychology is a relatively new field—having only been officially recognized in 2001 as a specialization of psychology—finding a school that carries forensic science as a major might prove difficult. There are several schools in Illinois that offer coursework in forensic psychology and some that offer dual degrees in psychology and law.
Another option for students is to major in psychology and minor in law or criminal justice, with a cluster of studies in a particular branch of psychology. If you plan to open your own private practice, you might consider taking courses in business.
Types of Forensic Psychologists
Many forensic psychologists work primarily for the court system, where they can serve as expert witnesses, interpret polygraph evidence, determine the sanity of a defendant, serve as a liaison between the police department and the court system, or counsel victims of crime. Much depends upon the psychologist’s specialty; for example, a pediatric forensic psychologist evaluates children in child custody cases or in cases of child abuse.
Some forensic psychologists work for correctional facilities, counseling criminals. Others work as teachers or researchers.
Forensic psychology is a booming industry in Illinois. The largest employers of forensic psychologists include courthouses, law enforcement agencies, mental health organizations, research facilities and schools.
According to SalaryBox.com, the minimum salary in Illinois is $45,670, the average is $97,600 and the maximum is $116,560.