What Job are Available With a Degree in Forensic Psychology?

What Does Forensic Psychology Involve?

Forensic psychology is a sub discipline that applies psychological insight to legal matters. This specialized area of psychology focuses on criminal and civil matters to include law enforcement, jury selection, probation and parole, victim advocacy, family law, mental status competency, risk assessments, civil commitments, juvenile delinquency, insurance claims, and many other areas of the justice system.

Although forensic psychology is a sub discipline, it is distinguishable from the other areas of psychology. It has developed its own professional organizations, educational training programs, and distinct research journals. However, despite its clear distinction from the other fields that are under the psychology umbrella, forensic psychology is also an interdisciplinary field. psychologists in this field rely on other disciplines such as law, sociology, political science, medicine and other disciplines to be effective.

Forensic psychologists are generally licensed practitioners who use their specialized psychological knowledge to answer questions and address issues related to the legal system.

Related: How to Become a Forensic Psychologist

What are the Careers in Forensic Psychology?

Legal Consultant

Court systems and private lawyers hire forensic psychologists for a wide variety of legal activities. Legal Consultants are sometimes asked to assist with jury selection in an attempt to assemble a jury that will have an open mind and view each case fairly. Professionals assisting with jury selection may conduct mock trials, conduct telephone surveys, or run focus groups as a part of the legal team.

Prosecutors and defense lawyers alike may call on a Legal Consultant to testify as an Expert Witness during a trial. Forensic psychologists in this capacity often testify regarding the mental status of a defendant and whether he/she is competent to stand trial. The Legal Consultant might also testify in custody cases to provide a professional opinion regarding parenting ability and the welfare of the children involved.

In general, forensic psychologists who work in this role explain the psychological dynamics of a criminal or civil case to judges, lawyers, and others involved in the case.

Although a specific wage for a Legal Consultant was not noted, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Forensic Science Technicians who also serve as Expert Witnesses, earn an average mean wage of $56,750 annually, as of May 2016.

Juvenile Correctional Treatment Specialist

Forensic psychologists who enjoy working with children and adolescents may choose to pursue a career as a Juvenile Correctional Therapist or Treatment Specialist. Professionals in this area focus on evaluating young offenders, diagnosing disorders, and developing treatment plans to address behavior and mental health issues. They may work directly with youth who are on probation or parole or they may work within correctional institutions.

Juvenile Treatment Specialists also provide services to the families of young offenders. These services typically include individual and group counseling, substance abuse treatment, family counseling, social skills training, anger management, conflict resolution, parenting skills, and other types of life skills training. These services are offered in the home, in community settings, at school, within residential homes, or inside correctional institutions

In May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Correctional Treatment Specialists earned an average mean wage of $50,160 annually.

Law Enforcement Liaison

Forensic psychologists are often hired by police departments to assist with various tasks. They often work with other law enforcement agents to help develop suicide prevention protocols and other training programs. Professionals in this field might also provide post trauma counseling for victims as well as for family members of police officers.

Stress management is another area in which police departments utilize the skills of Law Enforcement Liaisons. Forensic psychologists who select this career may be asked to teach stress reduction techniques to officers and other employees of local, state, and federal police departments.

As of May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the related field of Legal Support Workers earns an average mean wage of $66,170 annually.

Victim Advocate

Many forensic psychologists pursue careers as Victim Advocates. In this role, psychologists provide individuals who have experienced victimization with counseling, support, and legal advocacy.

Victim Advocates help crime survivors and their families obtain safe shelter following a crisis. They also offer education and prevention strategies for survivors as well as ongoing support before, during, and immediately following court procedures. Victim Advocates also make referrals for follow-up care for survivors and their families when needed.

As of May 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the related field of mental health counselor earns an average mean wage of $42,150 annually.

Trial Consultant

Trial consultants work as part of a legal team for either the prosecution or defense in a trial. The purpose of having a trial consultant on the team is to utilize their knowledge and experience in a given field to help further the cause of the case or client.

Generally, trial consultants have a background in psychology, though this is not a given as attorneys on both sides often employ experts from many fields to help improve their chances of winning at trial. For example, a trial consultant with a background in psychology might assist a defense attorney in developing questions for potential jurors in order to identify jurors that might or might not be sympathetic to the defendant.

What is the Outlook for Forensic Psychology Careers

The sub discipline of forensic psychology is a field that is growing rapidly. The rapid growth of this discipline can be attributed to the re-specialization of psychologists who are leaving managed care. Growth can also be attributed to new students entering forensic psychology programs who are motivated by the fictional TV representations of the field.

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