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What career paths can I take in forensic psychology? What is the career growth? Annual salary? Any advice?

Psychology has been one of my main passions when it comes to learning and reading and I hope major in it. However, I want to be able to know more about the life of a Forensic Psychologist and all that comes with it from someone who has first hand experience. #forensics #psychology #forensic-psychology #career

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Nicole’s Answer

Forensic psychology involves applying psychology to the field of criminal investigation and the law. Forensic psychologists are often involved in both criminal and civil matters such as civil lawsuits, custody disputes, and insurance claims.

I worked at Napa State Hospital in CA. I provided assessments about competence to stand trial, held groups for mentally disordered offenders and those who were found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. I worked in a locked facility doing psych assessments, seeing some patients individually, held groups, and provided expert testimony when subpoenaed for court.

It pays on average, about 70k a year. The work can be a bit darkening on your soul, so it is important to have a healthy work/life balance.

Nicole recommends the following next steps:

Do google searches re forensic professions
Look at schools that provide forensic psych and courses they entail
Thank you comment icon Thank you! One more question- Did you enjoy working at Napa State Hospital? Do you have your masters or PhD? Deisy
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Liane’s Answer

I would check out the website Onetonline.org it will answer all of those questions about a career and the industry.
Thank you comment icon Thank you-much appreciated Deisy
Thank you comment icon Hi Liane, while that website is an incredible tool, I don't think sending a student to another site is the most helpful response. Any additional information you can provide about forensic psychology would be insightful! Gurpreet Lally, Admin
Thank you comment icon If you'd like first hand knowledge of a forensic psychologist then reach out to one and ask if you can shadow them for a day or buy them coffee and ask questions. No one is going to be able to give you better knowledge than someone in the field. Most professionals are very eager to assist young interested students. Details about the industry and future is best found on a website with proven statistics, not someone's opinion. Liane Crane
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Constance’s Answer

Hi Deisy, you mentioned that you love psychology and that it is one of your main passions. I would love to ask you what made you want to consider forensic psychology as a career option, but since I cannot find that out, I will do my best to show you a path of what you might expect as a forensic psychologist. There are so many options in the field of psychology, so having this passion affords you many options to consider.
As in all fields of study, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees offer different opportunities in the same discipline.
When considering undergraduate degrees in forensic psychology, you can expect a careers as a victim’s advocate, court liaison, and law enforcement, just to name a few. You could also become certified through the National Organization for Victim Assistance as you pursue your degree. I would highly recommend you looking into this certification because it will afford you some real live experiences, as well and excellent networking resources. You should not expect high levels of pay with this certification, at least initially, in fact some opportunities may even be volunteer, but what you gain from these experiences will be well worth your effort and time.
As you further your education in the field of forensic psychology through a Master’s degree, you could be looking a careers as a jury consultant, licensed professional clinical counselor, juvenile counselor, or research assistant. This education level would allow you to work with large criminal law firms, and/or state or national agencies, like the FBI or Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Secret Service, Bureau of Statistics, IRS Criminal Investigation Division, just to name a few.
If you decide to continue your studies with a doctoral degree, you could expect to become a forensic psychologist, Professor or Instructor of Psychology, or continue research in the field of psychology. As a forensic Psychologist, your main focus would be psychological assessments with individuals involved in the legal system. Report writing, strong verbal commination and case presentation would be necessary skills as a Forensic Psychologist.
To answer the second part of your question, how much money can you earn? I believe that will vastly depend upon your level of education. With a bachelor’s degree you could be looking a volunteering all the way to $45K yearly. With a master’s degree your earning potential goes up with a range of $56K to $72K annually, and with a doctoral degree you could be earning in the range of $90K.
I hope this was enough information to help you decide if this is the right psychological path for you. Best of luck Deisy!
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Nicole’s Answer

Hello!!!

I found this article to be most helpful in explanation of undergraduate and graduate degrees in forensic psychology and also what jobs you can get with those degrees.

https://www.forensicscolleges.com/blog/resources/what-can-I-do-with-a-forensic-psychology-degree

The national average is around $77k. It does depend a lot on your location. Some states have a higher need then others and higher income to living ratio which can also impact income. The more the cost to live, the more they will pay to offset that. However, once you look through all the programs and you pick one you like the most, it's important to consider:

1. Where would you like to live, not love, and where is the most work needed for the degree you choose in this path?
2. What kind of accreditations does the school have and which accreditations should you expect to need in university to get you to your masters program (if you choose to go masters).

I will be honest, in any psychology degree a masters definately makes you more money and enables you more opportunities in your career for growth. The more specialized you get the more narrow your area of work so I also suggest looking at more general degrees that can cover a multitude of specialties in forensic psychology so you have more options for growth within your career and more job opportunities, unless you know you are only interested in one speciality.

Growth in forensic psychology as a demand in the nation is expected to grow around 14% or so by 2026 so it is an area of need right now.

Also, HIGHLY recommend looking at doing case studies and internships early in your college career and doing it little bit at a time as you progress with school. I waited until the end of my bachelor's to look for an internship and there was no opportunities available because it is a hot subject to intern and volunteer with. So look early, look often and dont get stuck like me having to take a year off of school so I can get an internship and look good to get into a masters program and job.

Nicole recommends the following next steps:

Look at what specialty in the field you wish to study, or which broader subject can cover multiple careers for easier growth/change.
Look for accreditations of schools you may need to back your degree to get into job/masters.
After you apply for schools and start, look into internships, and when you can apply.
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