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I want to be a criminal psychologist but I also want to work on the field, what should i do?

I also want to work on the field investigating crime scenes but criminal psychology is said to be an indoor job #psychology #careerhelp

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Michael’s Answer

I am a clinical psychologist who works full time for the Police Department of one of the larger Cities in the United States.

Let me first gently correct you; the term you want is "forensic" -- a forensic psychologist works with legal and criminal matters. At least in my country, you don't want to be a criminal of any sort, a criminal psychologist would be a psychologist who has committed a crime.

Second let's clarify roles. The long running television show "Crime Scene Investigation" is not accurate, and does not reflect reality. A crime scene investigator, also called a forensic examiner, plays much more of a technician role--it is very valuable work but it's much more the role of an assistant than portrayed on television. The star of the process is the detective, the Police officer in charge of the case. it is Hollywood fantasy that forensic examiner would arrest criminals, they do not ever do that.

CSI never talks to living people, nor do they examine bodies of victims. they search the crime scene for evidence such as fingerprints and DNA. They provide the results to the detectives who then act on the information.

The CSI are not high level employees, as I said, they are technicians, meticulous and highly trained to collect things of interest at a crime scene--shell casings, stray bullets, blood samples, etc. They bring these things back to their bosses, who are laboratory scientists, who are entirely "indoor" people and of many different specialties Ph.D. in chemistry or organic chemistry among them-- the process of extracting and analyzing DNA is highly technical.

My Police Department has outsourced all this work to a private company--they have no Police powers at all, they merely provide impartial "blind"evidence to the detectives.

The dead bodies are examined by medical specialists called pathologists, who are medical doctors skilled in a process called autopsy, to determine cause of death, and collect evidence like bullets for further examination.

So what would my role in the process be? Psychologists talk to living people. They determine mental fitness, diagnose mental disorders, to provide input to the legal system, someone testify in court regarding issues of fact regarding legal cases; I have done all these things. But first the detective has to catch the suspect.

So above, I have outlined at least five different professions and roles, some of which take many years of study. In reality, there are many more people involved, as all of the top people have assistants, the bodies are brought to the pathologists by assistants, the evidence is brought to the scientists by assistants, even I have assistants called psychometrists, who actually administer many of the psychological tests--our time is too valuable to spend on mundane tasks, and believe me, investigating a crime scene in very tedious and time consuming, as is proctoring psychological tests. They are assistants, not doctors.

If you want to seriously pick a career, you need to stop looking to fantasy on TV and instead look at the real roles played by people employed in forensic settings. CSI is such a fantasy it is unwatchable by people who really work in the field... except as a comedy.







Michael recommends the following next steps:

https://www.houstonforensicscience.org/
https://www.ncu.edu/blog/science-forensic-psychology#gref
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Steward "Tony"’s Answer

First become a Criminal Psychologist! That is your real goal and the most important. Once you have reached it, enter an industry that uses this skill and develop a couple of years experience (maintaining studies in your free time of course). At that point, you can then look for appropriate jobs which do offer both inside and outside activities, especially in many police/military investigative arenas. Remember that being in the field at this point in the game is not as important as the actual goal.
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Steward "Tony"’s Answer

First become a Criminal Psychologist! That is your real goal and the most important. Once you have reached it, enter an industry that uses this skill and develop a couple of years experience (maintaining studies in your free time of course). At that point, you can then look for appropriate jobs which do offer both inside and outside activities, especially in many police/military investigative arenas. Remember that being in the field at this point in the game is not as important as the actual goal.
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Steward "Tony"’s Answer

First become a Criminal Psychologist! That is your real goal and the most important. Once you have reached it, enter an industry that uses this skill and develop a couple of years experience (maintaining studies in your free time of course). At that point, you can then look for appropriate jobs which do offer both inside and outside activities, especially in many police/military investigative arenas. Remember that being in the field at this point in the game is not as important as the actual goal.
Thank you comment icon thank you sir for your insights Levin
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