Forensic Psychology Careers in Law Enforcement
One of the most exciting places to work as a forensic psychologist is going to be in law enforcement. You can work with local or state police departments, county offices, and even with federal law enforcement agencies. As a criminal profiler, you will be able to delve into various types of criminal cases and use your skills as a forensic psychologist to come up with a psychological profile of the criminal.
With your knowledge of the human psyche, it will be possible to use the profile to narrow down a suspect pool and help law enforcement find and catch the suspect. Perhaps the most famous of the profilers work for the FBI and help to catch serial killers. However, you don’t have to work for the FBI to catch serial killers and other violent offenders. Many smaller law enforcement agencies around the country are making use of profilers to help with cases.
Forensic Psychology Careers in a Clinical Setting
You don’t have to hunt criminals with law enforcement if you are a forensic psychologist. Plenty of other great career options are available, including working in a clinical setting. You will be able to provide help and counseling to criminals with psychological problems. You will need to have your doctorate, or at least a master’s degree in clinical psychology, but you will need to have a focus on criminal behavior as well. This type of clinical work will often occur in a prison setting, but that’s not the only place where you might give treatment. In addition, you may work in a mental health center or a psychiatric hospital that houses criminals.
Forensic Psychology Careers in Research and Teaching
You might want to have a job that requires research, where you track the trends of crimes. By tracking crimes, you will be able to notice those trends and utilize this knowledge to help law enforcement. Out of all forensic psychology careers that you can get into, research is an area that places a great deal of focus on developing the field.
Teaching is another option, and the best teachers are often going to be the ones that have some real world experience on which they can rely. Those who want to work for a school and teach other forensic psychologists will usually need to have a doctorate. Specialists can also provide clinics and seminars to help teach detectives and agents in law enforcement.
As you can see, you will have plenty of different choices when it comes to having a career after getting your degree in forensic psychology. It’s a great field with a lot of potential.
Forensic Social Work
Forensic social work can be defined as the application of social work as it directly relates to issues involving the legal and law systems both criminally and civilly. A forensic social worker generally demonstrates competency in specialized skills in guiding clients through the ever-evolving complex legal system.
Forensic social workers usually have the capacity to work in numerous areas of the legal system. They are often involved directly with victim assistance programs, forensic mental health hospitals, law enforcement and correctional facilities (prisons and jails) along with the juvenile justice system. This includes in a residential or probation setting.
The Need for Forensic Social Workers
The need for social workers in the field of forensics has been on the increase over the last couple of decades. This is due to the extensive demands from the criminal justice system. The social workers perform their duties on numerous levels including working directly with families, individuals and groups within community and institutional systems. Forensic social workers have brought about a positive impact on the system through empowerment, advocacy, and through the benefit of therapeutic interventions for victims and offenders in a variety of settings.
To be successful as a forensic social worker, the individual must obtain a firm understanding of the criminal, juvenile and civil justice systems. In addition, they must achieve deep knowledge of how culture, religion and social economic situations involving their clients might directly impact necessary access to pertinent legal services.
The National Organization of Forensic Social Work (NOFSW) defines the practice of social work more broadly. Social workers in the field of forensics are typically involved in child custody issues that often involve neglect, divorce, separation, and the termination of a parent’s rights. They also directly handle the implications and outcome of spousal and child abuse. They work closely with adult and juvenile justice services and corrections, along with effective treatment mandated by the court system.
The social worker provides training, education and consultation to lawmakers, paralegals, attorneys, law enforcement personnel, juvenile justice and criminal justice in the correctional systems within their state. They might also be involved in the diagnosis, treatment and recommendations concerning children’s interest, mental status, incapacities, and the inability or ability to testify.
A forensic social worker is often called upon to serve as an expert witness in a case. In addition, they help screen, evaluate and treat criminal justice personnel including law enforcement. They also serve other functions including program and policy development along with arbitration and mediation. They often serve as an advocate for a client.
It is imperative that forensic social workers become familiar with the ins and outs of adversarial legal processes. They must understand exactly how the entire process works as it relates directly with their responsibilities as a social worker. They must also maintain a strong familiarity with all functions of criminal and civil court cases.
As a Consultant
Forensic social workers often take on jobs as a direct consultant in numerous aspects of the state’s legal system. They are often called upon to share their experience and professional expertise with lawyers, judges, lawmakers and law enforcement personnel. Typically, their work as a consultant is to create a firmer understanding of how social work relates directly to a particular legal situation.
It is often up to the forensic social worker to assess and evaluate the mental capacities of individuals participating in a trial before they are allowed to take the stand. This could include witnesses, defendants, law enforcement personnel, and literally anyone that could be directly involved with a particular court case at trial.
As an Expert Witness
More often than not, forensic social workers can be called to court to serve in the capacity of an expert witness during the trial. Their testimony is usually required to provide assessments and evaluations of domestic or mental situations as they pertain directly to the court case.
Usually, the professional responsibility called upon by the forensic social worker is to ensure they respect the limitations or boundaries of their profession. The limitations are often challenging when the individual becomes heavily involved in trial work or casework.
Social work at a forensic level is considered a prominent profession within the community of criminal justice. A successful social worker performs their duties on the fundamental principles and standards of restorative justice. This includes principles of accountability, competency development and community safety.
Having the duties of a treatment provider, a forensic social worker follows basic ethics and values as it relates to the criminal and civil justice system. They are typically professional exposed to social issues in the community in which they have a direct impact on the positive outcome of individuals moving through the criminal or civil courts.
Forensic Psychology Salaries
When you are searching for a new career, one of the things that is likely going to factor into your decision is whether it pays well enough to warrant the schooling. Salaries for forensic psychology careers vary based upon factors such as education level and job responsibilities.
The answer of whether the job pays enough is going to vary by your personal needs and expectations, but you might not want to let the salary alone affect your decision to become a forensic psychologist. You also have to consider the satisfaction that you will get from the work that you are doing. Knowing that you are helping others is one of the primary reasons that people choose this profession.
What Does a Forensic Psychologist Make?
For those who are getting into the field, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports that the average forensic psychology salary was $75,230 in May of 2016. Keep in mind that this is just the average forensic psychology careers salary. Some will make less, especially when they are just getting into the field. Others, once they have more time in the job and have a better education, they will be able to exceed $120,000 per year. While the forensic psychologist salary might be less than what you would find with a doctor or lawyer, it’s still quite good compared with salaries for other types of jobs.
Does the Forensic Psychologist Pay Equal the Responsibility?
When you become a forensic psychologist, you will find that you have many responsibilities, and that your work can take you some highs and lows emotionally and mentally. You have to prepare for these eventualities. If you are working on a case to help catch a killer or you have to provide a psychological evaluation of a criminal that has done some horrible things, it can take a toll on you. Some people find that they do not like this aspect of the job, and that no amount of money would be enough.…[t]he more education and training you receive, the higher the salary will generally be”
Of course, for someone who is truly interested in psychology and the criminal mind, the pay is just icing on the cake of being able to sift through the mind of a criminal. The more you are able to learn about these criminals, the more you will be able to help with other investigations. Forensic psychology careers are there to help people and that is likely why you entered the field. That’s what you are doing no matter what your forensic psychologist salary might be.
Beyond Forensic Psychology Pay
As mentioned above, it’s not always about the money. The forensic psychologist salaries are still quite good compared to that of many other fields, but you have the added bonus of knowing that you are helping to make headway with criminal investigations. You are working on profiling to help find killers and other criminals. You are working to keep those who belong in prison behind bars when their parole hearings come up. You are providing expert testimony to put bad people away. Your work allows you understand criminals better so that all of law enforcement and psychology will be able to benefit. For most forensic psychologists, the salary isn’t the most important factor when deciding to enter the career field.
Many Things Factor into Forensic Psychology Salaries
Trying to determine what your forensics psychology salary is going to be after you are a graduate and receive your doctorate is going to be almost impossible. You can use the averages mentioned earlier to give you an idea of where it might be, but you have to keep in mind that salaries are going to change from year to year, and other factors can affect how much you are going to make. One of the things that can affect the salary of a forensic psychologist is the amount of education that one has. The more education and training you receive, the higher the salary will generally be.
Something else that’s going to play a role is the amount of experience that you have. You would not expect the forensic psychology salary of a new graduate to be commensurate with that of someone who has spent more than a decade in the field. Those with a decade or more of experience will often be making in the range of $70,000 per year on average.
Other factors include location as well as the type of work that you are doing. Some smaller locales aren’t likely to be able to pay as well as others are. Working in a large city, for example, is usually going to provide you with a better salary.
The Best Way to a Great Forensic Psychology Salary Starts with Education
If you want to make sure that you have a good salary when you are a forensic psychologist, you have to start with a great education. You can find some great programs online and offline that will help to prepare you for this challenging field. Find a great school and enroll today.
Forensic Psychology Job Outlook
Choosing a job from the many forensic psychology careers available is something that appeals to many individuals. Combining an affinity for psychology and the criminal justice system makes this job field one that is sure to have long term growth. Individuals choosing to specialize in forensic psychology can find …the work done by forensic psychologists has proven to be vital to our judicial system, which is why occupational growth in this specialty is anticipated”jobs within the criminal justice system, therapy facilities and academic institutions. Because of the education required, working environment, clientele and academic uses, a forensic psychologist has an extremely positive job outlook. In fact, the BLS expects the job availability for psychologists to increase 19 percent between 2014 and 2024. Of course, this depends upon an individual’s specialty. For example, school psychologists can expect this increase to be around 20 percent, while forensic psychologists could experience an increase of at least 10 percent.
The projected increase in demand for trained psychologists is an indication of how important this profession is to virtually every facet of our society. Specifically, the work done by forensic psychologists has proven to be vital to our judicial system, which is why occupational growth in this specialty is anticipated. Not only have these professionals had a positive impact in the courtroom, but their work has also been a great influence in police departments.
Forensic Psychology Careers Working Environment
Forensic psychologists can work in correctional facilities, law offices, police offices, colleges and in private practices. This large number of different working environments helps contribute to the forensic psychologist job outlook. Individuals in this specialty can change and move around throughout the general field of forensic psychology, if the economic need arises. An individual who starts off doing academic research can move into private practice or criminal assessments in the event that the community is in need of services changes. The variety in this field is extremely helpful for individuals who want to ensure they have job prospects later on down the road.
Because the general clientele of a forensic psychologist is either a criminal or a law enforcement official, there is no doubt that there is tremendous job security in the forensic psychology careers. Even when our economy is strong, we are still going to have those who commit crimes, and, therefore, need to help treat those criminals and care for their psychological needs. In other words, this clientele will not evaporate over time. There will always be a need for forensic psychologists.
Researching the psychology behind crimes and the criminals who commit those crimes is another forensic psychology careers specialty area. Academic research is always a field in which individuals can participate and teach others about the forensic psychology field. Studying past and present criminals and how their minds operate helps to understand criminal prevention and treatment programs. The research of psychologists in this field has resulted in treatment options for criminals who were previously thought to have been untreatable.