Steps to Become A Criminal Psychologist

Criminal psychologists are professionals who perform their duties within the justice system. They study the behavior and thought process of criminals. Interest in this area of study has grown dramatically in recent times.

This article has all the required information about the profession.

What Does a Criminal Psychologist Do?

Criminal psychologists work full-time during business hours. They perform the following duties:

  • Study the behavior of criminals
  • Determine why they commit crimes
  • Create profiles for different law enforcement agencies
  • Diagnose offenders who may be criminally insane
  • Supervise jury selections
  • Give evidence in legal cases
  • Judge children in custody hearings
  • Evaluate evidence at crime scenes along with police officers
  • Discover patterns of serial murderers

Steps to Become a Criminal Psychologist

Verbal, Written and Communication skills are some of the key skills of these professionals. To become a criminal psychologist, you need to follow these steps.

  1. Bachelor’s Degree

There is no specific major requirement for people who want to pursue a career as a criminal psychologist. However, concentrating on subjects like criminal justice or psychology may be beneficial. Some students choose courses like psychoanalysis, crime detection, human behavior, criminology, and forensic science.

According to the Society of Police and Criminal Psychology, aspiring criminal psychologists can get a lot of benefit and experience from working in a forensic setting. Other than a forensic setting, they can also work at a mental hospital or court.

  1. Master’s Degree

Prospective criminal psychologists are required to have Master’s Degree, Doctor of Psychology or Doctor of Philosophy Degree. Master’s degree requires two years to complete, while any doctoral degree would require five years of study and one year of training. Some schools offer program in criminal psychology while others offer clinal psychology with a specialization in criminal or forensic psychology. Both of these programs are accepted during the licensing process as long as the school is certified.

Students who pursue a doctoral degree are expected to submit a dissertation at the end of the program.

  1. Work Experience

To obtain the state license, students need to have a minimum of one year of field experience. They can gain this experience from internships, clinical practicums or residencies. Some schools assist students to find institutes where they can get the required experience. The experience is earned under the supervision of an authorized criminal psychologist.

  1. Obtaining License

Criminal psychologist who work at any clinical or counseling setting should meet the demands of their state to obtain the license. Most of the states require these professionals to have a doctoral degree, complete an internship and have minimum of one year of experience. All applicants have to pass an exam to obtain the license.

Even though having a certificate is not mandatory but those who have it, stand out in their professional field. The certificate is provided by the American Board of Forensic Psychology.

  1. Continuing Education

Criminal psychologists are required to continue their education to get their license renewed and to stay updated with industry trends. Continuing education workshops are arranged by the American Board of Forensic Psychology which covers numerous topics.

How Much Does a Criminal Psychologist Earn in the US?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists earned an annual mean salary of $87,450 in 2019. Oregon was the highest paying state, in 2019, with $112,010, followed by California paying $111,750 and District of Columbia paying $106,900.

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