How to Become a Criminal Psychologist

Criminal Psychologists are professionals who are specialized in the psychology of criminals.

These professionals are highly skilled in studying and observing criminal minds, thoughts and behavior.

They gather unbiased information regarding individuals to assist professionals involved in other inspective areas such as forensics and criminal investigators.

These professionals use a combination of psychiatry skills and their knowledge of the law in order to help judicial or law enforcement understand the mind of a convicted or alleged criminal.

Education Requirements to Become a Criminal Psychologist

Individuals who want to become a Criminal Psychologist will need to acquire a high level of education in order to pursue a career in this profession.

Individuals will need to graduate from high school, complete an undergraduate degree and finish a four year doctoral degree in order to become a Criminal Psychologist.

In addition, individuals will need to seek a certification and licensure in order to practice.

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Individuals beginning their undergraduate degree in order to become a Criminal Psychologist will need to focus their track on Psychology or a closely related field such as Sociology.

When applying for a graduate school, individuals will need to seek a track that will earn them a distinction as a Doctor of Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.).

Many graduate schools do not offer a specialized degree in Criminal Psychology, individuals will need to seek a program that does offer this specialized degree or enter a general program and seek a specialization in Criminal Psychology.

In addition, individuals can opt to seek a graduate degree in forensic psychology to enter this profession.

During their graduate degree, students who want to become a Criminal Psychologist will study a variety of areas in order to complete their degree and specialized track.

Common courses may include: adult psychopathology, mental health laws, forensic psychology, personality assessment and forensic psychology for children and families.

During this type of program, individuals will have the opportunity to gain hands on experience under the supervision of an experienced professional by completing an internship.

Internships may be completed in a variety of locations including, mental health centers, hospitals, prisons or state courts.

Aspiring Criminal Psychologists will also need to become certified in Forensic Psychology in order to showcase their background in the field.

The American Board of Professional Psychology is in charge of administering certification in 13 specializations, including Forensic Psychology.

Visit their website at ABPP to learn more information about the board and specific requirements for certification.

License requirements will depend on the state a Criminal Psychologists practices in..

In order to seek a license to become a Criminal Psychologist, individuals must have graduated from a doctoral program and have a minimum of one year of experience in the field.

Individuals must also complete an internship in order to seek a license.

Some states may require individuals to pass a comprehensive exam requiring essay and oral questions.

Aspiring professionals will need to contact individual states regarding specific requirements and testing centers.

Criminal Psychologist Job Description

Criminal Psychologists are responsible for gathering psychological data from observations they complete from a variety of subjects and clients.

They may also be aware of laws regarding criminal behavior and mental health initiatives in order to keep up to date with changes in legislation.

Criminal Psychologists often work independently and may be hired by a third party to assess a convicted or alleged criminal in order to gather impartial data about an individual.

After gathering this information, Criminal Psychologists will provide expert witness testimony, write psychological reports and confer with court officials.

They may also help a court determine whether an individuals is capable of standing trial and testify in court to give expert testimony and evidence.

Criminal Psychologist Salary and Career Path

In 2012, the median wage for Psychologists in various industries was approximately $69,280 per year.

Exact wages will depend on the industry an individual works.

For example, Psychologists working for clinical, counseling or schools earn a median annual income of approximately $67,750 while those working in the industrial-organizational industry earn approximately $83,580 per year.

The overall employment outlook for Psychologists is expected to grow by 12 percent through the year 2-2022.

This is considered an average growth when compared to other professions; the exact number of jobs created in this profession will depend on the specialization and the type of industry a professional works in.

Individuals who are interested in a career as a Criminal Psychologist will use their extensive background in Psychology and their specialization in Forensic Psychology to help other professionals in the judicial or law enforcement sectors understand specific alleged or convicted criminals.

Their work is important in assuring that individuals with possible mental health issues keep their rights during the judicial process.

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