Often used in legal circumstances, forensic psychology helps the court and its lawyers determine the credibility of witnesses, as well as the psychological profile of individuals suspected of committing crimes or having a connection with a crime. As a profession, psychologists represent an area of the economy with “faster than average” job growth of 14 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Specializing as a forensic psychologist may increase the likelihood of employment even more due to the relative newness of the profession and the rarity of forensic psychologists within the overall mental health community.
Forensics and the Intersection of the Law & Mental Health
Modern television and feature film portrayals of American courtrooms frequently include testimony from forensic psychologists, but the profession isn’t as ubiquitous as it might seem. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), legal precedent for court testimony from psychologists wasn’t settled until 1962. Further, the profession wouldn’t see official APA approval until 2001. Since that time, lawyers and the court system have found an increasingly large number of ways to utilize forensic psycholgists in legal settings. The demand for forensic psychologists has exceeded the supply in some jurisdictions.
Using Forensic Psychology to Expand Career Opportunities
Just as one might diversify investments to secure a healthy retirement income, diversifying one’s professional expertise can also lead to high earnings in a particular job. A practicing psychologist may return to school to study the topic, or a new student of psychology may specialize in the forensic arm of the profession and work solely in that area of the industry. In addition to providing excellent career opportunities for clinical psychologists, working as a forensic psychologist may also offer career boosts for experimental psychologists. These professionals may conduct focus groups, identify instances of unfair trial publicity, help lawyers pick juries, and assist with a host of other interesting tasks. Forensic psychologists may also work in research at well-known organizations like the Federal Judicial Center and the National Center for State Courts.
Related link: 20 Best Online Schools for Forensic Psychology
Setting Up Private Practice for Maximum Earnings
Psychologists often enjoy excellent incomes when they work in private practice, and the same applies to forensic psychologists who provide their services to lawyers and dedicate many hours to work in advance of a trail. While rewarding employment also exists for forensic psychologists in academia, institutional settings, and in research, forensic psychologists who choose to work in private practice can make upwards of $200,000 to $400,000 a year, according to further information shared by the APA. While it takes some time to build a respected practice and cultivate the necessary professional relationships with working lawyers, the eventual pay represents a level of income at the upper echelons of the mental health industry.
Rewarding Work and High Pay in a Growing Industry
Most clinical psychologists and individuals working as forensic psychologists must obtain a doctoral degree before setting up a private practice or working for local, state, or national government departments. Earning a Ph.D. requires several extra years of study beyond what a bachelor’s degree might require, but the earnings potential for work as a forensic psychologist can make those extra years spent in school worth it as far as lifetime earnings are concerned. Working in forensic psychology can reward dedicated professionals with excellent pay, diverse working environments, and the opportunity to enjoy higher-than-average job growth.