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Forensic Psychology Salary Considerations

Updated on July 18, 2011

The growing field of forensic psychology is interesting, exciting and also lucrative. As the crime rate goes up so does the need for qualified professionals who can evaluate criminal behavior and testify in court situations. Forensic psychology salary ranges do vary from state to state as well as with the level of experience and education one has acquired. Obviously forensic psychology salary with PhD can command the highest numbers.

Up Front and Personal With Serial Killers

Perhaps one of the most daunting but also exciting areas of forensic psychology is the work they do with serial killers. It is quite common to see a forensic psychologist being interviewed on any number of true crime TV shows as to the "whys and wherefores" of a particular crime or criminal. Many have written books of their own about famous cases or particularly interesting cases they have worked with. Most of the time a forensic psychologist is working with the ordinary person who has been accused of a crime that is quite serious, the psychology of the human mind makes for fascinating reading and a job that is anything but boring.

Educational Requirements

In general, forensic psychology salary considerations are based upon education levels with a doctorate being at the top of the pay scale. An undergraduate may major in such things as criminal justice, psychology, sociology or anthropology with an eye toward a psychology major in graduate school. There are several master's degrees that one may use as a forensic specialist with the most common being the masters degree in psychology itself. It is not unusual for social workers to have forensic experience or to branch off into the psychology field at some point since all these fields are interrelated to a significant degree. Attaining the highest level of doctorate will take an extra 2-3 years or more if you are going to school part time but your forensic psychology salary will rise significantly along with that degree. You will also be able to write books, lecture and consult well into old age as your level of experience increases.

Looking at Both Sides

Just as this field is exciting and fluid, it can also have elements that are difficult. Working with the minds of sociopaths and psychopaths is not for the faint hearted. Consider your personality, your family commitments, your moral codes and beliefs, and the toll such work may take upon your peace of mind. If you are one of the lucky ones, able to leave your work at the office, forensic psychology may be the career for you. Some of the top celebrity psychologists love the work they do and have become wealthy and famous doing it. Perhaps they have discovered the secret of not taking it all to heart.

One thing is for sure, there will seldom be a dull moment in this line of work. Many forensic psychologists travel extensively as they are on call for law enforcement agencies globally for consultations. All high profile trials feature at least two such professionals in testimony, one for the defense and one for the prosecution. In fact, most criminal trials will require both. Your forensic psychology salary may well include handsome fees for such testimony, as well as additional fees for prison visitations, evaluations and even profiling. Crime is not going to go away any time soon, so consider this amazing career and wide open field of expertise.


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