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How to Become A Forensic Psychologist?

Updated on May 16, 2012

What Does a Forensic Psychologist Do?

A Forensic Psychologist is an individual who has passed the state tests and received certification in the field of psychology and the law. Forensic psychologists have many roles in the system and are not always considered "forensic psychologists". They could be clinical or school psychologists, counselors or neurologists who lend a helping hand to provide an analysis, testamony, or recommendations in criminal or legal cases.

A forensic psychologist could offer advice on which parents should have the child in a divorce if it is a heated debate in the court. Another psychologist could recommend against freeing a prisoner because they feel he might strike again.


In becoming a forensic psychologist, there are a lot of degree's involved. Most schools don't have a bachelor's degree in forensic psychology so you should double major in psychology and criminology or criminal justice. However, you could also have a major in criminal justice with a focus in forensic psychology. Since there is no clear way for an undergraduate, there are many different ways of starting for a job as a forensic psychologist. Even so, the goal is to have a background in psychology, criminology, and forensics.

As job opportunities rise for those with higher educations, it is wise to get a master's degree, and then even onto a doctorates. Still, very few colleges offer master degrees in forensic psychology, so this might be more difficult than getting your undergraduates. The reason for this is because a doctorates degree is necessary to become a licensed forensic psychologist.

Once you have received a doctorates, you can then apply for certification by the American Board of Forensic Psychology. This proves to employers that you have passed the exams necessary for the field you have chosen.


All results were gathered by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Years of Experience

  • 0-1 years - $53,500
  • 2 + years - $57,000
  • 5-8 years - $66,000
  • 19 years - $74,988
  • 20 + years - $86,000

Place of Employment

It depends on the place as to how much money can be made. By working for the state or local government, one can make an average of $64,000. By working for private firms or self-imployment, a forensic psychologist can make up to $63,000. Big industries and companies normally pay an average of $61,000 while hospitals and substance abuse normally have $62,600 as an average. Non-profit organizations typically pay the least amount.


The average salary of a masters degree consists of $59,440. A doctorates degree gets a salary between $53,500 to $93,000. The national average pay of clinical psychologists is between $45,122 to 85,429.


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    • Sparrowlet profile image

      Katharine L Sparrow 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hmmm.. my daughter has considered forensic psychology as a career, so this was very interesting.