A criminal psychologist, also known as a forensic psychologist, is a criminal justice professional who works as a science expert for a court, a law enforcement agency, or a private firm that works with law enforcement. These individuals are responsible for assessing a criminal’s mental state. Criminal psychologists examine criminal records and patient records in order to gather information about the individuals that they must interview. They also interview children who have witnessed or who may have witnessed a crime. Criminal psychologists interview criminals and suspects to assess their mental state and to determine if they are fit to stand trial. They also testify in court, use information about a crime to create a psychological profile of the suspect or the type of individual for whom law enforcement officers should look, and perform a variety of similar tasks. Some criminal psychologists may specialize in the assessment of a specific type of offender, and these psychologists may work for a specialized law enforcement unit in some cases. Some of the types of offenders criminal psychologists typically assess include children, gang members and other individuals in criminal organizations, murderers and similar violent offenders (such as serial killers), sex offenders, terrorists, and other individuals.
A criminal psychologist typically earns between $48,000 and $83,000 a year, but some criminal psychologists may make more or less than this amount depending on the area in which they work. In fact, in some areas a criminal psychologist may make as little as $35,000 or as much as $106,000 a year. However, it is important to note that a criminal psychologist’s total earnings depend not only on the area in which the psychologist works, but also on his or her education, experience, employer, and specialty. An individual, as a result, may be able to make significantly As a result, a criminal psychologist with specialized skills, additional education, additional experience, or who works for a large federal agency such as the FBI may make significantly more money than might a typical criminal psychologist.
Specific requirements to become a criminal psychologist vary from state to state. However, most states require a master’s degree in psychology, a Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree, or a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in a closely related field. Some federal agencies may require only a bachelor’s degree in criminal psychology, a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice with some psychology courses, or a bachelor’s degree in psychology, but these positions are extremely limited and hard to come by. In addition, you must complete a one to two year forensic psychology internship or fellowship, have one to two years of experience in clinical psychology or a closely related field, pass a state certification exam, pass a state licensure examination, and obtain a license to practice criminal psychology. In addition, you also may be required to obtain the American Psychological Association’s (APA’s) American Board of Forensic Psychology (ABFP) Certification, complete a series of courses related to specific areas of the criminal psychology field, or meet other requirements before you begin working in some states.