Professionals who are excited about forensic psychology must have unique skills in reading people, researching the actions of criminals, and finding clues about how crimes occur. The justice system often calls Forensic Psychologists to act as expert witnesses or legal professionals. Here, they testify in cases or criminal trials involving criminal actions of individuals. Given the importance of the expertise in this field, forensic psychology degrees require a Ph.D., taking as many as seven years to acquire. Most minors include Clinical Psychology, Social Psychology, or Organizational Psychology. The top three most common job options for a Forensic Psychologist are Crime Scene Consultant, Researcher, and Criminal Profiler.
Crime Scene Consultant
Sometimes called crime scene investigators, many consultants work in the behavioral science unit or division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The job requires them to investigate crime scenes, collect and preserve evidence. Finally, they must present the information to the justice system. After first responders, Crime Scene Investigators are usually the first law enforcement agents on the scene. Salary is based upon experience and location, so average pay can range from $45,000 to $65,000.
When you hear the term “criminal researcher,” your mind may go to the fictional character Abby Sciuto, portrayed by Pauley Perrette on the TV series NCIS. A Criminal Researcher works primarily behind the scenes, in behavioral science laboratories. Their job consists of statistically analyzing and examining scientific evidence or data collected from crime scenes. They also develop facts or theories on criminal cases. Researchers may have to write grant proposals to obtain grant money for their work to be accomplished. Many researchers also publish their findings by submitting them to peer-reviewed journals or magazines. The average salary ranges from $60,000 to $75,000 per year, according to chron.com.
A Criminal Profiler presents information to solve a crime. They look for similarities or behavioral patterns of the suspect in calling. They may also review all evidence collected from the crime scene and converse with top priority criminals to get a better picture of the lives and mind of how they tick and the likelihood of an event to occur. A great example of a criminal profiler is portrayed by pretty much every character on the show “Criminal Minds” on CBS. Criminal profilers are commonly called into court to testify and present their findings. The role of a Criminal Profiler requires a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice or something related. Professionals must also obtain a graduate degree in forensic psychology. Training in criminology and criminal law would benefit the individual as well. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the annual median salary is about $77,030 (2017).
Overall, these three doctoral level professions are an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in the science behind why crimes occur. Professionals need to love examining criminal actions and analyzing evidence that can determine the facts of a crime. The rewarding aspects of the job include bringing closure and justice to the families of victims of violent crimes. Knowledge of law enforcement agencies and public safety is a must, due to working closely alongside these agencies.