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If you love the idea of working for the criminal justice system or helping those convicted of crimes rehabilitate and reintegrate into society, then a Master’s degree in forensic psychology may be the right path for you. This role allows you to use your specific skill set to aid investigators, present findings in court and even help rehabilitate those who have served time for their crimes.
Some potential job options for those with a degree in forensic psychology are showing strong growth; if you are interested in working with individuals struggling with substance abuse or heling families find the right solution for child custody, then strong growth in these fields will help you find a position you’ll love.
If you are considering studying for a degree in forensic psychology, one of these six positions might be perfect for you:
#1 Forensic Psychologist
Students who go into graduate school with a degree in forensic psychology in mind so because they dream of using their Master’s degree to work as a forensic psychologist. If you work in this field, you could work with law enforcement at the state, local or federal level and assist in solving crimes, interpreting evidence or even predicting behaviors.
In some cases, you could do research, working with those who have been convicted of crimes to find out why they offended and discovering ways to prevent criminal behavior in the future. A forensic psychologist may also help work with victims to prepare for court, create impact statements or cope in the aftermath of a crime.
Some forensic psychologists work in the criminal justice or prison setting, counseling those convicted of crimes and helping them make the transition from freedom to jail and then back again when they are released. During this time, you may also be called on to evaluate prisoners and treat any underlying mental health problems.
In 2016, forensic psychologists had a median salary of $75,230, according to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
#2 Expert Witness
As an expert witness, you would use your Master’s in Forensic Psychology to evaluate those accused of crimes and explain that individuals mental state to the court or jury. You’ll need to be able to evaluate their current mental state, reveal your findings and let the court know if you feel the defendant is competent to stand trial for the crime they are accused of. You could work for a law firm, run your own business or be retained by the prosecution during a trial.
Common duties of an expert witness are:
- Evaluating the mental health of a defendant
- Administering a variety of tests to determine if the defendant is capable of standing trial
- Creating reports that detail your findings
- Presenting your opinion in court in a way that the judge and jury has a clear understanding of your findings.
You could work in local, state or Federal courtrooms and work with defendants of all ages or specialize in juveniles or other specific populations. You could also develop expertise in specific types of crimes or offenses.
According to research firm SEAK, expert witnesses are most likely to work for a variety of clients and charge by the hour. The median hourly wage was $300 for all experts, with those with more experience making more than their less established counterparts.
#3 Child Custody Worker
You may be able to use your Master’s in Forensic Psychology to work to create better lives for children. Forensic psychologists are often called to evaluate children and parents during custody battles. This role combines the duties of a typical forensic psychologist with a family counselor and includes a variety of responsibilities:
- Interviewing and evaluating kids and parents
- Evaluating one or both parents to determine which parent is better suited to have custody
- Creating reports that could be used in court by attorneys for either side
- Presenting findings to the court in a clear way, so that everyone involved understands what you have discovered.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, this is a rapidly growing field; family counselors are seeing 19% growth and have a median salary of $44,170 per year. If you work more as a consultant or expert witness, you could earn a median hourly wage of $300 per hour working with child custody cases.
#4 Correctional Official or Probation Officer
Prison isn’t just about punishment, one of the goals of incarceration is rehabilitation, and you can use your Master’s in Forensic Psychology degree to help those who have been convicted of crimes improve their lives while they are in prison. Therapy in groups or individually can help both young offenders and adults; corrections managers and probation officers have similar responsibilities and often hold degrees in forensic psychology.
Some of the most common duties you could have would include:
- Leading group or individual therapy sessions for those in the prison setting
- Conduct assessments and evaluations to discover and treat underlying mental health issues
- Prepare offenders for release into society and ensure they have the coping skills they need to be successful
- Work with prisoners after release to help them successfully handle stress and reintegrate into society
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that this field a slower than average growth in this field, predicting just a 4% increase in the next decade. The median salary in this field is $50,160.
#5 Rehabilitation Counselor
Your Master’s in Forensic Psychology will allow you to access jobs as a rehabilitation counselor or specialist. You will have the right mix of training and background to help those who are struggling with substance abuse and coping with criminal penalties because of their addiction.
As a rehabilitation counselor, you could find work in an inpatient setting, in a clinic or even in a prison or jail setting. Knowing about the criminal justice system and how behaviors can impact a person’s ability to recover can help you serve the needs of a diverse group of clients and offenders.
The median pay for rehabilitation counselors as of August 2017 is $41,070 and this field is expected to continue to see much faster than average growth, with a rate of 22%.
#6 Jury Consultant
As part of the trial process, a lawyer or law firm could use a forensic psychologist to assist in jury selection; in this role, you would use the skills you learned to help select a winning jury. You could work for a specific law firm or as a consultant and use your knowledge of behavioral patterns and trends to choose the right jury to empanel for a case.
The salary in this field ranges widely and can be anywhere from $60,000 to $120,000; this field is seeing aggressive growth in 2017.
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- Forensic Psychologist. (2017, August 22). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/Life-Physical-and-Social-Science/Psychologists.htm#tab-1
- Expert Witness. (2017, August 22) Retrieved from https://www.seak.com/expert-witness-fee-study/
- Child Custody Specialist (2017, August 22). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/purchasing-managers.htm#tab-2
- Corrections or Probation Specialist. (2017, August 22) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/probation-officers-and-correctional-treatment-specialists.htm
- Rehabilitation Counselor (2017, August 22) Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm
- Jury Consultant. (2017, August 22). Retrieved from https://www.lawcrossing.com/article/432/Jury-Consultants-Continue-to-be-in-Hot-Demand/