How To Become a Forensic Psychologist
There are some practical steps you can take to start your forensic psychology career. It is commonly believed that a masters or doctoral degree is a must to get started; however, most begin on the path towards becoming a forensic psychologist, gaining relevant experience and continuing their education along with way. The following is an outline of steps to take:
The first step is to earn a bachelor’s degree. There are some bachelors programs with an emphasis in forensic psychology. However, it is sufficient to earn a bachelor’s degree in a related field as well. A degree in psychology, criminal justice, forensics will set a strong foundation for further education and development. Some schools offer psychology or criminal justice degrees with a concentration track in forensic psychology. When researching schools, be sure to ask about this option.
Determine the requirements and prerequisites necessary for licensing in the state you plan to work in. When you earn your degree, you should be sure that you will be eligible to apply for your license to practice forensic psychology.
Once a bachelor’s degree is earned, continue your education and complete a master’s degree – A master’s degree in forensic psychology will make you more competitive; however, we recommend that you do not stop there. Some states require higher level degrees such as a doctoral or PhD in Forensic Psychology, which is the ultimate goal.
Seek out jobs, internships, and roles that are related to criminal psychology in correctional facilities, juvenile justice programs, or assisting with criminal profiling.
Don’t limit your education. Continue working towards a PhD if possible – A doctoral degree fulfills all of the requirements needed to apply for a license to practice forensic psychology in virtually all states. Most students are already working in forensic psychology in some capacity at this point, but may not be a forensic psychologist proper until completion of a masters or PhD program.
Pass your state’s forensic psychology licensing exam. Congratulations, you are now among what is often cited as one of the most fascinating and rewarding careers in the criminal justice system.