Forensic & Criminal Psychology, two branches of psychology
Forensic psychology and criminal psychology are two branches of psychology that both work with the legal system. The two terms are often used interchangeably; there is a great deal of overlap in the education and training necessary, as well as the work that both forensic psychologists and criminal psychologists do.Often, both forensic and criminal psychologists work as consultants and provide a variety of services to the legal system, including prisons, courts and police. However, differences in the two jobs become more obvious in larger urban areas, where criminal and forensic psychologists are both needed to provide separate expertise in their focus areas.
Criminal psychologists focus on the evaluation of crime, criminals, and criminal behavior, while forensic psychologists apply psychological knowledge and theory to the criminal justice and legal system. The federal government is the largest employer of criminal psychologists, where they often work for high level governmental agencies such as the FBI. Within these agencies, criminal psychologists focus on the motivations and reactions of criminals and why certain people commit crimes. Criminal psychologists evaluate criminals and criminal behavior, often working with evidence and theory to provide more information to law enforcement to help understand crime and find criminals.
Criminal psychologists can be found studying case files to identify patterns and provide information about likely demographics of a criminal or criminals. The information they can determine from case files and crime scenes often includes sex, age, personality and personal background of a criminal. This is of great help to law enforcement agents, who have caught serious criminals with the help of criminal psychologists.
Criminal psychology is a more academic and research-based position than forensic psychology and criminal psychologists are often found doing research at universities and poring over old case files to research and create theory.
Forensic psychologists also use psychological theory and experience, but apply this knowledge to the criminal justice system.Forensic psychologists are less likely to be found at crime scenes, and more likely to be found in courts and prisons.Forensic psychologists work at the other end of the legal process, when criminals are already identified within the court system.Forensic psychologists are often found within courts working as expert witnesses and evaluating a criminal’s mental capacity and competence to stand trial.
Forensic psychologists also conduct psychological evaluations of both defendants in court and criminals nearing release from prison. Forensic psychologists can be exposed to crime scenes to aid police in gathering evidence, or work within the court systems as case managers. They may provide clinical counseling to inmates, or work as victim advocates within the court system. The job of a forensic psychologist is wide and varied, but never boring.
Both criminal and forensic psychologists are in great demand, with expected continued employment growth for both psychologist sub-types. If you are thinking of becoming a forensic or criminal psychologist, however, you must be ready for extensive schooling in psychology and law. Although some forensic psychologists can have a master’s level degree, the majority of criminal and forensic psychologists have PhD s or other doctoral degrees. If you are planning a career in either sub-field, you should be ready to receive both an undergraduate and a doctoral-level graduate degree to be competitive within the field.
A career in psychology provides more than just the satisfaction of helping people and society. Many psychologists also earn an excellent salary while doing so. However, there is a tremendous amount of variation in yearly salary earnings between different types of psychologists. Even within a part Do you know what psychology career is right for you? Psychology Career HQ describes the steps in how to become a psychologist in a variety of fields. We break down the required steps from high school through graduate school, internships and licensure information all the way to career