The first thing that most likely comes to your mind when you hear “Forensics” would be those people who wear those white, plastic, hooded onesies and gather evidence at crime scenes.
However, Forensic psychologists have way better dress sense and they don’t spend all their time picking up toenails and pieces of blood-stained fabric with latex gloves and tweezers.
Basically, forensic psychologists use their in-depth specialized knowledge of psychological theory to evaluate, treat and support offenders and prisoners. They are also focused on using their expertise to help the victims and individuals who hold jobs within judicial institutions.
It doesn’t stop there, they are also known to help people who are in need of psychological therapy, forensic psychologists play a vital role when it comes to the conviction and sentencing of criminals by defining psychological profiles, presenting evidence when and where necessary, as well as offering their expert advice to parole boards.
Their typical workspaces are prisons, probation services, young offender institutions, hospitals, and police stations, forensic psychologists measure individual service users’ needs and evaluate any associated risks that they might pose to themselves and other people.
Using these assessments, forensic psychologists then go ahead to create personally tailored therapy and rehabilitation plans for those individuals, sometimes these bespoke therapies might involve anger management classes and group counseling sessions.
Forensic psychologists are also charged with the responsibility of maintaining records, tracking the progress of service users, while simultaneously writing reports.
In more senior levels, forensic psychologists could also be given the responsibility of managing some trainee forensic psychologists, conducting various researches, and developing innovative strategies to improve therapy and rehabilitation services.
Salary & benefits
The average annual salary for trainee forensic psychologists working in prisons or probation services is usually somewhere between £17,000 and £20,000. But those who would be working for the NHS, would have their earnings ranging from £25,000 to £34,000 whilst still in training.
Immediately they scale through and gain the status of a chartered forensic psychologist, their salary would significantly increase to somewhere between £26,000 and £38,000 for those in the prison service, and between £31,000 and £40,000 for those in the NHS.
Senior forensic psychologists could rake in as much as £95,000 and beyond on a yearly basis.
The career path of being a Forensic psychologist typically follows the traditional working schedule of five days a week, clocking in a 9 to 5. However, some extra evening and weekend work could be required of them from time to time.
Gaining entrance into this career path requires at least a psychology-related undergraduate degree that is accredited by the British Psychological Society (BPS).
On the flip side, you could complete an unrelated undergraduate degree, and thereafter go complete a one-year mandatory conversion course.
The status of a chartered forensic psychologist is one with so much benefits, but attaining the title entails that you would need to acquire a master’s and a BPS Qualification in forensic psychology.
Lastly, it is mandatory as a forensic psychologist to become a registered member of the Health and Care Professions Council.
Training & progression
In this line of work, the majority of the training required is completed whilst on the job and working towards chartered status.
Nevertheless, the British Psychological Society also grants its members access to some sets of extra training and networking opportunities. The International Academy for Investigative Psychology also offers other sets of relevant training courses.
Lots of forensic psychologists choose to work on a freelance basis immediately after they have acquired a decent amount of experience. However, some big organizations grant forensic psychologists the needed chance to further their careers into senior management positions with responsibilities of strategic and policy-making.
On the flip side, other forensic psychologists choose to specialize in one specific area, such as the treatment of drug addiction.