Forensic psychology is the application of psychological paradigms to criminal behavior. Forensic psychologists work with law enforcement agencies and attorneys in trying to construct the mental condition and purpose, if any, of an alleged criminal offender.
Defense attorneys will also use forensic psychologists as expert witnesses in trying to prove that a client's mental capacity affected his decision making during a criminal incident.
Many forensic psychologists work with law enforcement agencies or law firms on a part time basis, acting as consultants in cases where the condition of the psyche plays a large role in both prosecution and defense of a case.
Practicing psychologists are required to hold doctorates in order to obtain a license. Forensic psychologists would face the same requirements, especially due to the fact that licensure is critical to credibility in a legal setting.
Forensic psychology has become an increasingly common component in criminal trials, as one side or the other tries to prove or disprove intent. This area of psychology practice as moved, to some extent, from the province of expert witness' to substantial assistance in criminal investigation.
The opportunities in forensic psychology will continue to expand, but it is unclear how many psychologists will be able to devote careers to it. Only the largest law enforcement organizations can afford to keep a psychologist on staff.
Lowest 10% $17,40 $36,200
Median Salary $38.26 $79,570
Highest 10% $61.84 $128,630