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Career Options with a Masters in Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology merges the career fields of psychology and law. Forensic psychologists are primarily tasked with objectively testifying in court to assess the mental state of criminals and victims. They may work with criminal and juvenile offenders, trial lawyers, crime victims and law enforcement agencies.

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Forensic Psychologist Career Options

Although employers may prefer those with a doctorate in the field, there are several career options for those with a Master of Arts in Forensic Psychology. Below is a brief summary of five popular career options.

Expert Witness

Forensic psychologists are used by prosecuting or defense lawyers to testify at trial. They testify about the competency or sanity of a defendant, the emotional state of parents or children in custody cases, and the accuracy of eye-witness testimonies.

Jury Consultant

Lawyers may hire forensic psychologists to participate in a jury selection process. Some jury consultant duties include setting up mock juries, analyzing focus groups, researching case materials and completing other strategic psychological research.

Law Enforcement

Forensic psychologists with careers in law enforcement may be hired full-time by a police department or work as an independent consultant. Responsibilities may include suicide intervention, post-trauma counseling and stress management. Those with a master's degree in forensic psychology are also qualified to provide counseling referrals to officers and their families. Additionally, they may be involved with developing officer training programs or hiring processes.

Victim Advocacy

Forensic psychologists working as victim advocates provide crime survivors and their friends and family with support and legal advocacy. They provide recommendations for shelter and safety, crisis intervention, education options and preventative strategies. They may also provide ongoing support throughout court procedures.

Juvenile Offenders

Those with a master's degree in forensic psychology who wish to work with juvenile offenders may choose from several career paths. Counselors may work with juvenile residents of live-in crime rehabilitation programs by assessing, diagnosing and planning treatments. They may also provide counseling to juvenile offenders and their families directly in their home or in a local community setting. Services include victim counseling, substance abuse treatment, life skills training, conflict resolution and anger management counseling.

Salary Information

Payscale.com estimates that the annual salary for new forensic psychologists ranges from $20,112-$45,898. For those with 5-20 years experience, annual salaries can range from $47,914-$111,564. In May 2008, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the average yearly salary for all non-clinical, non-industrial psychologists was $90,460.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics