February 9, 2015
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
It used to be a little known speciality earlier but thanks to a number of hugely popular television shows that have been airing over the past few years, many more people are today aware of the exciting field of Forensic psychology.
Forensic psychologists are highly specialised professionals who deal with issues that combine psychology and law. They apply their expert knowledge in psychology to situations that deal with various criminal investigations.
Before you decide to commit yourself to forensic psychology, it is important to know what to expect in this job.
As a professional in this specialty, you may work with the criminal system or with civil suits, where you will use your expertise to resolve a wide variety of challenging issues, ranging from insurance claims and custody suits to assessing various offenders of different ages. Some forensic psychologists also work in family courts and help with investigations that deal with children, visitation risk assessments and offering various kinds of therapy services.
Forensic psychology involves working with different kinds of people, ranging from criminal offenders to corporate clients. It is necessary for you to be comfortable working with others and also be able to work alone when necessary.
Most importantly, you need to be mentally and emotionally strong and capable of standing up for what you believe in, especially when you are being cross examined on the witness stand. During the course of your work, you will come across a number of challenging problems that will not have easy solutions and where your decision could decide the fate of another person. You have to have the courage of conviction to face up to these challenges and make these critical decisions. It may look easy and even glamorous on TV but in reality, this specialty is not for the faint hearted.
As a forensic psychologist, not only will you have to have a lot of knowledge about psychology but you will also have to get very familiar with the law and manage to integrate both psychology and law into your work. If you love both law and psychology, this is a specialty that you should consider as it allows you to indulge in both.
To practice as a forensic psychologist you will first have to successfully complete a doctoral degree in psychology. Most forensic psychologists usually have this degree either in counselling psychology or clinical psychology. Obtaining the degree would take between 5 to 7 years of graduate study after school. Some schools offer specific forensic psychology courses. These courses will often have various psychology subjects and also integrate some law courses into the curriculum. Since most of these courses are very sought after, the competition for admission is high.
As a forensic psychologist, you can choose to work in the public sector alongside law enforcement and other public agencies or you could also work in the private sector. In Australia forensic psychologists earn an average salary of about AUD 76,000 a year.