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Forensic psychologists use their specialist knowledge of psychological theory and criminal behaviour to perform a variety of tasks. They include investigating crimes alongside the police and rehabilitating offenders or patients in prisons, high security hospitals and specialist mental health residential units.
How to become a forensic psychologist
After gaining at least five GCSEs (A-C), plus three A levels, the following is needed in order to become a qualified forensic psychologist:
- a British Psychological Society (BPS) Accredited Degree in Psychology, leading to Graduate Basis for Chartered Membership (GBC).
- a Health Professions Council (HPC) approved programme of training, leading to registration as a forensic psychologist
As well as a good degree (at least a 2.1), also required is evidence of strong research skills, plus relevant work experience, for example, in a prison or within mental health services.
Skills and Knowledge required
To survive and thrive in this challenging and competitive field, it’s important to possess:
- a genuine desire to help offenders lead law-abiding and fulfilling lives
- resilience, with the ability to deal with the risk of physical or verbal assault
- patience, empathy, honesty and integrity
- excellent communication and listening skills
- a good knowledge of criminal law
Trainee or newly qualified psychologists earn around £20,000 a year. Qualified psychologists may earn around £30,000 to £45,000 annually, while consultants and heads of large departments may earn up to £95,000 a year.
Forensic psychologists usually work standard office hours – 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
www.bps.org.uk (The British Psychological Society)
www.hpc-uk.org (Health Professions Council)