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Forensic Psychologist

The role

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.


The hours

Forensic psychologists usually work standard office hours – 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.


Useful websites (The British Psychological Society)  (Health Professions Council)


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