Do Forensic Psychologists Need to be Certified?

forensic psychologist certification

The career of the forensic psychologist is full of challenges and can be incredibly interesting and satisfying. This type of psychologist isn’t doing talk therapy with clients. The client is law enforcement. The forensic psychologist will help law enforcement deal with criminals and their highly destructive behavior.

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Insights into the Mind of a Criminal

If a particular crime is rather complicated, the police might ask a forensic psychologist to help. The forensic psychologist will help law enforcement find motives for a certain crime. They will look over the crime scene as well as search for any clues. After looking at the crime scene or the victims, the psychologist will give their opinion about the criminal who is responsible for the crime. The psychologist might even work with the investigators to locate the perpetrator.

Working with the Courts

In the court system, defendants can be assessed to learn whether they are competent to stand trial. This the job of a psychologist. They will interview the accused and determine if he or she can answer for their crimes. The psychologist sends recommendations to the judge as well as the lawyers in the case. The psychologist might serve either party when evaluating witnesses too. Their recommendations are almost always heeded in court cases.

Criminals in Prison

Those who have been sent to prison need psychiatric evaluations at times. The forensic psychologist will interview those who are up for parole and will submit their conclusion to the parole board. The recommendation will have a weight that could deny parole for prisoners. It’s a very regarded opinion from a professional on whether the criminal has been reformed.

Type and Length of Schooling Needed

A forensic psychologist will need to have several years of schooling before starting their careers. The student will take years of psychology as a major studying subject like sociology of crime, deviant behavior, and criminal psychology for example.

The name of the classes might differ, but they are the same in many degree programs. For a successful career in forensic psychology, the student will have to obtain a bachelor’s degree at the very least. They can work while continuing their education to pursue a higher degree.


It takes more than a degree in forensic psychology to have a fulfilling career. After graduating with a master’s degree, the student might seek a doctorate. Some students even go as far as obtaining a law degree, which is a Juris Doctor. At the very least, students will need to get a state license to work with the courts. They can become board certified by the American Board of Forensic Psychology after a working a minimum of 1,000 hours in the field. The ABFP oversees the diplomas offered in Forensic Psychology. Candidates must have a license, a doctoral degree and have 1,000 hours of experience.


Although it is preferred, certification is not imperative for a successful career in forensic psychology.The psychology professional can start a career while pursuing further education with the intent to become board certified.

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