Forensic Psychology Job Opportunities
- Probation Officer
- Crime Analyst
- Victim Advocate
- Jury Expert
The most lucrative careers in forensic psychology include jobs that students can get with just a bachelor’s degree as well as for those with a graduate degree. Though many students assume they’ll work in prisons or other settings with criminals, they can also work in a variety of other positions. The top jobs provide workers with opportunities for future growth too.
Not everyone found guilty of a crime will spend time in jail. The judge may sentence a criminal to probation depending on factors including criminal history and the severity of the crime. During the probation period, the individual must follow set rules that may include attending a drug or alcohol treatment program. Probation officers are responsible for making sure that those individuals follow their probation terms. They can conduct home visits and visit the criminals at work, but probation officers often have them come into the office for visits too.
Students who prefer doing research rather than interacting with others may want to work as crime analysts. Crime analysts conduct surveys and other research work to track criminal activities. They study topics such as whether socioeconomic and other factors make someone more prone to a life of crime. They often work for nonprofit organizations but can also work for government agencies.
One of the more lucrative careers in forensic psychology that do not require working with criminals is that of a victim advocate. Victim advocates are responsible for speaking on behalf of the victims of crime. A professional might work with an individual after a traumatic event to make sure that they know their rights. Advocates can also work with the children and the elderly and anyone who does not feel comfortable speaking in court. They are responsible for explaining victims’ rights and for helping victims in and out of the court.
Another viable option for those with a degree in forensic psychology who want to make money is a jury expert. Also called a trial consultant, these professionals help lawyers pick the best people for a jury. During jury selection, the lawyers on both sides have the chance to ask prospective jury members questions. They can remove a set number of people from the jury pool to increase their chances for success during the trial. A trial consultant comes up with questions for those jurors and will watch their body language and reactions to decide who to keep and who to remove.
Working as a police officer often requires going through the police academy first. Those who complete a forensic psychology program can reduce the number of classes they need to take in that academy. They also have a strong background that can help them move up through the ranks and become a detective faster. Detectives investigate crimes and meet with both victims to get their stories and prospective criminals. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, police detectives make a median salary of $63,380 per year or more than $30 per hour.
Forensic psychology degree programs include courses that help students develop strong investigation and interviewing skills. They can use those skills to work as advocates who speak for those in need and as police detectives. Some of the other lucrative careers in forensic psychology include trial consultant, probation officer and crime analyst.