Criminal Psychologist Career Facts

A career is criminal psychology is a good idea for those interested in both psychology and the criminal justice system. Criminal psychology professionals are also known as forensic psychologists. Criminal psychology jobs are an integral part of the criminal justice system. Criminal psychologists work with attorneys to ensure that justice is carried out according to the individual psychological elements of the people involved in a case.


The law requires that people involved in legal cases be proved mentally competent to stand trial, give testimony and the like. Criminal psychologists work within the boundaries of the law, using psychological methods, to assess and form conclusions about the mental competency and psychological profile of an individual as it related to the court case at hand.

Education and Options

Differing options are available in criminal psychology, depending upon the level of education attained. With a bachelor's degree in forensic psychology, career options may be more limited. A bachelor's degree in criminal psychology allows the graduate to obtain jobs in community centers and mental health facilities under the supervision of licensed psychology practitioners. A master's degree does not allow licensing, but does allow a little more pay and the ability to work in a clinical environment under the supervision of a licensed psychology professional. A Ph.D. in criminal psychology allows graduates to work in full capacity. A Ph.D., for instance, allows the criminal psychologist to perform a clinical assessment of a person involved in a legal matter, while a master's degree would allow the graduate to perform tasks related to that work, such as background research.


Criminal psychologists are required to work within the boundaries of the law, using standardized psychological tools developed using research. Criminal psychologists are meant to ensure that justice is truly being carried out. Criminal psychologists might analyze a child's capability for giving important testimony based upon memories, for instance. Criminal psychologists might ensure that someone who is mentally ill and incapable of making rational decisions is not unfairly punished for a crime, given the incapacitating psychological condition that spurred in the incident. People sometimes hallucinate due to schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. People might imagine voices that are commanding the death of other people, for instance. Criminal psychologists make the determination if a person suffering from such severe mental illness should be incarcerated or placed in an in-patient mental hospital.

Basic Tasks

A typical day of a criminal psychologist may include interviews, filing reports, giving testimony in court cases and doing legal research. Criminal psychology professionals may also be well-published in their fields and hold teaching jobs in addition to legal advising positions.


Different salary options are available depending upon the level of education that has been attained. A bachelor's degree in criminal psychology affords graduates the opportunity to earn between $19,000 and $20,000 per year. A master's degree allows criminal psychology professionals to earn anywhere between $20,000 and $25,000, in general. The highest salary options are available for licensed criminal psychologists who hold a Ph.D. in the field. Criminal psychologists with a Ph.D. may earn between $50,000 and $60,000 annually, in general.>