In our previous post, we discussed the recent increase in interest in forensic psychology. We made clear that to actually call yourself a “forensic psychologist” requires an advanced degree, such as a Ph.D. However, it is important for you to know that all is not lost if you do not want to get an advanced degree, but still want a career related to forensic psychology. There are a variety of career options for those who have only a Bachelor’s degree. Moreover, because it is very rare to be able to major in forensic psychology as an undergraduate, your degree can be in psychology, criminal justice, criminology, sociology, or political science to be employed in these careers.
Let’s get right into talking about some of the career options you have with only a Bachelor’s degree, keeping in mind that these options are quite varied. For example, some of these careers pertain more to the application of clinical skills (e.g., assessment, evaluation), while others involve applying research and experimentation to legal issues.
1) Court Liaison. These workers allow for the successful interaction of law enforcement agencies and the courts. They perform a range of administrative tasks: scheduling depositions, processing subpoenas, reviewing paperwork and court filings before a hearing or trial, sharing information between police and the courts. According to SimplyHired.com, the average salary of a court liaison is 54,000 dollars per year.
2) Crime Analyst. It is always important for the police to understand patterns of crime so they can best combat criminal activity. Crime analysts use data analytic skills to study criminal patterns. In this way, these analysts can help predict crime trends and provide the police with critical information about the who, what, when, where, how, and why of crime patterns in a community.
3) Forensic Case Manager. Individuals in the penal system as well as those who are former inmates need assistance to become productive members of society. Forensic case managers help individuals connect to support systems that will move them toward specific recovery goals. This includes helping those released from prison gain access to community resources and helping former inmates receive critical mental health services. Forensic case managers make an average salary of 61,000 dollars per year according to SimplyHired.com.
4) Psychological Assistant. Being a psychological assistant may involve clinical work or experimental research under the supervision of a Ph.D psychologist. For the former, a clinical psychological assistant can assist with the administration and scoring of psychological tests. You cannot directly diagnose or treat clients, but you can talk with your supervising psychologist to assist in determining a diagnosis. For the latter, an experimental psychological assistant participates in the design, execution and analysis of psychological experiments. SimplyHired.com lists the average salary of a psychological assistant at 52,000 dollars per year.
5) Victims Advocate. These individuals provide victims of crime with much needed emotional support and help dealing with various tasks. The latter can include finding information (e.g., legal rights), locating resources (e.g., shelter and transportation), filling out paperwork (e.g., victim compensation applications), helping to intervene with creditors and employers, and going to court with victims. In addition, some victim advocates work at crisis hotlines or centers and help run support groups. Indeed.com lists the average salary for a victims advocate at 54,000 dollars.
6) Investigative Researcher. These professionals are involved with providing attorneys with information (e.g., records, documents), interviewing witnesses, analysis of evidence and report writing. In addition, investigative researchers may be called upon to prepare, serve and file legal documents (e.g., contracts, legal briefs and wills), prepare evidence and exhibits for trial, and conduct library research on specific aspects of a case.
Keep in mind that there may be other types of jobs that allow you to apply psychology to the legal system, and that only require a Bachelor’s degree. The key is that you can be involved with forensic psychology without having an advanced degree. In a future blog post we will discuss career opportunities in forensic psychology with an advanced degree.
Please note that the comments of Dr. Golding and the others who post on this blog express their own opinion and not that of the University of Kentucky.
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