In order to become a successful forensic psychologist, individuals need a combination of important skill sets and proper training. Schools that offer graduate programs in forensic psychology are highly selective, so starting early and maintaining a strong academic path can assist individuals in becoming successful.
Starting Early for Forensic Psychologist
Men and women who plan to head down this career path can start gathering experience and knowledge early on. Numerous psychology classes will need to be taken in order to be successful in this field, and many high schools offer introductions to psychology. High school level science classes can be important as a foundation for the many science courses that will be needed at the college level. Sociology is another great high school class individuals should take, as their career will lead them to study specific backgrounds and life influences of certain individuals. Finally, math classes are essential as many forensic psychologists work with numbers in the form of statistics and analytics.
Required Skill Sets
It’s never too early to start honing important skill sets that will serve you throughout your forensic psychologist career. The organization is essential, as these professionals live very research and academic-based lifestyle. Attention to detail is also extremely important, as professional forensic psychologists often analyze groups of individuals and their backgrounds, cultures, races, and upbringings to determine potential behavior patterns. Learning the nuances of body language can assist greatly because most forensic psychologists will do assessments on individuals to determine their competency.
Choosing a college that provides hands-on experience in the form of research or internships is a great way to build a resume and experience. The more experience an individual has in the field, the more attractive their resume is to a potential employer. Evaluate the different programs in forensic psychology available and narrow down your choices by determining which ones provide the best hands-on experience that will serve you throughout your career.
Plan for Schooling
Because most forensic psychologist careers demand at least a master’s degree but prefer a doctorate degree, individuals who plan to take this career path should plan for many years of schooling. After the 2 years required to earn a bachelor’s degree, individuals will then be required to take an additional 4 to 6 years of school before they’re prepared to enter the workforce. For this reason, this type of forensic psychologist career is only for the truly dedicated.
Become a Certified Forensic Psychologist
Finally, while it may not be required, individuals will benefit from becoming certified through a reputable and professional organization such as the American Board of Professional Psychology. In order to become certified a forensic psychologist, individuals need a doctorate degree from a school that is accredited by the American Psychological Association. They will also need to have completed an APA-approved internship. Finally, 100 hours of formal education is required to take the test for certification, as is 1,000 hours of experience in the field. This can be in the form of a postdoctoral training program.
By ensuring that each of these steps has been completed, individuals will increase their chances of becoming highly successful in the field of forensic psychology.