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Criminal Justice Careers with Psychology Degrees

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Criminal Justice Careers for Psychology Majors

Criminal justice careers with psychology degrees are becoming more and more popular by solving crimes and understanding the criminals behind them more every day. An important part of the criminal justice field is understanding why people commit criminal behavior, and the impact of crime on victims. If you have a psychology degree and are interested in the criminal justice field, you’re in luck!

The following list provides information on various types of criminal justice jobs you can pursue by choosing to major in psychology.

Forensic Psychiatrist or Psychologist

Pursuing a career within forensic psychology as either a forensic psychiatrist or a forensic psychologist can be highly rewarding as both professions allow you to provide psychotherapy and psychological support to both victims and incarcerated offenders within the judicial and criminal justice systems. Both careers require a doctorate and licensure in their respective fields following the completion of your academic and clinical training. However, there are some differences between pursuing a career as a forensic psychiatrist and a forensic psychologist.

A forensic psychiatrist is also able to provide medical treatment (i.e., prescribe medications and perform laboratory tests) because you are a trained medical doctor. In order to become a forensic psychiatrist you must complete your medical doctorate (MD) and then complete residences and fellowships specializing in mental health and forensic psychiatry pertaining to law and the criminal justice system.

As such, you would benefit from taking various psychology courses throughout your undergraduate and medical school programs. You should also keep in mind that you have to complete a considerable number of courses and training hours within the field of medical science to pursue this particular career. As a forensic psychiatrist, the long journey of medical school, residency, and fellowships result in a significantly higher rate of pay, as the current average salary for a psychiatrist in any field is more than $200,000 annually (O*Net, 2018).

Although a forensic psychologist is not a medical doctor and would not be able to prescribe medication or perform laboratory exams, they are trained to perform specific psychological tests that a forensic psychiatrist cannot. Furthermore, forensic psychologists need to complete a clinical internship and doctorate in psychology (PhD or PsyD) rand additionally receive a post-graduate psychology certificate in forensic psychology. The average salary for a clinical psychologist (comparable to a forensic psychologist) is $75,090 annually (O*Net, 2018), which is less than a forensic psychiatrist, but you’ll be able to enter the job market sooner.

Criminal Psychologist

Pursuing a degree within psychology allows you the opportunity to work towards a career as a criminal psychologist though completing a clinical internship and doctorate psychology (PhD or PsyD) and specializing your education and training within the area of criminal psychology. While forensic psychology typically address psychological needs after a crime and sentencing has been completed, a criminal psychologist helps address needs while a crime is being solved and addressed in court such as analyzing motives or creating a profile of the perpetrator. As such, criminal psychologists typically work with police officers and law enforcement officials to provide assistance in solving crimes or counseling law enforcement officers regarding traumatic incidents they may witness and experience from their jobs (i.e., shootings, murder, etc.).

The average salary for a criminal psychologist is comparable to a forensic psychologist and other types of psychologists. The average salary is that of a clinical psychologist, who typically make around $75,090 annually (O*Net, 2018).

Addiction Counselor

Another area of psychology that allows you to pursue a career within criminal justice is addictions counseling. Addiction counselors can work within the community providing counseling and rehabilitative support to individuals with substance abuse issues. However, the clients they work with may have a criminal record, be required to complete the counseling as part of their probation, or may be incarnated. As such, an addictions counselor can be a crucial piece to helping individuals complete their probationary duties, rehabilitate, and maintain sobriety which in return will likely help reduce any future dangerous or potentially criminal behaviors.

To become an addictions counselor, you must complete a master’s degree in psychology and likely specialize within substance abuse counseling. Therefore, often individuals majoring in psychology are able to pursue this career path. Following the completion of your master’s degree in psychology, you then must complete clinical supervision hours and requirements to become a licensed counselor and/or addictions counselor as each state varies on their licensure requirements for addictions counseling. However, most states require a form of specialized addictions counseling licensure in addition to a professional counseling license. As such, the average salary for an addictions counselor is comparable to a substance abuse counselor which is $46,740 annually (O*Net, 2018).

Behavioral Analyst

Behavior Analysts have a unique job within the criminal justice field: they help assess behaviors behind crimes to help determine the profile, motives, and evidence related to the perpetrator. An undergraduate degree in psychology would be highly beneficial, as these jobs typically require either a master’s degree or doctorate in applied behavior analysis with an emphasis in forensic behavior analysis. A bachelor’s in psychology is a common prerequisite for these programs. Licensure requirements as a behavior analyst in forensics varies state to state and you would typically work with law enforcement officials locally or federally to help solve crimes through criminal behavior analysis. The average salary of a behavior analyst is comparable to a criminal investigator, who make an average salary of $79,970 annually (O*Net, 2018)

Victims’ Advocate

A job as a victims’ advocate allows you to provide crisis management and emotional support to victims of traumatic and violent crimes. Employers typically prefer an yassociate degree in psychology, bachelor’s degree in psychology, or even a master’s degree in psychology at times.

You are able to provide direct care and support to individual’s impacted by violent crimes and/or domestic violence and often work within law enforcement agencies. As such, the typical salary for a victims’ advocate is comparable to a social and human service assistant, which is $33,120 on average, annually (O*Net, 2018).

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