Forensic psychology is constant excitement — nearly becoming the next victim as you race to catch a serial killer. Right?


So, to decide whether being a forensic psychologist is right for you, you need to know what it's like in the real world!

Two people putting together a jigsaw of a head. Image by at Freepik

What Does a Forensic Psychologist Do?

Real-life forensic psychologists don't go toe-to-toe with the likes of Hannibal Lecter in their daily routine.

Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins in Silence of The Lambs.

However, they can work in all areas of the criminal justice system, from investigation, to legal processes, and treating offenders in prisons or other secure facilities.

The main role of a forensic psychologist, though, is to use psychological and behavioral theories to treat those who've offended and reduce the possibility that they'll offend again.

Tasks Include

  • Observing, interviewing, and assessing 🤔

  • Writing reports and criminal profiles ✍️

  • Conducting research and writing professional articles 📋

  • Providing expert testimony in criminal trials and parole hearings 👩🏽‍⚖️

  • Providing counseling and treatment to offenders 🗣️

  • Supervising forensic psychology interns 🤝

A Day in the Life of a Forensic Psychologist

Your day will look very different depending on your role, specific cases, agency schedules, and unforeseen circumstances. Here are just some examples:


Correctional Psychologist

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  • Morning: Review files of incoming inmates, conduct initial mental health assessments, and participate in treatment planning meetings.

  • Afternoon: Conduct individual or group therapy sessions focusing on anger management or cognitive-behavioral approaches.

  • Evening: Documenting notes, preparing reports for parole boards, and collaborating with correctional officers on behavior management strategies.


Forensic Neuropsychologist

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  • Morning: Meet with a client referred by the court for competency evaluation, and conduct neuropsychological testing assessing cognitive functioning.

  • Afternoon: Analyze test results, write detailed reports outlining cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and prepare for testimony in court.

  • Evening: Attend continuing education seminars on brain injuries and legal issues, and research new assessment tools and interventions.


Police Psychologist

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  • Morning: Provide crisis intervention training to police officers, and develop stress management techniques for high-pressure situations.

  • Afternoon: Consult with detectives on challenging cases, analyze suspect profiles, and offer psychological insights on crime scene behavior.

  • Evening: Conduct psychological evaluations of police recruits, and collaborate with internal affairs on officer misconduct investigations.

Knowledge Check

Sarah enjoys analyzing complex personalities and delving into the "why" behind behaviors.

She also finds legal proceedings and courtroom drama fascinating. However, she dislikes dealing with emotionally challenging situations and prefers working behind the scenes.

Considering these traits, Sarah would likely be a good fit for:

A. A correctional psychologist working directly with inmates.

B. A forensic neuropsychologist conducting court-ordered evaluations.

C. A police psychologist offering crisis intervention training.

D. A research psychologist studying criminal behavior patterns.


What role would be best for Sarah?

Average Salary

USA flag US $78,990 per year

Canada flag CA $97,851 per year

UK flag £38,148 to £43,870 per year

Australia flag AU $71,586 per year

Is Forensic Psychology Right for Me?

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You'll love it if...

  • You enjoy intellectual challenges —solving complex puzzles, understanding human behavior, and applying psychological knowledge to real-world problems.

  • You want to make a difference — helping individuals navigate the legal system, contributing to rehabilitation, and promoting public safety.

  • You're flexible — diverse settings, working with different populations, continuous learning, and specialization opportunities.

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It may not be for you if...

  • You get overwhelmed in emotionally demanding situations — working with trauma, violence, and challenging characters can be emotionally taxing.

  • You hate bureaucracy and legal constraints — working within the legal system can be complex and involve limitations.

  • You can't handle an unpredictable schedule and potential for long hours — adapting to court schedules, emergencies, and deadlines can be demanding.

Take Action

If you're interested in exploring or pursuing a career in forensic psychology:

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