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Forensic psychologist

Alternative titles for this job include Criminal psychologist, investigative psychologist, legal psychologist

Forensic psychologists explore problems associated with criminal behaviour and the treatment of those who have committed offences.

Average salary (a year)

£27,000 Starter


£54,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 39 a week

You could work

between 8am and 6pm

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a forensic psychologist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role


You'll need to complete:

Some universities offer a doctorate programme in forensic psychology, which is the equivalent of both an accredited master's and the supervised practice.

Competition for postgraduate training is strong. You'll need a first or upper second class degree, and evidence of excellent research skills to apply. You'll also need relevant work experience, for example in a prison, probation or youth offending service.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths
  • 3 A levels or equivalent

More Information


You may be able to start your career in HM Prison Service as an interventions facilitator.

You could study for a psychology degree part-time, while you work. Once complete, you could apply for trainee forensic psychologist roles.

More Information


Professional and industry bodies

You can join the The British Psychological Society for professional recognition and training opportunities.

Further information

You'll find more about careers in forensic psychology from The British Psychological Society and Health Careers.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of psychology
  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • excellent written communication skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

You'll use your specialist knowledge of psychological theory and criminal behaviour to:

  • support police investigations through criminal profiling
  • support prison staff and other professionals in the welfare or criminal and civil justice systems
  • carry out research to improve and develop professional practice
  • work with offenders to help them understand and overcome their problems and behaviour patterns

Typically you could:

  • prepare risk assessments for offenders
  • advise on the best location for prisoners
  • develop treatment and rehabilitation programmes
  • provide psychological therapy
  • offer expert advice to parole boards, mental health tribunals and courts
  • produce formal written reports
  • help to write policies and strategies
  • train and mentor new psychologists
  • find ways to reduce stress and improve life inside prisons

Working environment

You could work in a prison, in an NHS or private hospital or at a police station.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding and you'll travel often.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

You could go on to run a prison psychology department, move into a policy and strategy-based role or a management post, focusing on specific issues.

You could also move into freelance and consultancy work, for example as an expert witness.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a forensic psychologist right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England


  • Start date: 01 September 2022
  • Location: Dartford


  • Provider: TURTON SCHOOL
  • Start date: 10 September 2022
  • Location: Bolton

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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