Forensic psychologist

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

Forensic psychologists explore what makes people commit crimes.

Average salary (a year)

£20,000 Starter


£70,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 39 a week

You could work

between 8am and 6pm

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:

You may be able to study for an approved postgraduate conversion course, if you're a graduate in a subject other than psychology or your psychology degree is not accredited by the BPS.

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

Competition for postgraduate training is strong. You'll need an upper second class degree or higher, and evidence of excellent research skills to apply. You'll also need relevant work experience, for example in a prison or with a mental health service.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), 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 details about careers in forensic psychology from The British Psychological Society and Health Careers.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
  • knowledge of psychology
  • the ability to understand people‚Äôs reactions
  • knowledge of English language
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • active listening skills
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

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
  • rehabilitate and treat offenders or patients in prisons, high security hospitals and specialist mental health residential units
  • support prison staff and other professionals within the welfare or criminal and civil justice systems
  • carry out research to improve and develop professional practice

You'll work with offenders to help them understand and overcome their problems and behaviour patterns. In this role you could be:

  • preparing specialist risk assessments for offenders
  • advising on the best location for prisoners
  • developing treatment and rehabilitation programmes
  • providing psychological therapy
  • offering expert advice to parole boards, mental health review tribunals or court cases
  • producing formal written reports
  • helping to write policies and strategies
  • training and mentoring new and trainee psychologists
  • finding ways to reduce stress and improve life inside prisons

Working environment

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

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

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

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

Pre-Access: Full Science

  • Start date: 22 September 2020
  • Location: LIVERPOOL

Pre-Access to Science & Nursing - Part-Time

  • Start date: 07 September 2020
  • Location: King's Lynn

JobsIn the United Kingdom

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