If you're interested in pursuing a degree in criminal psychology, you'll be glad to know that you can now earn these degrees online. Criminal psychology is a study of the patterns of thinking, desire, reactions and intentions of criminals. It seeks to understand what a criminal thinks of to be able to execute a crime, how the criminal reacted after the crime was committed, and what his thoughts are during the trial. Most of the time, criminal psychologists work with the offender and seek to find the appropriate treatment in order that they may change their lives and avoid a repeat criminal offense.
Those who work as criminal psychologists are expected to be good with people and have excellent communication skills. They have high powers of observation and can readily apply the theories and research related to criminal behavior to be able to draft appropriate assessment and treatment methods for the offender. Good interviewing skills work to strengthen a criminal psychologist's ability to ascertain the psychological factors that cause repeat offending.
A criminal psychologist is usually required to have a postgraduate diploma in clinical psychology. In the United States a master's or doctor's degree is a requirement along with a state certification exam. After this, he has to be supervised for at least a year by a skilled criminal psychologist before he can start his own practice. A new graduate should expect a base salary rate of $39,000 to $42,000 a year. If joining the FBI is in the plan, getting additional years for a doctorate would be a wise investment since the salary could rise to $74,000 a year. If you are interested in a career in criminal psychology, you could ask your local police force about the salary rates for criminal psychology to get a clearer picture.
A lot of criminal psychologists are devoted to their job because they are interested in catching criminals, especially those whose criminal careers they have followed through the years. Clinical work as a criminal psychologist means using social psychology and developmental psychology on criminals or offenders in order to understand the reasons behind the offense.
A criminal psychologist may be a forensic psychologist. Forensic psychologists are usually expected to stand as witness and give their expert testimony on issues regarding criminal cases. This is one of their major tasks. However, this means gathering additional knowledge on the part of the forensic psychologist on legal matters and a firm grasp of the law. This also means that whatever tests or exams they perform on offenders should be within the law. Any police report or psychological evaluation and medical records that they will be using in testifying regarding the psychology of the offender should also be checked if it is within legal boundaries. This is needed so that their testimonies will be considered relevant by the court and will be used in the case.
Criminal psychologists may have other jobs aside from being forensic psychologists. They may take a job as a Corrections Officer or Probation Officer, responsible for the safety, rehabilitation and secure conditions of prisoners. Additionally, probation officers prepare reports about the offender for criminal cases in court. They may also work as Educational Psychologists working with students, educators and parents, hand-in-hand with mental health services to support students having difficulties that affect their learning. In any case, online continuing education programs in psychology can help any criminal psychologist keep his skills sharp.