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Forensic psychologist

Forensic psychologists explore what makes people commit crimes.

Annual Salary

£30,401 to £43,772

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 a week

You could work: between 8am and 6pm;

Future employment

There will be 6% more Forensic psychologist jobs in 2026.
In your local area

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

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

  • 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 at a police station, in an NHS or private hospital or in a prison.

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

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 supervised practice.

If you have a degree in a different subject, you may be able to complete an approved psychology conversion course.

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 or with a mental health 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
For 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.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

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.

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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.

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

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
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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