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Forensic psychologist

Forensic psychologists study criminal behaviour and help people who have committed crimes.

Annual Salary

£27,000 to £54,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 a week

You could work: between 8am and 6pm;

Future employment

There will be 3.8% more Forensic psychologist jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

On a typical day, you could:

  • help police identify possible suspects which is known as criminal profiling
  • advise on how to reduce stress and improve life inside prisons
  • provide psychological therapy to help people understand and overcome their problems
  • carry out research, prepare risk assessments and reports and help to write policies
  • offer advice to parole boards, mental health tribunals and courts
  • train new psychologists

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.

You can get into this job through a university course or by working towards this role.


To become a forensic psychologist, you can either follow the accredited degree process or complete a doctorate programme.

Accredited degree process

To become a forensic psychologist, you'll need to:

Doctorate programme

Alternatively, some universities offer a doctorate programme in forensic psychology. This is the equivalent of the accredited masters degree and 2 years of supervised practice.

There's a lot of competition for postgraduate training. To apply, you might need:a first or upper second class (2:1) degree; evidence of excellent research skills; 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
For more information

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

You could study for a psychology degree part-time while you work. You could then apply for a trainee forensic psychologist role.

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 can find out more about how to become a forensic psychologist from The British Psychological Society and Health Careers.

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With experience, you could:run the psychology department in a prison; move into a policy, strategy or management role; move into freelance and consultant 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
  • concentration skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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