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Forensic psychology is one of the specialties of psychology, which is used in the criminal justice system. West Chester University states that forensic psychology started at the beginning of the 1900s, which psychologists provided psychological insight into crimes and the law. This field of psychology incorporates aspects of the legal system and public policy, and requires practitioners to apply their knowledge of psychology to legal issues, which can help lawyers and law enforcement better understand the crime.
For example, a forensic psychologist may help lawyers when choosing a jury for a case. Forensic psychologists also deal with offenders who have psychological conditions, or analyze their method of thinking and how that influences their criminal behavior. As a result, students in forensic psychology master's programs take classes in both psychology and criminal justice.
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Career Options in Forensic Psychology
West Chester University notes that people with a master's degree in forensic psychology tend to work in correctional facilities under the supervision of an individual with a PhD. But the number of opportunities and salary potentials depend on a person's focus in forensic psychology. For example, people who have a developmental focus with forensic psychology can work on policy making, which may have higher pay options.
Students who focus on the social aspect of forensic psychology can apply their knowledge to jury selection. For example, they can analyze a person's behavior, and provide feedback to the lawyers about how that person would be as a juror. Another part of forensic psychology, criminal investigative psychology, deals with figuring out the mind of a perpetrator. Professionals with a master's in forensic psychology do not assess patients—West Chester University notes that PhDs in the field perform that job. Other areas where graduates with forensic psychology master's can work are in government, research and non-profit.
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Average Salary with a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology
The average salary with a master's degree in forensic psychology depends on the numbers of years a person has been working. All Psychology Schools notes that the median salary is $59,440 a year. When starting out with less than a year of experience, All Psychology Schools states that the average salary is $53,500 a year. However, when a person has been practicing for 20 or more years, the average salary is $80,000 a year, according to All Psychology Schools.
Part of the salary a person can earn depends on where they work. For example, the highest median salary, according to All Psychology Schools, is from the government, which is $63,968 a year. Government work includes working for local government or state government. The lowest median salary, according to All Psychology Schools, is from non-profit organizations, which is $47,000. Of course, the individual pay can vary depending on the size of the employer and the location.