How To Become A Cop

Criminal Psychology Degree 2012

Most street cops find it useful on a frequent basis to have some psychology coursework under their belts.  If you haven't already received your degree, you need to start by getting a college degree in criminal justice. Every day cops have to deal with stressed citizens in the midst of a domestic dispute, with the mentally unbalanced who represent a major part of the homeless population, or with criminals exhibiting bizarre behavior who need to be taken off the streets.  Few cops, however, actually go through a rigorous 5 to 7 year PhD or PsyD program in order to obtain a 2012 criminal psychology degree.

That is exactly what is required of almost anyone expecting to make a career of forensic psychology, or as a profiler, as this job is sometimes called.  The profiler is a highly specialized member of a criminal investigation, or crime lab team, being trained to delve deeply into the criminal mind.  This person is able to solve many cases by drawing conclusions based on the proclivities and personality of someone who has committed a major crime.  Many PhD/PsyD level criminal or forensic psychologists will be employed by federal agencies, state crime labs, major police departments, and correctional facilities.

Someone with a criminal psychology degree will spend time testifying in court on the “state of mind of the accused” at the time of the crime, and whether, in the psychologist’s opinion, the defendant was capable of understanding whether actions were right or wrong at the time the crime was committed.

Correctional institutions employ criminal psychologists to evaluate and sometimes treat inmates.  In some states this type of activity is done upon intake at a regional or state-wide classification and treatment center.  This evaluation assures that inmates are placed among the right population in order to minimize violent incidents and maximize a new prisoner’s ability to adjust to the prison environment.  Criminal psychologists may also be employed by correctional and probationary departments in order to counsel and follow the mental health issues of inmates and parolees.  They also determine the fitness of a potential parolee for release.

Some criminal psychologists will run private forensic laboratories.  They will do expert witness consulting, and will also counsel the mentally ill who have a history of criminal behavior. 

No one goes after a criminal psychology degree because of the pay.  The average pay for a criminal psychologist as of 2006 was only around $57,000.  The range was between $30,000 and $100,000.

On the other hand, individuals who love the challenge of investigative work will find the job of the criminal psychologist fascinating and rewarding.  It can be very rewarding to successfully take a dangerous psychopath off the streets, or in evaluating a potential parolee to be successful on probation.  This job can play a significant role in the welfare and safety of communities.  This is especially true in the lives of individuals who are trying to move on after either being a victim, or after serving time in prison.  These intrinsic reasons are the real reasons for getting your PsyD.


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