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How to Become a Criminal Psychologist

Mukta Gaikwad
The job description of a criminal psychologist fascinates many. So, if you have been looking for answers on how to become a criminal psychologist, you must know that it takes a lot of research, a degree, and a license to be one.
Criminal psychologists are forensic psychologists, who work closely with the police and criminals. The job description fascinates many, but only few draw an inspiration from them. Formal education and interning as a criminal psychologist are the two basic criterion for becoming a criminal psychologist.
However, these take years of perseverance and dedication towards a predetermined ambition. As interesting as a career of a criminal psychologist may sound, it also demands a great deal of effort to be a professional at it. The job of a criminal psychologist comes with huge responsibilities.

Criminal Psychologist Requirements


Accomplishing your ambitious goals is a result of your dedicated academic and extra curricular efforts. Thus, before you embark on a journey to reach your goal, you need to research about good colleges, schools and institutes that will support your ambitions.
Make a list of all the good institutes that teach courses in criminal psychology and go through their prospectuses. Take a look at their teaching faculty and the services they provide to help their students get the best understanding of the subject. Getting your homework done, is extremely important before you enroll yourself for a full-fledged program.


Formal education is the major component of becoming a criminal psychologist. Aspiring students must pursue their undergraduate degree in criminal psychology, which includes subjects such as criminology, juvenile delinquency, criminal investigation, social psychology and behavioral psychology.
Traditional education allows you an unforeseen insight in to the world of criminal psychologist. It brings forth the career challenges, interesting cases, nature of work and the skills that an aspiring candidate requires. A degree, however, will give you only the theoretical knowledge about the field.
Getting a hands-on experience, such as interning while you are studying will help you understand the subject in greater depth.


Regular education gives you a basic idea of what a criminal psychologist's profession is like. However, an internship will give you the real idea of what this profession is like. Interning allows you to see potential growth for this job, so that you can steer your academics in the right direction. It opens up a plethora of learning opportunities for you.
Enroll yourself with American Psychological Association, which aims 'to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.' This way you will come across a lot of psychologists and the experience will directly or indirectly shape you into a criminal psychologist.


Just as you need a license to drive, you need a license to practice as a criminal psychologist too. After you graduate, you will have to take an examination for acquiring the license to legally practice criminal psychology. Once you get a license, you may also have to do some field work or work as an assistant, before you start practicing on your own.


Start making applications or consult the placement cell in your college for helping you out with a job. In most cases, places where you have interned absorb candidates, as they are trained and qualified for the job. Thus, you can also go back and inquire if there are any openings.
Initially, criminal psychologist's salary will be less. However, with experience, it will only go on increasing.
A criminal psychologist must have excellent observation skills, must be able to see beyond the obvious and should have integrity and honesty as cornerstone of his work ethic, as he plays a crucial part in bringing out the truth as it is.